Updated: Wed, 24 Apr 2013 11:14:09 GMT | By Adrienne Mong, Correspondent, NBC News

NYPD chief: Bombing suspects may have been headed for NYC to party



Tamerlan Tsarnaev is seen in a booking photo from a 2009 arrest in Cambridge, Mass.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev is seen in a booking photo from a 2009 arrest in Cambridge, Mass.

The brothers suspected in the Boston Marathon bombings may have been headed for New York to party after the attack, the New York police commissioner said Wednesday.

“There was some information that they may have been intent on coming to New York, but not to continue doing what they’re doing,” Kelly told reporters at police headquarters. “The information that we received said something about a party, or having a party.”

A man authorities say was carjacked by the brothers has told investigators he believes one of the brothers said “Manhattan” before he escaped, but investigators have cautioned that it may have been a language mixup because the brothers were speaking with Russian dialects.

The surviving brother has told investigators that the pair acted alone, were inspired by an al Qaeda propaganda magazine, and plotted the bombing to defend Islam after the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, federal law enforcement officials told NBC News.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed early Friday after a shootout with police in the Boston suburbs. His younger brother and alleged accomplice, Dzhokhar, is in fair condition at a Boston hospital. The brothers killed a campus patrol officer and carjacked an SUV before the shootout, authorities have said.

Homemade explosives and one semi-automatic handgun believed to belong to the brothers were recovered by investigators, officials said. The gun’s serial number was obliterated, but Massachusetts state police were working to reveal the number.

Cambridge police, meanwhile, released a booking photo of Tamerlan Tsarnaev from a 2009 domestic violence arrest during which he was accused of assaulting his girlfriend.

In a closed-door session on Wednesday, members of the House Intelligence Committee were briefed by the FBI and other federal agencies on the ongoing investigation. Among the issues discussed is what federal authorities knew about Tamerlan Tsarnaev's trip to Russia as well as a timeline on his radicalization. 

Also, according to an interview with Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Mich., the ranking member on the committee, it was learned that the device used to trigger the explosives was a remote control for a toy, not a cellphone as thought earlier.

Nine days after the twin blasts near the marathon finish line, authorities early Wednesday reopened the section of Boylston Street in central Boston where the first bomb went off.

The site of the explosion has been paved with fresh cement and is surrounded by orange construction cones but opened to foot traffic. People stopped to pay respects and take photos.

“The people of Boston are strong like cement. Strong people. They get together when it’s needed,” said Robert Bibias, a city masonry worker who early Wednesday cemented over what had been a blood-stained crime scene.

Thousands of people, including police from all over the country, gathered at the baseball stadium of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a memorial service for Sean Collier, the campus patrol officer who authorities said was shot to death by the Tsarnaev brothers before the carjacking and shootout.

With police snipers holding positions atop nearby buildings, Vice President Joe Biden called the perpetrators of the marathon bombing “twisted, perverted, cowardly, knockoff jihadis.”

“The irony is, we read about these events, we experience them, but the truth is, on every frontier, terrorism as a weapon is losing,” he said. “It is not gaining adherents.”

The vice president went on: “We will not hunker down. We will not be intimidated.”

His wife, Dr. Jill Biden, visited Boylston Street on Wednesday.

Private funerals were held Tuesday for Collier and for Martin Richard, the 8-year-old boy killed near the finish line. Two other people were killed at the marathon, and more than 200 were injured, including 39 who were still hospitalized Wednesday.

In Russia, the brothers’ aunt said that a Boston-area mosque has refused to hold a funeral for Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

American authorities have told the family that they can have Tsarnaev’s body, and an uncle approached the mosque to request a burial and funeral but was declined, said the aunt, Patimat Suleimanova.

She said that she did not know the name of the mosque but that it was one the family attended. A mosque in Cambridge, Mass., has said that Tsarnaev attended and occasionally caused disruptions and that mosque leaders threatened to kick him out.

A spokesman for the Cambridge mosque, Yusufi Vali, said the mosque had not heard from the family.

“There were some reports out there that we had rejected his burial, and — or the family had reached out to us, rather. And to our knowledge, you know, the family has not reached out to us,” he said on the MSNBC program “Andrea Mitchell Reports.”

The mosque, run by the Islamic Society of Boston, has also said that congregants have been questioned by the FBI. The mosque did not immediately return a request for comment Wednesday from NBC News.

Earlier this week, Imam Talal Eid of the Islamic Institute of Boston, a separate institution, told The Huffington Post: “I would not be willing to do a funeral for him. This is a person who deliberately killed people. There is no room for him as a Muslim.”

NBC News' Adrienne Mong, Alastair Jamieson, Bill Dedman and Matthew DeLuca contributed to this report.

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