"A Lovely, Lovely Kid" Friends & Teachers Describe Boston Bomber Dzhokhar "Jahar" Tsarnaev

Owen Poindexter
The friends and neighbors of Dzhokhar "Jahar" Tsarnaev are in disbelief that he could have carried out the Boston Marathon bombings. Here is what they're saying.

The friends and neighbors of Dzhokhar "Jahar" Tsarnaev are in disbelief that he could have carried out the Boston Marathon bombings.
While police are still on the hunt for 19 year-old Dzhokhar "Jahar" Tsarnaev in connection to the Boston Marathon bombings, the media has sought out his friends, classmates and neighbors to learn about the teenager who, along with his brother, who died in a shootout early this morning, allegedly carried out the Boston Marathon attacks that killed 3 people and injured over 170. The people that knew Jahar all expressed the same thing: total shock. Unlike with Adam Lanza, James Holmes, or other mass killers who come to mind, there were no signs, even in retrospect. Jahar Tsarnaev was a nice, normal kid, and not even excessively nice or weirdly normal.
Here's how classmate Eric Machado described Jahar to CNN:
I'm in shock that he would do this. Once I saw the photos I kind of had an idea that it was him but you never want to throw someone... that I knew personally under the bus, and kind of assume that it was him. It was kind of more of a joke: "Oh hey that looks like Jahar." But it was clearly not a joke, and should have been taken a little more seriously on my part. It was not something you could ever predict, and it was kind of a shock.
Machado was asked if there was any trauma or something in Jahar's past that could provide a clue as to why he would do something like this. Other than a conversation about a year ago, Machado said that nothing came to mind:

No, not that I can really point out. A friend of mine... he had told me that there was a conversation that him and another close friend of mind had had maybe six months to a year ago in regards to the act of terrorism not being a serious issue 'if you come from a place that I come from.' And those comments were obviously a red flag in my head, if he was willing to say something like that... We all went to high school with him, we would see him in the hallways, we'd say hi. He was just a normal kid, you know, and to think he's capable of something like this...it's beyond belief.

Machado was clearly still rattled by the event, but he was more composed than many others. Some of Jahar's facebook friends could not hold it together. Here is some of what was compiled by Mother Jones:


To many, the plain facts of the case simply do not compute:

I can't believe I went through 4 years of high school and was friends with someone who carried out a terrorist attack...he was always so funny and friendly! I still can't believe it!! I still hope he had nothing to do with this!!

One more:

I don't believe I know that bomber. And I've known him for yeaaaaarssss!!!! Dzho this is ridiculous man .. What happened bro, daaaamn, and I thought you loved us dude!!!!

It's not just his classmates who were shocked, a former teacher and photographer at Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's high school, Larry Aaronson expressed profound disbelief to CNN:

I'm more than a neighbor, I'm a retired teacher in the high school where he graduated from, and I work part time as a photographer at the high school. I photographed him extensively as a wrestler on the wrestling team, so I got to know him. There is nothing in his character in his comportment in his demeanor that would suggest anything remotely capable of any of these things he is now suspected of doing.

I learned from him that he was Chechen, because I asked him what was the origin of his name...and I said "Oh my god, were you there during the war," and he said he was, and I said 'Oh my god how did you survive it...' and he spoke about how you just bear down, you do what you got to do, and the point is that he was so grateful to be here. he was so grateful to be in this school, he was so grateful to be accepted, and there was nothing, nothing like this at all. He was forthcoming, he was a lovely, lovely kid.

One wonders about his background growing up during the Chechen War. One wonders how long the part of Jahar that was capable of killing lurked inside of him. One wonders what influence his brother had. All we can do is wonder, but it's telling, that the people wondering the most are those closest to Jahar.