WORCESTER (CBS/AP) — The uncle of a Boston Marathon bombing suspect killed in a gun battle with police arrived at a funeral home Sunday to arrange for his burial.
Ruslan Tsarni of Montgomery Village, Md., and three other men met with Worcester funeral home director Peter Stefan. The men who accompanied Tsarni plan to wash and perform Muslim burial rites on the body of 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Stefan said.
Outside the funeral home, Graham Putnam & Mahoney Funeral Parlors, Tsarni told reporters he’s not proud of Tamerlan Tsarnaev but there is no one else to take care of the burial. “I’m left alone to deal with this matter,” he said.
The soft-spoken Tsarni told reporters his religion tells him “this person needs to be buried.”
Tsarnaev, who had appeared in surveillance photos wearing a black cap and was identified as Suspect No. 1, died days after the April 15 bombing, which killed three people and injured more than 260 others.
Stefan said he still hasn’t found a cemetery that is willing to bury Tsarnaev. He plans to ask the city of Cambridge, where Tsarnaev lived, to provide a burial plot, Stefan said, and if Cambridge turns him down, he will seek help from state officials.
Stefan said he has received calls from people criticizing him and calling him “un-American” for being willing to handle Tsarnaev’s funeral.
“We take an oath to do this. Can I pick and choose? No. Can I separate the sins from the sinners? No,” he said. “We are burying a dead body. That’s what we do.”
Stefan said Tsarnaev’s uncle told him he is anxious to bury his nephew.
“They just want to get it over with. They want to get him buried,” Stefan said.
Tsarni has denounced the acts that his nephews — Tamerlan and younger brother Dzhokhar — are accused of committing and has said they brought shame to the family and the entire Chechen ethnicity. The brothers are ethnic Chechens from Russia who came to the United States about a decade ago with their parents. Both parents returned to Dagestan last year.
Dzhokhar, 19, is in a prison hospital, facing a potential death sentence if convicted of the terrorism plot.