Grand Jury Returns 30-count Indictment Against Boston Bombing Suspect

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

(CNN) — A federal grand jury has returned a 30-count indictment against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, the U.S. attorney’s office in Massachusetts said Thursday.

The counts involve his “alleged role in using weapons of mass destruction” at the April 15 event “to kill three individuals and maim or seriously injure many others” and “using a firearm to intentionally kill Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Police Officer Sean Collier.” At least 264 people were injured in the double bombings, which took place near the marathon finish line.

Police took Tsarnaev, 19, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, into custody on April 19 after finding him hiding in a boat in the backyard of a Watertown, Massachusetts, home. The other bombing suspect, his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, died after a gunfight with authorities hours before his brother’s arrest. After much secrecy and protest, Tamerlan was buried in a rural Virginia cemetery.

Tsarnaev was charged by indictment with a range of counts, the office of U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said in a media statement.

The charges are use of a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death and conspiracy; bombing of a place of public use resulting in death and conspiracy; malicious destruction of property resulting in death and conspiracy; use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence; use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence causing death; carjacking resulting in serious bodily injury; interference with commerce by threats or violence; and aiding and abetting.

Seventeen charges authorize a penalty of up to life in prison or the death penalty. Other charges authorize a maximum penalty of life in prison or a fixed term of years. He is scheduled to be arraigned on July 10 in U.S. District Court in Boston.

Alleged conspiracy started no later than February

The indictment alleges that the brothers conspired to use improvised explosive devices against people, property and public places from no later than February until Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was apprehended.

“The brothers placed IEDs among the crowds of spectators who were cheering the runners towards the Marathon finish line” and “detonated the bombs seconds apart, killing three people, maiming and injuring many more, and forcing a premature end to the Marathon.”

The IEDs were made from pressure cookers, explosive powder, shrapnel, adhesives and other items, and were designed to shred skin, shatter bone and cause extreme pain and suffering, as well as death, the indictment said.

On April 18, the FBI released photographs of the brothers, identifying them as bombing suspects.

Hours later, they drove their Honda Civic to the MIT campus, where they shot and killed Collier and attempted to steal his service weapon, the indictment said. They were armed with five IEDs, a Ruger P95 semiautomatic handgun, ammunition, a machete and a hunting knife.

After they killed Collier, “they carjacked a Mercedes, kidnapped the driver, and forced him to drive to a gas station, robbing him of $800 along the way.” The driver escaped, and the brothers drove the carjacked vehicle to Watertown, where police spotted and tried to apprehend them.

“The brothers fired at the police officers and used four additional IEDs against them. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev then reentered the carjacked vehicle and drove it directly at the officers, running over his brother as he managed to escape. Tsarnaev is alleged to have hidden in a dry-docked boat in a Watertown backyard until his arrest the following night,” the attorney’s office said.

While Dzhokhar was hiding from police in the boat, he scrawled messages on an inside wall and boat beams that give a hint about his alleged motivation:

“The U.S. Government is killing our innocent civilians.” “I can’t stand to see such evil unpunished.” We Muslims are one body, you hurt one you hurt us all.” “Now I don’t like killing innocent people it is forbidden in Islam but due to said [unintelligible] it is allowed.” And, “Stop killing our innocent people and we will stop.”