An FBI agent in Orlando shot dead a man questioned in the Boston bombing investigation whom the agency says turned violent during an interview early Wednesday.
The suspect was identified by the FBI as Ibragim Todashev, 27, of Orlando.
FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said the agent involved in the shooting on Peregrine Avenue near Kirkman and Vineland roads, near Universal Orlando, acted on an imminent threat and shot Todashev during an interview. The FBI agent was "conducting official duties" when Todashev initiated a "violent confrontation" and was shot, agent Dave Couvertier said in a statement.
The agent was with two Massachusetts State Police troopers and other law enforcement personnel at the time, Couvertier said.
"I heard a couple loud bangs, I saw a couple cop cars riding by," said Jared Morse, who lives in the area. "They wouldn't let anyone out to see anything or anything like that, so they made us go back inside."
A source told FOX 25 News in Boston that Todashev was being questioned by an FBI agent from Boston about an unsolved triple murder in Waltham, Mass. The source said Todashev became violent during the interview and was shot by the agent.
Khusen Taramov, a man at the scene of the Peregrine Avenue shooting who identified himself as a friend of Todashev's, said Wednesday that Todashev knew Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older brother suspected in the April 15 bombings that killed three and injured more than 260.
Taramov said he and Todashev had no connection with the Boston bombings, but the FBI had been questioning them since then. Taramov said Todashev had lived in Boston at one point, and Todashev and Tsarnaev were not friends, just acquaintances through mixed-martial-arts fighting.
"He used to talk on the phone with him [Tsarnaev]," Taramov said of Todashev. "They talked last time a month ago. After the bombing, I couldn't believe it," he said.
Public records indicate that Todashev lived in Watertown, Mass., until just last year. Taramov said ever since the bombings, he and Todashev had been questioned and followed by the FBI.
"The FBI kept asking, 'What's the connection?' But there is no connection... no connection."
Even before his encounter with the FBI, Todashev had a recent run-in with law enforcement.
He was arrested earlier this month on a charge of aggravated battery after getting into a fight over a parking spot with a 54-year-old man and his 35-year-old son at Orlando's Premium Outlets mall. The 35-year-old man was hospitalized with a split upper lip and several teeth knocked out, according to a report from the Orange County Sheriff's Office.
"Also by his own admission, Todashev was recently a former mixed martial arts fighter," the arresting deputy said in his report. "This skill puts his fighting ability way above that of a normal person."
Taramov said Todashev had planned to return to Chechnya but canceled his tickets.
"Me and him and my friends, we knew this was going to happen. That's why he wanted to leave the country," Taramov said. "But he canceled the tickets. The FBI's been pushing him, 'Don't leave, don't leave.' So he decided to stay," he said.
Taramov said the FBI had questioned him earlier Tuesday, but he was allowed to leave. When Taramov returned, he said he found out Todashev had been shot dead, he said.
The FBI agent involved was transported to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
The FBI has sent a team from Washington, D.C., to review the incident. The team should arrive in Orlando within 24 hours, it said.
"The FBI knows what happened," Taramov said.
Shooting victim in FBI probe a mixed martial arts fighter
Central Florida Mixed Martial Arts and boxing promoter James Bennett said he worked with Ibragim Todashev several times. He said he helped promote his fights, and first worked with him in 2010.
"He was a very quiet guy," said Bennett. "Kept to himself. He didn't really interact with anyone else."
Bennett said Todashev was a talented fighter. He added that Todashev held a 5-1 record in the amateur world, and 1 and 0 as a professional.
Bennett last spoke with Todashev at his fight in July 2012.
"I helped him get a fight in Tampa," said Bennett. "So that's the last I spoke to him then."
Bennett said every move Todashev made in the ring was calculated, and he trained at a gym in St. Cloud.
Bennett said he can't believe the FBI was questioning Todashev about the attack in Boston.
"I couldn't believe it," said Bennett. "He was such a quiet guy. I was just shocked really. I watched the bombings and everything so closely, so whenever I saw the name, I saw the photo, I was like, "Oh my God." I know this kid."
Bennett said Todashev ensured their relationship was strictly business and only spoke with him about fights and never mentioned his home life.
"He had another friend with him that he spoke with," said Bennett. "He didn't really speak with anyone."
Bennett said one thing about Todashev struck him as strange: he said Todashev never requested any music as he entered the ring for his fights. Bennett said Todashev always wanted silence, which allowed him to focus on the task at hand.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report, with contributions from FOX 35 reporters Melissa Mahadeo Kelly Joyce, Valerie Boey and Kimberly Wiggins.