Was Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old suspect in this month’s bombing at the Boston Marathon, actually shot in the neck as news reports have suggested?
Or did he merely suffer a cut on his throat?
A televised interview with the SWAT team that caught the accused terrorist is raising new questions.
Until now, news media have indicated Tsarnaev likely suffered a gunshot wound to his throat.
New York’s Newsday reported, “Authorities believe Tsarnaev may have tried to shoot himself before he was taken into custody Friday night [April 19] because of the trajectory and location of the bullet wound in his neck, a source familiar with the investigation said. The shot was fired at close range, the source said, suggesting the wound was self-inflicted.”
The Boston Herald reported Tsarnaev “survived bullets to the head, neck and hand.”
However, during an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, the police SWAT team which apprehended Tsarnaev voiced a different view of the teen’s injury.
“I did see a throat injury. To me it looked more like a knife wound,” said Officer Jeff Campbell of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Transit Police SWAT Unit.
“It wasn’t a puncture hole. It was a slice where it was spread open, possibly a piece of shrapnel from one of the explosives that they were using the night before. It didn’t look like a bullet wound to me. It looked like a cut of some kind.”
Campbell held his fingers on the right side of his neck to demonstrate where the wound was specifically located.
Curiously, though, when CNN posted that interview online on YouTube, it edited out Campbell’s comments describing Tsarnaev’s throat injury.
“These remarks are from a SWAT team so they would know what a bullet wound would look like,” one analyst told WND. “So until his arrest, he was not shot in the throat.”
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was apparently photographed leaving the scene of the April 15 bombing by a man who was running the Boston Marathon.
“My first reaction, as people were really charging me – you know it was a stampede – and I could either flee or kind of go and help. I pulled my camera out and took one snapshot,” David Green, 49, of Jacksonville Beach, Fla., told WFTS-TV.
“I took that one picture that could have been helpful, so it’s about the greatest win I could ever have right there to have helped.”
An FBI agent told Green his photo was the best lead the bureau had. The image gives no indication of any wound the teen may have suffered in the marathon explosions.
Dzhokhar’s older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed April 19 during a gunfight in Watertown, Mass., with police who had pursued him and his teen brother after the killing of an MIT police officer and a carjacking.
The Herald noted a doctor who treated Tamerlan Tsarnaev said he had gunshot, shrapnel and blast wounds, and that police said Dzhokhar, while fleeing the scene of the shootout, drove over Tamerlan’s body.
The SWAT team took Dzhokhar into custody after he was found hiding in a dry-docked boat in the back yard of a local resident.
Dzhokhar had apparently provided some information to investigators, until he was advised of his right to remain silent.
He immediately stopped talking after a magistrate judge and a representative from the U.S. attorney’s office entered his hospital room and gave him his Miranda warning, a U.S. law enforcement source and four officials of both political parties briefed on the interrogation told the Associated Press.
The Department of Justice said the reading of Tsarnaev’s Miranda rights was coordinated with prosecutors, the federal defender, the court reporter, the U.S. Marshal Service and the hospital.
The AP noted that before being advised of his rights, the 19-year-old told authorities his older brother, Tamerlan, recruited him only recently to be part of the attack that detonated pressure-cooker bombs at the marathon finish line.
With additional research by Joshua Klein.