Speaking to AP by telephone in the southern Russian republic of Dagestan after police said one of his sons, 26-year-old Tamerlan, had been killed in a shoot-out and the other, Dzhokhar, was being intensely pursued over the blasts which killed three and wounded up to 200.
“They were set up, they were set up!” he exclaimed. “I saw it on television; they killed my older son Tamerlan.”
Of his younger son, he said: “My son is a true angel... Dzhokhar is a second-year medical student in the US. He is such an intelligent boy. We expected him to come on holidays here.”
Tsarnaev, badly agitated, said little more ending the call angrily, saying: “Leave me alone, my son’s been killed.”
The family’s origins are in Chechnya, the mostly Muslim Russian republic where separatist rebels fought two full-scale wars with Russian forces since 1994.
A spokesman for Chechnya’s leader said the family left Chechnya long ago and went to Central Asia, then moved to Dagestan, a Muslim republic adjacent to Chechnya that has been the site of a sporadic insurgency for more than a decade.
Exactly how the long night of crime began is unclear. Police said they had conflicting reports on whether the brothers robbed a 7-Eleven in Cambridge, near the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, on Thursday night.
They then shot dead an MIT police officer, 26-year- old Sean Collier, while he was responding to a report of a disturbance, investigators said.
From there, authorities said, the two men carjacked a man in a Mercedes-Benz, keeping him with them in the car for half an hour before releasing him at a gas station in Cambridge. The man was not injured.
The search for the vehicle led to a chase that ended in Watertown, where authorities said the suspects threw explosive devices from the car and exchanged gunfire with police. A transit police officer was severely wounded, authorities said.
Doctors at a Boston hospital where Tamerlan Tsarnaev died said they treated a man with a possible blast injury and multiple gunshot wounds. Authorities gave few details on his brother’s escape but said he ran over his brother while fleeing
Last night, it emerged that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was seen on his university campus after Monday’s deadly explosions.
The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth evacuated its campus after confirming that Tsarnaev is a registered student there.
Students said Tsarnaev lived in a dormitory. Harry Danso, who lives on the same floor, said he saw him in a dorm hallway this week.
“He was regular, he was calm,” said Mr Danso, who described Tsarnaev as a quiet kid who sometimes would ask him for a homework assignment.
Sonia Ribeiro, 19, was in a philosophy class with Tsarnaev. She said he was on campus this week, but not in class: “He was laid back. I would never expect this at all from him.”
Florida Addy, 19, lived on the same dormitory floor as Dzhokhar last year. She called him “drug” – the Russian word for friend, pronounced “droog”.
She said he spent a lot of time with other kids from Russia.
Ms Addy said she last saw him last week, when she asked him for a cigarette: “He was nice. He was cool. I’m just in shock.”