An FBI review team from Washington was in Orlando on Thursday investigating the death of Ibragim Todashev, the Central Florida man shot by an agent while being questioned about a triple murder in Massachusetts and his connection to the Boston Marathon bombing suspects.
The review team will question witnesses who were at the Orlando condo when the shooting occurred early Wednesday morning, including two Massachusetts State Police troopers and other law-enforcement officials. The FBI agent who fired the lethal shot, who has not been publicly identified, is from the agency's Boston division.
Todashev, a 27-year-old mixed-martial-arts fighter, was being questioned about a 2011 triple slaying in Waltham, Mass., federal-law-enforcement sources told the Tribune Washington bureau.
Federal officials think he and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the suspected Boston bombers, may have had a role in cutting the throats of three men and sprinkling marijuana over their bodies. One of the three Waltham victims, Brendan H. Mess, was described as a close friend of Tsarnaev's.
Todashev and Tsarnaev — both Chechen-born — knew each other through the mixed-martial-arts community in Boston, friends told the Orlando Sentinel.
In the wake of the shooting Wednesday, several of Todashev's friends told the Orlando Sentinel that the FBI had been questioning and following Todashev since two days after the April 15 Boston attack.
Tuesday night's interview was supposed to be his last, Todashev's friends said.
While the law-enforcement officials were questioning Todashev at the condo off Peregrine Avenue near Universal Studios, he initiated a "violent confrontation," said Orlando region FBI spokesman Dave Couvertier.
Todashev reportedly lunged at the FBI agent with a knife, and the law-enforcement officer fired. An autopsy was expected to be completed Thursday, but the report will not be made public for several weeks — if not months — because the case is under criminal investigation.
A relative stepped forward to claim Todashev's body from the Orange-Osceola County Medical Examiner, but the person's name was not made public. Friends said nearly all of Todashev's relatives are in Russia.
'Everything is a setup'
Todashev's estranged wife, Reniya Manukyan, denounced Todashev's slaying and posted photos of the couple together on a European social-media network for Russian-speaking users.
She used expletives to describe the FBI and wrote: "Killing my husband Ibragim was another prove that everything is a setup about Tsarnaev brothers as well."
In an undated photograph she posted Thursday, Manukyan commented that she "will fight to your justice," referring to Todashev.
Todashev's father, Abdulbaki, told Russia Today that his son was "a very calm" man who wouldn't become aggressive for no reason.
"Never in his life would he attack anyone unprovoked," Abdulbaki Todashev told the publication.
Although friends described him as a "good guy," Todashev was arrested by Orange County deputies earlier this month after he allegedly got into a fight with two men in an outlet-mall parking lot over a parking space.
A Sheriff's Office report said Todashev left the scene while one of the victims was unconscious on the ground surrounded by a "considerable" amount of blood.
"I thought he was wearing brass knuckles, but it was just his fist," said Lester García Baez, one of the men attacked. "It was shocking how accurate and quick his punches were."
And a former training partner at a gym outside Boston told the Sentinel that Todashev was a gifted athlete but also a "hothead."
FBI shootings rare in Florida
On Thursday morning, multiple FBI employees could be seen coming and going from the condo where Todashev was killed.
In addition to the FBI's review team, a separate Shooting Incident Review Group committee will analyze the incident, Couvertier said.
This independent review committee, which includes up to 13 members of the FBI, will evaluate whether use of force was justified.
FBI-involved shootings are rare in Florida, and none has occurred in recent history in Orlando. It was not immediately clear how many FBI-involved shootings occur each year in the United States.
In May 2010, an FBI agent shot and killed Ronald J. Bullock on MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.
The agent was helping base police arrest Bullock, who was armed with a knife. The FBI said Bullock ignored repeated commands to drop the weapon, and when he charged the agent, the law-enforcement officer fired.
The review group concluded the agent followed the FBI's deadly force policy and did not violate any laws.