Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was charged by state and federal prosecutors on Thursday with a 30-count indictment that included using weapons of mass destruction, car-jacking, illegal use of a firearm during a violent crime and killing four people.
“What we allege is that they [Dzhokhar and his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev] took these acts as a measure of protest against what they viewed as actions by the United States in foreign countries,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz in a press conference on Thursday.
Seventeen of the charges carry the possibility of the death penalty, and the others carry the possibility of life in prison, according to a Thursday press release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
“This indictment is the result of exemplary cooperation between federal prosecutors and a wide range of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to investigate the horrific attacks on the Boston Marathon two months ago,” said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in a press release on Thursday.
Three people were killed and more than 260 were injured in two explosions near the Boston Marathon finish line on April 15. Dzhokhar and Tamerlan allegedly planted the explosives. Tamerlan was killed after a shootout with police on April 19 in Watertown and Dzhokhar was arrested after a prolonged manhunt that same day.
“I want to state that the indictment is just a set of charges that will start this legal process,” Ortiz said. “These are allegations. I want to stress that the defendant is presumed innocent.”
The indictment alleges that Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan started planning the attack as early as February and downloaded bomb-making instructions from an al Qaeda magazine.
Tamerlan purchased 48 mortars from Phanton Fireworks in Seabrook, N.H. that contained approximately eight pounds of explosive powder, and the two brothers went to Manchester, N.H. on March 20 to rent two 9mm handguns, according to the indictment.
Tamerlan placed the bomb in front of Marathon Sports at 671 Boylston St. and Dzhokhar placed the other bomb in front of the Forum restaurant at 755 Boylston St., the indictment alleged.
Three days after the bombings and the night the photographs of the suspects were released, the brothers allegedly drove to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus armed with five explosive devices, a semi-automatic handgun, a machete and a hunting knife and killed MIT Police Department officer Sean Collier, according to the indictment.
They carjacked a man’s Mercedes at gunpoint and forced him to turn over his bankcard where they took $800 from his account before the man escaped uninjured, the indictment stated. Tamerlan was killed in a shootout between the police where the brothers allegedly set off four explosives and fired on the officers. Dzhokhar fled the scene and drove over his brother.
Later that day, Dzhokhar was captured in a boat parked in a yard in Watertown.
He allegedly left a confession in the boat that said his actions were justified because of U.S. involvement in foreign affairs, according to the indictment.
“The U.S. Government is killing our innocent civilians,” he wrote, according to the indictment. “I can’t stand to see such evil go unpunished. We Muslims are one body, you hurt one, you hurt us all. Stop killing our innocent people, we will stop.”
Ortiz said she met with the relatives of those killed and wounded as a result of the bombings.
“The defendant’s conduct forever changed lives,” she said. “The victims, their families and this community have shown extraordinary strength and resilience in the face of this senseless violence.”
Tsarnaev is scheduled to be arraigned on July 10.