The Slatest

Report: Tsarnaev Friend Shot By FBI Was In Process of Confessing to 2011 Triple Murder

Tamerlan Tsarnaev (L) fights Lamar Fenner (R) during the 201-pound division boxing match during the 2009 Golden Gloves National Tournament of Champions May 4, 2009 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Ibragim Todashev seen here in a booking photo from May 2013 after he had been arrested for aggrevated battery in an unrelated case

Photo courtesy of the Orange County Corrections Department

UPDATE: ABC News brings us the latest unconfirmed news from Florida, where an FBI agent shot and killed a man with ties to Tamerlan Tsarnaev this morning after an interview turned violent:

The man shot dead by an FBI agent in Orlando, Florida early today was “about to sign a statement” admitting to a role, along with Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, in an unsolved triple murder in Massachusetts in 2011, two people with direct knowledge of the case told ABC News.

Ibragim Todashev “just went crazy,” and pulled a knife during his interview with the FBI, said state and federal law enforcement officials briefed on the latest strange twist in the investigation of the Boston Marathon bombing.

The FBI has so far provided only broad details of this morning’s confrontation and shooting, so for now it’s best to treat these loosely sourced reports with at least some skepticism. Still, law enforcement officials had previously speculated that Tsarnaev may have been responsible for the triple murder, which occurred on or around Sept. 11, 2011. According to ABC’s sources, Tsarnaev and Todashev trained at the same mixed martial arts gym in Boston that one of the murder victims also frequented. Earlier this month, Massachusetts investigators reportedly found what they called “mounting evidence” that suggested Tsarnaev—along with his younger brother, Dzhokhar—were involved in the gruesome homicide.

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Original Post at 9:45 a.m.: A man with ties to Tamerlan Tsarnaev was shot and killed by an FBI agent early this morning when an interview turned violent inside the man’s apartment in Orlando, Fla., according to the FBI. In a statement, the bureau said that they were still reviewing the incident but, based on preliminary information, the shooting occurred “when a violent confrontation was initiated by the subject.” During the incident, the agent sustained “non-life threatening injuries” and the interviewee was killed, according to the FBI.

The dead man has been identified as Ibragim Todashev by a number of law enforcement officials who have spoken to the media on background.

CBS News’ John Miller reports that FBI agents went to Todashev’s apartment complex after midnight to question him about his connection with Tsarnaev, the deceased Boston Marathon bombing suspect. The reason for the late-night visit, according to Miller, was that there were indications that Todashev had canceled a planned trip to Chechnya at the last minute. “In the encounter in the apartment, something went wrong,” Miller said during an appearance on CBS This Morning.

NBC News’ sources offer a little more detail, saying that Todashev was cooperative at first but, as the interview dragged on, later turned aggressive and attacked the agent. The network also reports that Todashev, 27, had previously spent some time in the Boston area, where he was a cage fighter, and knew Tsarnaev there. Todashev is believed to have some connection to Chechen rebels, but he is not suspected of having played any role in the marathon bombings, according to NBC’s law enforcement sources.

In the wake of the marathon bombings, the FBI has interviewed a number of people who knew the Tsarnaev brothers in a bid to learn how the two were radicalized. As part of those effort, the New York Times explains, agents have put a special focus on speaking to members of the small community of ethnic Chechens in the United States. Some advocates within the community, however, have expressed concern that Moscow might be steering the FBI to target Chechens living in the United States who are hostile to Russia.

Follow @JoshVoorhees and the rest of the @slatest team on Twitter, and read more on Slate about the Boston Marathon bombing.

This post has been updated with a more recent statement from the FBI.