The shooting of a man in Florida who was connected to one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects adds a mysterious new twist to a story that has transfixed the region — and underscores why authorities need to launch an independent review of the entire saga. Ibragim Todashev, 27, was a former Massachusetts resident and acquaintance of bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Todashev was shot and killed during an interrogation Wednesday at his apartment in Orlando, when the FBI says he lunged at an investigator with a blade.
The killing of a suspect in a controlled setting always raises questions, and the FBI and Massachusetts State Police need to explain why more precautions weren’t taken in Todashev’s case, especially considering his martial-arts training and documented history of violence. But Todashev’s death is especially alarming in light of the startling confession that he is said to have been on the verge of making.
According to reports, Todashev had implicated himself and Tsarnaev in an unsolved triple murder in Waltham on Sept. 11, 2011, and may have been about to sign a confession. In that gruesome crime, Brendan H. Mess, Rafael M. Teken, and Erik H. Weissman were found with their throats cut and bodies sprinkled with marijuana and cash.
The revelation that Todashev linked himself and Tsarnaev to the murders could provide some closure to the Waltham victims’ families. But it also raises inevitable questions about what, if anything, could have been done to solve that case earlier. Hindsight, of course, is 20-20. But if Tsarnaev had been tied to the Waltham case earlier, it might have prevented the Marathon bombings. The Waltham case now becomes a link in a chain of events that bears wider scrutiny.
In the immediate aftermath of the bombings, the city united in grief for the victims and pride in police and first responders. While amply justified, that spirit shouldn’t translate into a see-no-evil attitude that ignores possible lapses. In the weeks since the bombing, many legitimate questions have emerged. Did investigators in the Waltham case miss any clues? Was race-day security adequate? After the explosions, was the Boston fire chief’s response lacking, as some of his deputies have charged? How did an MBTA police officer get hit with “friendly fire” in the Watertown standoff? Was the interrogation of Todashev in Florida conducted properly?
To better prepare for the future, the city needs answers.