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Tsarnaev friend killed in Orlando by FBI

Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Ibragim Todashev

Ibragim Todashev

More than five weeks after the Boston Marathon attacks, federal authorities are still scouring the nation looking for radical Chechans who had connections to the bombers. Early Wednesday morning the FBI met with one of them in Orlando, Florida and he ended up shot to death.

PHOTOS: Boston Marathon Bombings

The circumstances are unclear but friends and neighbors have identified the dead man as Ibragim Todashev, 26. Authorities keyed on Todashev because he was in contact with one of the Boston bombers prior to last month's marathon attack, law enforcement sources said.

Todashev was from Chechnya and apparently told federal authorities that he had met Tamerlan Tsarnaev in Boston, but that he knew nothing about the planned attack.

When federal agents in central Florida went to visit Todashev overnight, it may have been because he was preparing to leave the United States and return to Chechnya, according to neighbors who spoke with local reporters after the shooting. Authorities had previously questioned him about the Boston bombings and his relationship with the Tsarnaev brothers - part of a nationwide effort to weed out radical links to the notorious attack.

The ABC I-Team reports Wednesday morning's shooting incident may have occurred when a federal agent became spooked by Todashev and thought that his life was threatened, then opened fire.

One connection that is clear: both Todashev and Tsarnaev were on the "mixed martial arts" fighting circuit. There are advertisements and Internet videos of Todashev in the ring.

A recent police mugshot (above) of Todashev was taken following his arrest on charges of aggravated assault in early May.

The FBI is not releasing much information yet. According to FBI spokesperson Special Agent Dave Couvertier: "We are currently responding to a shooting incident involving an FBI special agent. The incident occurred in Orlando Florida. The agent encountered the suspect while conducting official duties. The suspect is deceased. We do not have any further details at this time. We expect to have more information later this morning."

The Florida incident comes a few days after a Chechen rebel who said his home was searched by the FBI in connection to the Boston Marathon bombing investigation. That man issued a public statement claiming he had "nothing to do with the terrible act in Boston."

"I would like to state that I barely knew the Tsarnaev family, and only met them for the first time after we moved to the U.S.," 35-year-old Musa Khadjimuradov said in a letter handed to media outlets.

"During the very few encounters, which were initiated by Tsarnaev, we have never discussed political or religious issues, so I could never guess what ideas were in their minds."

"Should I have any suspicions I would do my duty to prevent what happened at the Boston marathon," he added.

Khadjimuradov said he was repeatedly interviewed by the FBI and agents searched his home and took DNA and fingerprint samples, but that the encounter was peaceful.

Full FBI Statement:

"We are currently reviewing a shooting incident involving an FBI special agent. Based on preliminary information, the incident occurred in Orlando, Florida during the early morning hours of 5/22/2013. The agent, along with other law enforcement personnel, were interviewing an individual in connection with the Boston Marathon bombing investigation when a violent confrontation was initiated by the subject. During the confrontation, the individual was killed and the agent sustained non-life threatening injuries. As this incident is under review, we have no further details at this time."

(Copyright ©2014 WLS-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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