WEST NEW YORK, N.J. » The FBI today removed a computer from the New Jersey home of a sister of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects. Police said she was cooperating with the investigation and was “heartbroken, surprised and upset,” though she told reporters she wasn’t sure the accusations against her brothers were true.
The woman, identified by local police as Ailina Tsarnaeva, told federal agents she had not been in contact with her brothers for years, according to Police Director Michael Indri.
“The main concern was to confirm that there was no contact made one way or the other, and I’m confident that the FBI has confirmed that,” he said.
The woman’s three-story brick building, across the Hudson River from New York City, was cordoned off as federal agents searched the home and left with a computer and other electronics.
Early in the day, she spoke through a barely open door to News12 New Jersey and The Star-Ledger, telling them she was sorry for the families that lost loved ones “the same way I lost my loved one.”
“I’m hurt for everyone that’s been hurt,” she told the TV station and newspaper.
Her brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed overnight in a shootout with police outside Boston. Her younger brother, Dzhokhar, was taken into custody Friday evening after a manhunt that left the Boston metropolitan area virtually paralyzed.
“He was a great person,” the woman said of her dead brother. “I thought I knew him. I never would have expected that from him. He is a kind and loving man. The cops took his life away just the same way he took others’ lives away, if that’s even true. At the end of the day, no one knows the truth.”
“I have no idea what got into them,” she said.
Indri said the woman was cooperating with the FBI.
“She’s heartbroken, surprised and upset like we all are,” he said.
A woman who described herself as a friend of Ailina described a different relationship between the woman and the elder brother.
Vicki Colon, of Passaic, said the woman feared him because “he used to beat her.”
Colon said she met the two brothers during a visit to Massachusetts a couple years ago. She said the younger brother was very quiet.
The sister last spoke to Colon on April 6, Colon’s birthday. Colon said she saw a Facebook posting Thursday night that led her to believe the woman may not have known her brothers had been identified as suspects.
“It just said, ‘God is great, I love my family,’ basically,” Colon said.
West New York Mayor Felix Roque spoke briefly with Ailina Tsarnaeva and her family shortly after her younger brother was taken into custody tonight. Roque said he wanted to offer his assistance to her as a resident of the town.
“I’m looking at the human side of this,” Roque said as he left the home. “It’s not easy, it’s not easy for them. They are really hurting. They are human beings, just like all of us … it’s a family death and it’s not easy for them.”
Associated Press writer David Porter in Passaic, N.J., contributed to this report.