A mixed martial arts fighter who along with deceased Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev has been linked to a Sept. 11, 2011, triple homicide, was shot and killed by authorities early Wednesday in Orlando, Fla., when he attacked an FBI agent questioning him, a federal law enforcement source said.
The FBI identified the man as Ibragim Todashev, 27, who knew Tsarnaev, a former boxer, through Boston's prizefighting world, the source said. Todashev, who had implicated both himself and Tsarnaev in the killings, was about to sign a confession when he lunged at the agent while holding something in his hand, the source said.
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Authorities were questioning Todashev, like Tsarnaev, a Muslim with roots in Chechnya, in his Orlando apartment early Wednesday about whether he was involved in the slayings -- as well as his possible connections to any jihadist groups, the source said. When Todashev lunged at the agent, one of those questioning him opened fire, the source said. No one has been charged in the killings of the men in Waltham, Mass.
"The agent, two Massachusetts State Police troopers, and other law enforcement personnel were interviewing an individual in connection with the Boston Marathon bombing investigation when a violent confrontation was initiated by the individual," the FBI said in a statement. "During the confrontation, the individual was killed and the agent sustained nonlife-threatening injuries."
Todashev purchased airline tickets for a trip from Orlando to New York and Russia, but some time before Wednesday's interview, authorities told him not to make the trip, the source said. He was not suspected of having any involvement the April 15 marathon bombings that killed three people and injured more than 260, the source said.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died in a shootout with police days after the bombings at the 117th Boston Marathon. Tamerlan's brother, Dzhokhar, 19, is being held on federal terror charges in connection with the bombings. Authorities are probing whether the younger brother played any role in the 2011 murders.
Authorities suspected Tsarnaev's and Todashev's involvements in the homicides because recent testing of evidence at the crime scene -- an apartment complex in Waltham -- suggests it. The victims' throats were slit and marijuana was sprinkled on their bodies, the source said.
After the killings, the victims were identified as Erik Weissman, Raphael Teken and Brendan Mess, a boxer with whom the bomber trained, the source said. Tsarnaev had known Todashev when the mixed martial arts fighter lived in the Boston area, the source said.
Authorities are probing whether drug dealing or religion played a role because execution by throat-slitting is a favored tactic of some jihadist groups, and Weissman and Teken were Jewish.
Todashev had run-ins with the law before. Orlando deputies arrested him on battery charges May 4, and he was charged in 2010 after a road rage incident, according to an arrest report.