Boston Bombing Suspect Unable To Communicate For Now

To some extent, it would appear that the debates over whether or not Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should have been read his Miranda rights immediately upon arrest are academic since he’s apparently in no medical condition to communicate at the moment:

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick told reporters the suspected Boston Marathon bomber captured Friday night was in “serious but stable” condition in an impromptu interview outside Fenway Park on Saturday.

“I think not … able to communicate yet,” Patrick said of 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, found hiding inside a covered boat in a Watertown backyard Friday night after a house-to-house manhunt across 20 nearby blocks of the Boston suburb.


Patrick would not comment on theories law enforcement officers may have regarding the brothers’ intentions for additional explosive devices found during the investigation.

“I, and I think all of the law enforcement professionals, are hoping for a host of reasons that the suspect survives, because we have a million questions, and those questions need to be answered,” Patrick said. “There are parts of the investigation, in terms of information and evidence, that still needs to be run to ground.”

Part of Tsarnaev’s medical condition may be due to injuries discovered when he was captured that could be an indication that he had attempted to kill himself, likely at some point after escaping from police early Friday morning:

BOSTON (CBS) — Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bombings suspect captured alive Friday, may have tried to commit suicide before he was apprehended, according to CBS News.

Tsarnaev suffered at least two bullet wounds — including one to his neck — before he was arrested in Watertown, CBS News security analyst John Miller said Saturday night.

The bullet wound to the neck, which has an exit wound in the back of the 19-year-old’s neck, “is very possibly a suicide attempt,” said Miller, a former assistant director at the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Miller also said the neck wound is the primary reason why Tsarnaev is unable to speak with investigators

Other reports indicate that Tsarnaev also has tongue damage, which may indicate he tried to shoot himself in the mouth and failed. In any case, his current medical condition means that any questioning, along with immediate legal proceedings will have to be put on hold until his is in a condition to be able to understand what’s happening and to communicate, even if by alternative means.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. JKB says:

    Let’s see, he runs over his brother as the brother his being handcuffed and taken into custody. Now he perhaps tried to kill himself. Fortunately, as a product of a fine liberal education he has no idea where his brain is.

    But it could be that these guys had a plan to ensure that neither was able to questioned. Whom might they be protecting?

  2. John Burgess says:

    I’m really reluctant to assume a suicide attempt. Shots are reported to have been fired at the boat in which he was hiding. Those could account for injuries beyond what he had sustained before arriving at the boat.

  3. Franklin says:

    @John Burgess: Yup, not to mention the previous fire fight. The speculation is rampant.

    Also, you gotta shoot at the top of your mouth.

  4. Ben says:

    Considering he was reportedly pre-med, (and quite intelligent), I find it hard to believe he would screw it up if he really wanted to kill himself. I think it’s much more likely that he got shot in the neck during the shootout, or when the police decided to riddle the boat with holes.

  5. CSK says:

    @Ben: @Ben:

    If it matters, he was majoring in marine biology, according to UMass/Dartmouth. The original report about him being a “medical student” came from his father, who may have had a slight language problem.

    It seems now that the police handled this well. By cutting off vehicular traffic in and out of Watertown and shutting down public transportation, they effectively boxed him into one area. He could hardly flee the city or the state on foot.

  6. Gustopher says:

    @CSK: even marine biologists know where the brain is.

    I’d believe he screwed up because his hands were shaking or he got scared at the last moment before I would believe he screwed up because he didn’t know where the brain was.

    Anyway, I hope he isn’t brain damaged. I want him to live a long life with the knowledge and understanding of what he did. Remorse would be good, but 70 years of self-pity has a certain vindictive ring to it.

  7. john personna says:

    Should so many have really followed JKB down the “where’s the brain” alley?

  8. ernieyeball says:

    @JKB: Whom might they be protecting?

    Could be they are protecting you.
    They would likely prefer that your wild eyed, biased, speculation be considered rather than any hard facts or evidence that might lead to the truth.

  9. anjin-san says:

    @ JKB

    Whom might they be protecting?

    Dunno. You should get more guns, a terrorist might kick in your door at any moment. You should probably also hide under the sheets and call your mommy.

  10. PJ says:


    You should probably also hide under the sheets and call your mommy.

    JKB’s mommy is busy washing the sheets since he wet the bed last night. Again. JKB misses his security blanket (with a gun on it), that the authorities (his father) took away.

  11. Stogie says:

    @ernieyeball: @ernieyeball: Yeah, imagine being biased against a guy who was shooting at the police, who murdered an MIT policeman, and who planted a bomb that killed three people and maimed several more? Bigotry is such a problem these days.

  12. Caj says:

    We want him to communicate in any form possible. We want to know why. I’m sure some on the right would want him tortured! Just seeing Dick Cheney face to face would be torture enough for me personally as he’s the devil incarnate as far as I’m concerned. So much blood on his hands.
    The trumped up Iraq war was the beginning of radicalizing many around the globe. Yet Republicans refuse to acknowledge it as a mistake which is exactly what it was and we’ve been paying the price ever since!