Days after allegedly causing death and devastation at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, two brothers "spontaneously" decided to head to a new place to unleash terror -- New York City -- that city's mayor said.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect in the Boston bombings, told investigators that he and his brother decided to bomb Times Square as they talked the night of April 18 in a Mercedes SUV they'd just carjacked, New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
The 19-year-old initially told investigators from a Boston hospital bed that he and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, had talked about going to New York to "party." Then he offered a new account during a second round of questioning Sunday evening into Monday, during which Kelly said Dzhokhar was "a lot more lucid" than the first time he was interviewed.
The brothers had five pipe bombs and a "pressure-cooker bomb" -- the latter similar to the bombs used in the Boston blasts -- with them in the SUV that they could have used in New York, Kelly said.
Instead, their plan "fell apart" when the SUV ran low on fuel in the Boston area and the Tsarnaevs ordered the driver to pull into a gas station, Kelly said. The driver escaped during the refueling, he said, and police subsequently caught up with the Tsarnaevs -- first in a shootout after which 26-year-old Tamerlan died, then by capturing Dzhokhar on Friday.
"We don't know that we would have been able to stop the terrorists had they arrived here from Boston," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. "We're just thankful that we didn't have to find out that answer."
Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said investigators believe the Boston bombing suspects were planning another attack "likely in the Boston area."
"The notion they decided to go to New York was a rushed event after this thing unraveled on them," the Michigan Republican said.
There is no evidence that New York City is currently a target of a terror attack stemming from the Boston bombings, Kelly added. Still, he said authorities are investigating two visits that the surviving suspect made to New York City last year.
In one of those trips, in April 2012, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is photographed in Times Square.
One person pictured in that picture was in federal custody Thursday, as he's been for the last six days, on alleged visa violations. This man, whom a federal law enforcement source said Dzhokhar shared a cell phone with, was originally detained last Friday with another person when federal agents swarmed a residence thinking Dzhokhar might be inside, a federal law enforcement source said.
Neither of these two detained men -- both foreign exchange students from Kazakhstan at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, where Dzhokhar also was enrolled -- has been linked to the Boston Marathon attack. Yet investigators hope they can better piece together the suspected bombers' movements before and after the marathon.
"These guys are not being cut loose immediately, and there's a reason why," the federal law enforcement source said.
Sources: Russia raised concerns about mother, son
While investigators continue to look into the Boston bombings, the killing of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus police officer and a violent chase and shootout in Watertown, Massachusetts -- all of which authorities have blamed on the Tsarnaev brothers -- the probe has also been focused some 5,500 miles away in the semi-autonomous Russian republic of Dagestan.
That's where the suspects' parents live and spoke to reporters Thursday.
Their mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaev, told CNN's Nick Paton Walsh that she didn't want to accept the reality of the bombing, saying it was fake. She has seen a video pushing the wild idea, she said, adding that there was no blood -- and that paint was used instead.
"That's what I want to know, because everybody's talking about it -- that this is a show, that's what I want to know. That's what I want to understand," she said.
But her disbelief broke down when she spoke of the victims.
"I really feel sorry for all of them. Really feel sorry for all of them," she said, her voice cracking even as she remained resolute that her sons were not involved.
While her husband Anzor Tsarnaev has said he plans to fly to the United States -- though those plans may be in limbo after Zubeidat said she called for an ambulance for him on Thursday in Makhachkala -- his wife isn't planning to join him.
She's wanted on 2012 felony charges of shoplifting and property damage in Massachusetts, according to court officials.
The family lived there before she jumped bail; the parents moved the same year to Dagestan.
A year before, Zubeidat and her son Tamerlan were both added by U.S. authorities to the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, or TIDE, database -- a collection of more than a half million names maintained by the National Counterterrorism Center, an intelligence official said.
That came as Russia raised concerns to U.S. authorities about her and her son, sources told CNN.