DARTMOUTH, Mass. — Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth this week after the explosions killed three people and wounded more than 180 others, his classmates told The Associated Press on Friday.
The university evacuated its campus Friday morning after confirming that Tsarnaev, the at-large suspect in the bombings, is a registered student there.
Robert Lamontagne, a university spokesman, declined to comment beyond confirming that Tsarnaev was registered there. He would not immediately say when Tsarnaev enrolled, what he was studying or whether he lived on campus.
His father told The Associated Press that his 19-year-old son was studying medicine. The UMass-Dartmouth campus, about an hour’s drive south of Boston on the state’s South Coast, has a pre-med program.
Students said Tsarnaev lived on the third floor of the Pine Dale dormitory. Harry Danso, who lives on the same floor, told the AP he saw him in a dorm hallway this week.
“He was regular, he was calm,” said Danso, who described Tsarnaev as a quiet kid who would sometimes ask him for a homework assignment.
Sonia Ribeiro, 19, of Boston, was in a philosophy class with Tsarnaev. She also said he was on campus this week, although not in class.
“He was laid back. I would never expect this at all from him,” she said.
Law enforcement officials and family members identified the suspects as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his older brother Tamerlan. They were ethnic Chechen brothers who had lived in Dagestan, which neighbors Chechnya in southern Russia. Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with police while Dzhokhar escaped.
Florida Addy, 19, of Lynn, lived on the same dormitory floor as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev last year. She called him “drug” — the Russian word for friend, pronounced “droog” — and said they would sometimes hang out together in his room.
She said he spent a lot of his time with other kids from Russia and that a few times she accompanied with him to the apartment of some Russian students he knew in New Bedford, not far from campus. She said he would always speak Russian in the apartment, although he usually didn’t speak it around her.
He was quiet, friendly and a little mysterious, but in a charming way, she said. He usually wore a hoodie or a white T-shirt and sweatpants, she said.
Addy said she just learned he had a girlfriend who did not attend UMass Dartmouth. The last time she saw him was last week when she bummed a cigarette off him, she said.
“He was nice. He was cool. I’m just in shock,” she said.
The school said in a statement that it evacuated campus “out of an abundance of caution,” amid a manhunt for Tsarnaev.
FBI agents, SWAT teams, a Massachusetts State Police armored truck and two helicopters were seen on the campus.
Two years ago, Brian Glyn Williams, a UMass Dartmouth professor of Islamic studies, helped Tsarnaev with a high school project about Chechnya. Williams was put in contact with the student through a friend who’s a teacher at Cambridge Rindge & Latin, Tsarnaev’s high school. The two only communicated via email and telephone and never met face to face, even when Tsarnaev started attending the school.
The project was about Chechen history and the origins of its wars with Russia, and Williams got the impression that Tsarnaev was trying to reconnect with his ethnic identity and homeland.
Williams remembers Tsarnaev as polite and unremarkable. He doesn’t recall any sort of political or religious discussions.
“It’s sort of sickening,” Williams said of the bombings.
Smith reported from Providence, R.I. Associated Press writers Bob Salsberg and Pat Eaton-Robb contributed to this report from Boston.
State Police arrest a man walking at the UMASS-Dartmouth campus during their sweep of the university Friday, April 19, 2013, in Dartmouth, Mass. UMASS-Dartmouth. (AP Photo/Standard Times, Peter Pereira)×
UMASS-Dartmouth students were evacuated from campus on Friday, April 19, 2013 as local and state officials investigate the dorm room of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev,19 . The campus closed down along with colleges around the Boston area. (AP Photo/Standard Times, Peter Pereira)×