Former Friend Says Boston Suspect Had 'Air of Power,' Was 'Intense'

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A suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing who was shot dead after a police standoff on Friday had an “air of power” and an intensity that could frighten, his former friend told WNYC.

Ashley Stackowitz was a freshman at Suffolk University when she met Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the brothers suspected of being involved in the deadly marathon bombing. He and her roommate began dating.

At first, she said, Stackowitz would hang out with them too, going drinking at bars like the Underbar in Boston. He'd give them rides in his nice car and he would pay for things.

But eventually, Stackowitz said, she felt uncomfortable around Tsarnaev. She described him as the clear leader of his group of friends, with "an air of power." He was "wicked intense," she described, and at times forceful with women.  

She said he had a thick Russian accent, but was comfortable speaking English. She said he was close to his family, particularly a sister and his mother, whom she remembered he lived with. She never heard him discuss religion or international affairs.

Her roommate broke up with him, but they got back together, though her friends warned against it. Stackowitz says her roommate eventually started wearing a headscarf and became a practicing Muslim.

Stackowitz said her roommate told her she'd dropped out of school when she got pregnant. The last time they talked in 2011, her roommate told her she'd married Tsarnaev at City Hall and had a daughter. She was considering changing her name to a Russian or Muslim name.

Stackowitz said they haven't been in touch since. When she tries to call her old roommate now, her messages go to a full voicemail.