Months Before Marathon Bombing, Suspect Worked as Harvard Lifeguard

Nine Former Classmates and Coworkers Remember Suspected Terrorist’s High School Years

Several of Tsarnaev’s high school acquaintances said he often talked about the things that occupy the minds of many high school seniors, especially college. Paige C. Newell ’14, who lifeguarded with Tsarnaev, remembered chatting with him about his plans to pursue higher education.

After graduation, Tsarnaev enrolled at University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, though it is unclear how long he was there.


Other acquaintances said Tsarnaev was not only an apparently normal teenager, but also a personable and talented peer.

“He was pretty much a friend to everyone, because he was so down to earth and friendly,” said Conor R. Paterson ’16, one of Tsarnaev’s former classmates at Cambridge Rindge and Latin.


Classmates from high school remembered him as a shy but normal teenager who went by the nickname “Jahar” and excelled at athletics. All five former classmates interviewed by The Crimson said the person they went to school with was nothing like the “white hat suspect” that the FBI identified on a surveillance video walking away from the blast-zone at the marathon.

Paterson said he saw Tsarnaev as recently as November 2012, when the two acquaintances played pick-up basketball at a local park. Paterson said that although Tsarnaev had told him he had recently dropped out of University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, at the time, he appeared to be doing well. He was the “same old Jahar,” Paterson said.

Several other Harvard lifeguards told The Crimson that Tsarnaev had always been an easygoing and agreeable colleague.

“Honestly, he made a very good impression on me,” said Inanna L. Carter ’14, who worked with Tsarnaev last summer when she began lifeguarding at the MAC.

Carter described him as an entertaining and engaging coworker, who “showed her the ropes” and played jokes on pool patrons “just to keep his job interesting.” She added that she enjoyed lifeguarding with Tsarnaev so much that she asked to continue working with him in the future.

“He definitely made an impression,” she said. “That impression was: very mature and very intelligent for his age.”

Another fellow lifeguard, Agustin Castile, recalled the young man’s intelligence and his “contemplative” bent.

“He had a good vocabulary, and he was inquisitive,” said Castile, a sophomore at Clarke College who graduated from Cambridge Rindge and Latin a year before Tsarnaev, and worked alongside him at the MAC pool.

And though he had aspirations for higher education, Tsarnaev was hardly a nerd or a lonely academic, according to Castile.

“He was an athletic kid, handsome, he didn’t have any trouble fitting into social groups,” he said.


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