FBI agents investigating the Boston Marathon bombings have questioned a female friend of suspected terrorist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev at her family's Ridge home, according to the woman and a federal law enforcement source.
Britney Smith, 23, who said she has known the Tsarnaev family since 2004, said federal agents questioned her at length Friday about her relationship with Tsarnaev.
Smith said she was "close friends" with Tsarnaev.
On Tuesday, Smith said she met Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's sisters, Ailina and Bella, in Manhattan in 2004 through mutual friends. She soon became friends with the rest of the family, including Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, while some members lived in the Bronx and others in New Jersey, Smith said.
Because she was a family friend and close to the suspected bomber, the FBI "knew we knew each other and they thought he might be coming here," said Smith, who attended William Floyd High School in Mastic and now lives in Miami.
The law enforcement source confirmed federal agents talked to Smith in Ridge Friday and were investigating whether Tsarnaev, 19, had boarded a ferry to Orient Point Friday after he and his brother, 26, allegedly shot and killed a police officer in Cambridge, Mass.
Smith said she had been in Ridge to attend a relative's funeral and spend time with family when a large contingent of FBI agents showed up at the family home and told her they needed to speak with her.
They first asked her about an incident several years ago in which Ailina Tsarnaeva displayed Smith's identification when police stopped her for driving without a seat belt, Smith and the source said.
Ailina Tsarnaeva, who lives in West New York, N.J., and remains close with Smith, was simultaneously interviewed by agents in her home Friday, the source said.
Agents also asked Smith to explain her connection to the Tsarnaev family, at which point she told them about spending time with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his siblings over the years.
They asked her to show them all her Facebook messages to and from the 19-year-old suspected bomber and describe their other communications, which she said she did.
She also told agents about a trip he made to Manhattan last year. "He told me he went to hang out in Times Square, went to a hookah lounge and was having a lot of fun," Smith said. "He said, 'I love it out here.' "
She said she never saw any indications that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev subscribed to jihadist ideology or had been influenced by radical Islamist thought.
"You wouldn't have even known he was Muslim," Smith said. "He was a typical teenager, going to parties, having fun."
She said she was not as close with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's older brother, Tamerlan, but "their family was like my family."
Smith said the fact that she is Christian and has multiple tattoos did not matter to the Tsarnaevs. "They showed me nothing but love," she said.
"It's all just so sad," Smith said. "It's hard to believe any of this is happening."