By ETHAN ROSENBERG, ANGELA WONG, LUCAS HIGH and SEAN HENDERSON
Capital News Service
GAITHERSBURG – A Maryland uncle of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings asked his nephew, Dzhokar Tsarnaev, still at large Friday afternoon, to turn himself in to authorities and urged him to ask for forgiveness for his actions.
The two bombing suspects, Dzhokar, 19, and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, have ties to Maryland, with a handful of relatives living and studying in the Greater Washington area.
“If you are alive, turn yourself in and ask for forgiveness from the victims, from the injured and from those who lived. Ask forgiveness from these people,” said Ruslan Tsarni, who lives in a neighborhood north of Gaithersburg where he held a news conference Friday.
Tsarni confirmed their identity and said they moved to the U.S. about 10 years ago. He said his nephews had shamed the family name and Chechnya, where the family has roots.
“We’re Muslims, we’re ethnic Chechens,” Ruslan Tsarni said.
“Somebody radicalized them, but it’s not my brother, who just moved back to Russia, who spent his life bringing bread to their table, fixing cars,” he said. “I’ve not been in touch with my brother.”
Ruslan Tsarni said he has not seen his nephews since December 2005. But he said he had never heard the two associated with any violence.
“I teach my children, and that is what I feel myself…I respect this country and I love this country. This country which gives a chance to everybody else to be treated as a human being and to be a human being…that’s what I feel about this country,” he said.
“Of course we’re ashamed. They’re children of my brother, who had little influence on them, as much as I know,” he said.
Tsarni said that any allegation that the attacks were bred out of Muslim hatred for the U.S. is “a fraud.”
He said the only motivation behind the attacks he could imagine was that his nephews were “losers, not being able to settle themselves, thereby hating anyone who did.”
He found out when reporters called him this morning and his wife showed him photos of the nephews online.
He said the nephews never lived in the Gaithersburg house.
Ruslan Tsarni later apologized to neighbors for the disruption to the neighborhood.
A second uncle, Alvi Tsarnaev, who talked to CBS News, also lives near Gaithersburg. He was not available for comment, but the man who lives at the house listed in state property records under his name, returned home Friday in the company of police, and left shortly thereafter.
In Boston Friday, the city and surrounding communities were on lockdown after a night that left a police officer and one of the suspects dead.
The second suspect was still on the loose and presumed armed and dangerous.
After releasing photographs and video on Thursday of two persons of interest in the bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, the two suspects – the brothers Tsarnaev – are believed to have robbed a convenience store, killed a Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus police officer, stolen an SUV and taken a hostage before leading police on a wild chase through the streets of Cambridge.
At approximately 10:20 p.m. Thursday night, the two brothers reportedly robbed a 7-Eleven convenience store, located near the MIT campus in Cambridge, according to Associated Press reports.
About 10 minutes later, an MIT campus police officer – identified as 26-year-old Sean Collier – was found in his vehicle with multiple gunshot wounds. He was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital where he was pronounced dead, according to the Associated Press.
Moments after the slain officer was discovered, police received reports of an armed carjacking by two males in the Cambridge area.
The victim of the carjacking was held hostage by the suspects for approximately a half hour before being released at a gas station in Cambridge.
Police followed the stolen SUV into the town of Watertown — just west of Cambridge — where authorities said the suspects threw explosives from the vehicle and exchanged gunfire with police.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was critically injured and later pronounced dead.
A transit police officer was seriously injured during the incident.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev managed to elude police, and a massive manhunt continued through the night and into Friday morning.
Officials have asked residents of Boston and surrounding areas to remain indoors away from windows with their doors locked as the search continues.
Capital News Service reporters Allen Etzler, Kayla Faria, Julia Maldonado, Spencer Israel, Amber Larkins, Eric Morrow, Krystal Nancoo-Russell, Jonathan Elbaz, Anamika Roy and Lauren Kirkwood contributed to this report.