Bomb suspects’ next target was Times Square

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was unarmed when apprehended by police

Boston Marathon bombing victim Heather Abbott of Newport. Rhode Island is wheeled into a press conference at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Photograph: Darren McCollester/Getty Images

Boston Marathon bombing victim Heather Abbott of Newport. Rhode Island is wheeled into a press conference at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Photograph: Darren McCollester/Getty Images


The Boston Marathon bombing suspects, brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, had planned to bomb Times Square in New York, the city’s mayor has said.

Michael Bloomberg said the city authorities were informed on Wednesday night that the surviving suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, told investigators that the busy tourist area in New York was “next on their list of targets”.

The brothers devised the plan on a whim following the bombings as they talked in a car they had hijacked near Boston late last week, said New York city police commissioner Ray Kelly.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is recovering in a Boston hospital from wounds sustained in a gun battle with police, told interrogators he and his brother had planned to go to New York to “party” but he changed his story after questioning to say they had planned to detonate the remaining explosives there, according to Mr Kelly.

It has emerged that Mr Tsarnaev was unarmed when he gave himself up following a barrage of gunfire last Friday.

Police found only a single firearm, a Ruger 9mm semi-automatic handgun, following the firefight with the Chechen-American and his brother Tamerlan in the early hours of last Friday.

Police have said there was evidence at the scene of the killing of Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier to show that the Tsarnaevs, the suspects in his shooting, may have attempted to take his gun, but were unable to do so due to a triple-locking holster.

Mr Tsarnaev, who has been charged with causing death using a weapon of mass destruction, remains in a fair condition. He has stopped answering questions since being read his constitutional right to silence.

Investigators have found that Mr Tsarnaev was not armed and have found no gun in the boat where he had hidden from police in a back garden in Watertown outside Boston during a huge manhunt.

Boston police commissioner Ed Davis had said on Saturday that shots were fired from inside the boat but it appears that a police officer may have opened fire on the boat in the belief he had seen a hand emerging from under the tarpaulin, leading other officers to fire as well.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev died after a shootout with police in the early hours of Friday morning about 20 hours before Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was taken into custody after being found seriously wounded in the boat.

The brothers are suspected of planting the two bombs that killed three and injured more than 260 near the finishing line of the Boston Marathon.

The Boston Globe reported that the Russian authorities told the US five days ago that it knew of no contact between Tamerlan Tsarnaev and any known terrorist group during his six-month trip last year to the mostly Muslim region of Dagestan. The information would support the theory the brothers acted alone.

Their father, Anzor Tsarnaev, is expected to travel to the US to help investigators. His wife, Zubeidat, refuses to accept that the bombings happened, describing them as fake and telling CNN there was no blood in the bombings and that paint was used instead.

Russian president Vladimir Putin called for closer co-operation with the US on security issues after it emerged that the Russian security services had sought information from the US over concerns that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was preparing to travel to Russia to join “unspecified underground groups”.