BOSTON — A funeral home director was scrambling to find a cemetery that would bury a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, ignoring protesters gathered outside his business and saying everybody deserves a dignified burial service no matter the circumstances of his or her death.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died from “gunshot wounds of torso and extremities” and blunt trauma to his head and torso, said Worcester funeral home owner Peter Stefan, who has Tsarnaev’s body and on Friday read details from his death certificate. The certificate lists the time of his death as 1:35 a.m. on April 19, four days after the deadly bombing, Stefan said.
Tsarnaev died after a gunfight with authorities who had launched a massive manhunt for him and his brother, ethnic Chechens from Russia who came to the United States about a decade ago. Police have said he ran out of ammunition before his younger brother dragged his body under a vehicle while fleeing.
Tsarnaev’s family was making arrangements Friday for his funeral as investigators searched the woods near a college attended by 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was captured less than a day after his brother’s death.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s body was released by the state medical examiner Thursday. It initially was taken to a North Attleborough funeral home, where it was greeted by about 20 protesters, before being taken to Stefan’s Graham Putnam and Mahoney Funeral Parlors, which is familiar with Muslim services.
“My problem here is trying to find a gravesite. A lot of people don’t want to do it. They don’t want to be involved with this,” said Stefan, who said dozens of protesters gathered outside his funeral home, upset with his decision to handle the service. “I keep bringing up the point of Lee Harvey Oswald, Timothy McVeigh or Ted Bundy. Somebody had to do those, too.”
Meanwhile, two U.S. officials said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told interrogators that he and his brother initially considered setting off their bombs on July Fourth.
Boston police said they planned to review security procedures for the Independence Day Boston Pops concert and fireworks display, which draws a crowd of more than 500,000 annually and is broadcast to a national TV audience. Authorities plan to look at security procedures for large events held in other cities, notably the massive New Year’s Eve celebration held each year in New York City’s Times Square, Massachusetts state police spokesman David Procopio said.
Gov. Deval Patrick said everything possible will be done to assure a safe event.
As part of the bombing investigation, federal, state and local authorities were searching the woods near the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth campus, where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was a student. Christina DiIorio-Sterling, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, could not say what investigators were looking for but said residents should know there is no threat to public safety.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was found hiding in a tarp-covered boat in a backyard in Watertown, a Boston suburb, faces a charge of using a weapon of mass destruction to kill. Three of his college classmates were arrested Wednesday and accused of helping after the bombing to remove a laptop and backpack from his dormitory room before the FBI searched it.
The April 15 bombing, which used pressure cookers packed with explosives, nails, ball bearings and metal shards, killed three people and injured more than 260 others near the marathon’s finish line.
The brothers decided to carry out the attack before Independence Day when they finished assembling the bombs, the surviving suspect told interrogators after he was arrested, according to two U.S. officials briefed on the investigation. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation.
Investigators believe some of the explosives used in the attack were assembled in Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s home, though there may have been some assembly elsewhere, one of the officials said. It does not appear that the brothers ever had big, definitive plans, the official said.
The brothers’ mother insists the allegations against them are lies.
Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security ordered border agents to immediately begin verifying that every international student who arrives in the U.S. has a valid student visa, according to an internal memorandum obtained Friday by The Associated Press. The new procedure is the government’s first security change directly related to the Boston bombings.
The order from a senior official at U.S. Customs and Border Protection, David J. Murphy, was circulated Thursday and came one day after President Barack Obama’s administration acknowledged that one of the students accused of hiding evidence, Azamat Tazhayakov, of Kazakhstan, was allowed to return to the U.S. in January without a valid student visa.
Tazhayakov’s lawyer has said he had nothing to do with the bombing and was shocked by it.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESSs Bridget Murphy and Mark Pratt in Boston and Pete Yost, Eileen Sullivan and Alicia A. Caldwell in Washington contributed to this report.