Neighbor stunned by Phillipos' arrest
CAMBRIDGE (WHDH) -- Three college friends of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were arrested and accused Wednesday of removing a backpack containing hollowed-out fireworks from Tsarnaev's dorm room three days after the attack to keep him from getting into trouble.
Robel Phillipos, 19, who graduated from the prestigious Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School with Tsarnaev, was charged with lying to investigators about the visit to Tsarnaev's room.
Phillipos and Tsarnaev graduated high school in 2011 and both attended college at UMass Dartmouth.
The affidavit says investigators started interviewing Phillipos after the bombings. Investigators said Phillipos denied knowing anything about moving the backpack or throwing the backpack away. Finally, on the fourth time investigators spoke with him, they said he admitted he wasn’t telling the truth to investigators.
Phillipos lives with his mother in Cambridge. Phillipos’ mother is from Ethiopia. She is a single mother and works with refugees. The family’s apartment building is located next to the gas station where the carjacking victim from the night of the shootout in Watertown escaped.
Everyone in the neighborhood said they are stunned to learn of the developments.
“I feel very bad. I feel sorry for his mom,” said Tecleverhan Mengistu, neighbor of Phillipos’ mother. He has known the family for about 15 years. “Robel is a nice boy, very nice kid -- he [doesn’t] talk too much…he’s a very nice boy.”
Mengistu also said he has seen the FBI in the area in the last week. He said the FBI talked to his son because his son went to school with Tsarnaev and Phillipos in Cambridge.
Phillipos faces a maximum of eight years behind bars and a $250,000 fine.