Count Elechi Kadete among the many locals stunned that the brothers Tsarnaev turned out to be suspected terrorists. The 23-year-old Cambridge resident attended the same high school as Tamerlan Tsarnaev, though they were not in the same class. Kadete would sometimes see Tsarnaev praying outside the school. But mostly, Kadate knew Tsarnaev from the local YMCA, where they both worked out.
“He was a really nice person,” Kadete tells Daily Intelligencer. “He was very strong physically, and he was physically intimidating, but he was very gentle. He seemed like the type of person who wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
At the same time, Kadete says the language barrier may have bothered Tsarnaev.
“He seemed very distant and I always assumed it was because he didn’t know the English language very well,” Kadete said. Their conversations never got very far because of Tsarnaev’s shaky grasp on the language.
Tsarnaev once told a photographer that he had “no American friends.” Kadete says Tsarnaev “seemed like the type of person that could make friends easily, but it seemed like he didn’t want to.”