BOSTON - Details emerged Wednesday on another friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev who may have been linked to events surrounding the deadly attack, this one a former classmate tied to a gun used to kill a university policeman during a manhunt for Tsarnaev and his brother.
Stephen Silva, who enrolled at the same university as Tsarnaev, was arrested Monday on federal charges of heroin trafficking and possession of a handgun with an obliterated serial number. The gun was used to kill Massachusetts Institute of Technology police Officer Sean Collier while the Tsarnaevs were being sought, according to two people with knowledge of the case who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the investigation.
Silva told police he smoked marijuana every day because "my best friend was the bomber," according to court documents in a state case from last year.
Silva was a close friend of Tsarnaev, who's accused with his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, of setting off bombs at the April 2013 marathon, killing three people and injuring more than 260 others, and then ambushing Collier days later and shooting him multiple times in his car.
Silva is one of five men connected to the Tsarnaevs who have been charged in the bombing investigation.
Silva was arrested on marijuana charges at a train station in November. After transit police found two bags of marijuana and a wad of $555 in cash in his pockets, he repeatedly told them, "I smoke a lot of weed every day because my best friend was the bomber," court documents say.
George Hinson, who attended school with Silva and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, said Silva's arrest came as a shock.
"He would not have given (Tsarnaev) the gun or hidden it if he knew he was a terrorist," Hinson said. "Tsarnaev probably gave him a different story. He probably just wanted to make sure his friend was protected."
Attorney Jonathan Shapiro, who represents Silva in the federal case, said Wednesday he couldn't elaborate on his statement Tuesday that he was still reviewing the case.
"According to news reports, law enforcement officials say it is the same weapon that was used ... in the MIT officer Sean Collier shooting," Shapiro said Tuesday, after Silva made his initial court appearance. "However, this has not been charged in the indictment."
According to the federal indictment, Silva received the gun in or around February 2013. It said the gun "had the importer's and manufacturer's serial number removed, obliterated, and altered and had previously been shipped and transported in interstate and foreign commerce."
Police have said Tamerlan Tsarnaev fired the gun at them and then threw it at them when it ran out of bullets. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in the shootout.
Silva was ordered to remain in custody, and a bail hearing was scheduled for Aug. 6.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for trial in November. He faces the possibility of the death penalty if convicted.
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