Tamerlan Tsarnaev (Courtesy: FBI)
Ruslan Tsarni, uncle of the suspected Boston Marathon bombing suspects, speaks to reporters in front of his home April 19, 2013 in Montgomery Village, Maryland. Tsarni asked the still at large bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to turn himself in. (Photo by Allison Shelley/Getty Images)
Natalie DiBlasio, USA TODAY
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the 26-year-old identified by police as the dead Boston bombing suspect, called his uncle Thursday night and asked for forgiveness, the uncle said.
Alvi Tsarnaev told The Journal News that his nephew phoned him Thursday night for the first time in about two years.
The call came at 7 p.m., just a couple of hours before Tamerlan was shot dead.
"He said, 'I love you and forgive me,'" said Tsarnaev, who lives in Montgomery Village, Md.
"We were not talking for a long time because there were some problems," he said, without elaborating. "We were not happy with each other."
They spoke for about five minutes, he said. Tamerlan, who is Muslim, started out by saying, "Salam Aleikum," an Arabic greeting meaning "peace on you." He then praised his uncle for keeping up with his Muslim prayers.
They talked about family. He said Tamerlan has relatives in the United States and his father is in Russia.
"I told him I was praying to Allah, not drinking, not smoking, and he told me he was happy," he said. "He was asking, 'Did you pay your mortgage?' I told him I was trying to pay. I asked him what he was doing. He said, 'I fix cars, I got married, got a baby.'"
Police have identified Tamerlan Tsarnaev as the dead Boston bombing suspect. He was killed in a dramatic firefight with police in nearby Watertown, Mass.
A manhunt is underway for Tamerlan's brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19.
The brothers had been living together on Norfolk Street in Cambridge. Another uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, also of Montgomery Village, Md., told the Associated Press that the men lived together near Boston and have been in the United States for about a decade. They came from the Russian region near Chechnya, which has been plagued by an Islamic insurgency stemming from separatist wars.
Tamerlan studied engineering at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston. He was a competitive boxer for a club named Team Lowell and took a semester off from school to train for the National Golden Gloves competition in Salt Lake City, according to a photo essay titled "Will Box for Passport."
In 2010, Tamerlan beat Southern New England's Brian Daniels in the heavyweight title bout. Tsarnaev also received the prestigious Rocky Marciano Trophy given to the New England heavyweight champ, the Lowell Sun reported.
In the photo essay, Tamerlan says: "I don't have a single American friend, I don't understand them."
According to the website spotcrime.com, Tamerlan was arrested for domestic violence in July 2009 after assaulting his girlfriend.
Alvi Tsarnaev only learned that his nephew was a suspect, shot dead, in the news Friday morning.
"Killing innocent people, I cannot forgive that," he said. "It's crazy. I don't believe it now even. How can I forgive this?"
Contributing: Shawn Cohen from The (Westchester County, N.Y.) Journal News