By AARON KATERSKY and MICHELE McPHEE
The people of Quincy, Mass. were not imagining things when they reported seeing small aircraft circling above Common Street in the weeks after twin pressure cooker bombs detonated near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in 2013.
The two single engine "Cessna-type" planes that residents spotted flying for more than a month were being used in connection with the surveillance of Khairullozhon Matanov, law enforcement sources told ABC News, confirming a report that first appeared in the Patriot Ledger.
Matanov, 23, was charged last week with obstructing the investigation into the marathon bombing. The FBI had been interested in him since April 19, 2013, four days after the blasts killed three and injured more than 260, when Matanov, a cab driver, went to local police to say he knew Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the alleged bombers. Federal prosecutors said Matanov failed to reveal all he knew about the brothers and later deleted computer files that might link them to him.
Quincy Ward 4 Councilman Brian Palmucci said he and his wife had brought home their first child around the time of the marathon attack and "were up at all hours 24 hours a day so we were very well aware of when these planes were flying." He described two different single engine "Cessna-type" planes doing figure eights every eight minutes around west Quincy for more than a month.
"My phone was ringing off the hook. People were concerned. It started a couple of weeks after the bombing and lasted for over a month," Palmucci said.
Local police said Quincy residents wrote down the tail number of the low-flying plane, which prompted police to reach out to Federal Aviation Authority officials.
The councilman said he was told by the FAA, "It's not a drone, we're aware of the flight and it's authorized." The FAA confirmed their previous comment to Palmucci, which was reported by the Patriot Ledger, to ABC News but declined to comment further, directing additional questions to "law enforcement."
Palmucci believes the community should have been told more to calm people who were already on edge because of the bombings.
"There was no doubt they were looking at our neighborhood so folks were very uneasy and they started to question whether there was some imminent public danger," he said.
Palmucci said one of his constituents traced the tail number to a small airfield in Virginia that has links to the FBI. The FBI declined to comment for this report.
Michele McPhee is a freelance journalist based in Boston and a frequent ABC News contributor.