(BOSTON) — Police officers who engaged brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in a gunfight delivered heart-pounding accounts of the encounter in court testimony Monday at the Boston Marathon bombing trial.
The shootout with police in Watertown, Massachusetts, ended with Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s death and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s brief escape into a boat stored in someone’s backyard.
“For eight minutes,” Watertown Police Officer Joseph Reynolds testified, “it felt like there were hundreds of rounds” being fired at him by Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Gunshots were only the beginning. Reynolds said he saw a lighter being lit and a wick burning. Moments later, two pipe bombs exploded nearby and then Reynolds said he saw “a larger type bomb…like a big cooking pot…coming through the air.” The blast from it shook him and he dropped to his knees, Reynolds said, with his ears ringing and engulfed by a cloud of smoke and a shower of debris.
During the shootout, “Tamerlan started running towards me,” Reynolds recalled, noting that another officer tackled him from behind and two more joined to try and subdue him.
“He was wrestling with us and we were trying to gain control of him so we could put handcuffs on him,” Reynolds said. “He’s a big kid. He was wrestling with us, we weren’t able to control him.”
Reynolds said he heard an engine revving, so he screamed, “Get off! Get off! He’s coming back toward us,” as the SUV the brothers had carjacked sped up.
He fired and hit the windshield, Reynolds said, but the car didn’t stop, and everyone scattered.
An officer reportedly tried to pull Tamerlan Tsarnaev out of the way, but couldn’t. “Tamerlan was run over by the Mercedes,” Reynolds said.
Jurors were also brought to an offsite location near the courthouse to view the dry-docked boat where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hid and was caught hours later.
Tsarnaev sat under a white canopy under heavy guard as jurors viewed the boat, which still had bullet holes, blood streaks and faded writing from Tsarnaev’s note, according to reporters who accompanied the jurors.
Part of Tsarnaev’s note had been written in pencil, while the bottom part was physically carved into wooden slats. The slats have since been removed and are expected to be brought into court as evidence.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to the 30 counts against him, including charges of using a “weapon of mass destruction resulting in death.” Tsarnaev’s attorney said at the beginning of the trial that Tsarnaev had participated in the bombing.
The trial comes just under two years after twin explosions ripped through the crowd near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in April 2013, killing three people — including an 8-year-old boy — and injuring some 260 others. More than a dozen of those injured lost limbs, authorities have noted.
Prosecutors say Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his older brother were responsible for the death and destruction, and that the two were photographed dropping backpacks holding the bombs before the blasts. The city of Boston was paralyzed for days during an intense manhunt, during which the pair allegedly gunned down and killed an MIT police officer.
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