Nearly two years after the suspected Boston Marathon bombers interrupted a quiet April night in Watertown with gunfire and homemade bombs, the events of April 18 2013 and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s role in them were examined in Federal Court in Boston.
On Thursday, jurors in the trial of Tsarnaev saw testimony about the killing of MIT Police Officer Sean Collier by the Dzhokhar and his older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev while Collier sat in his police cruiser in Cambridge.
Then the jurors heard from Dun Meng, the owner of the now infamous black Mercedes SUV that was carjacked Tamerlan. He rode in the vehicle for 20-30 minutes, eventually pulling over on a street in Watertown where another car pulled up behind him and loaded something in his SUV. Meng said the other man was Dzhokhar. He escaped when Tamerlan pulled over to get some gas and Dzhokhar got some gas.
Monday, testimony included three Watertown Police Officer – Officer Joseph Reynolds who first encountered the SUV, Sgt. Scott MacLellan who arrived when the shooting began, and Sgt. Jeffrey Pugliese who sped to the scene after hearing about it on the radio. Also two residents of the area testified – James Floyd and Andy Kitzenberg
From their testimony, this is the timeline of the chaos of the shootout – which took about 8 to 9 minutes. The details and quotes come from Twitter messages from reporters in the courtroom in Boston.
The Watertown Police learned about the shooting of the MIT officer and the carjacking at roll call. Pugliese had been at an in-service training class in Lowell that day, and took the 3:30 p.m. to midnight shift.
Pugliese was just about to leave work when a lieutenant told him that he could not find Pugliese’s report. It took him about 45 minutes to retrieve it. Then he drove his cruiser over to his minivan and moved his gear into his own vehicle.
Shoot Out Begins
After 11 p.m. the Mercedes SUV, which is being tracked by an anti-theft device, pings on Dexter Avenue in Watertown. Reynolds was only about 100 yards away, so he responds. He and the driver of the SUV “we locked eyes with each other,” according to WBZ’s Jim Armstrong.
Pugliese was about a mile and a half away, but decided to head over to be an “extra set of eyes,” according to Armstrong.
MacLellan tells Reynolds over the radio that he believes the carjackers are armed, so he tells him to wait for back up. As he arrives in the area, MacLellan sees the SUV speeds up and turned onto Laurel Street. He tells Reynolds to turn on his cruiser’s lights and pull the vehicle over.
When he follows, Reynolds said he saw Tamerlan get out of his car (about 5 to 10 yards away), start walking toward him and began firing a pistol at him.
“My only defense was my cruiser,” Reynolds said, according to WBUR. Fox 25’s Catherine Parrotta quoted Reynolds as saying, “I ducked down behind my dashboard, put cruiser in reverse and backed up.”
Sgt. MacLellan saw flashes from gun muzzles as the brothers fire at Reynolds exchanged fire.
“I took a round through the windshield (and was) sprayed with glass,” MacLellan said, according to Kevin Cullen of the Boston Globe.
MacLellan got out of his car and used his door as cover. Then he decided to put his vehicle in drive and let it roll by itself to “buy myself some time,” according to WBZ’s Armstrong.
Then, MacLellan got out of his vehicle and ran behind a small tree for cover.
Andy Kitzenberg took several photos from his Laurel Street home after the shootout began. He saw the Tsarnaevs take a bag out of the SUV.
“They dropped the bag at their feet, going in and out of the bag grabbing objects,” according to the Globe’s Cullen.
Reynolds then saw a lighter lighting a wick, and one of the brothers threw what turned out to be a pipe bomb, which exploded in the middle of Laurel Street.
MacLellan saw one explode on the other side of his cruiser. At first he said he thought they were throwing M-80s because the first explosion “really wasn’t that impressive,” according to WBZ’s Armstrong.
The two brothers had different throwing styles, MacLellan said.
“One was throwing like a baseball. And the other one was throwing like a hook shot,” according to WHDH’sDan Hausle.
Laurel Street resident James Floyd watched form out of his house and saw the Tsarnaev brothers get what looked like a backpack and threw it at the officers and it exploded.
“It was a blinding light, we ducked down, a couple pictures came off our wall, we looked down, it was very smokey,” Floyd said, according to NESN’s Palumbo.
Kitzenberg watched the first couple bombs being thrown, then they grabbed another.
“I could see the 3rd one get lit, so I got down on the floor and I could feel bedroom shake, saw huge cloud of smoke,” Kitzenberg said.
Reynolds saw it too.
“I said, ‘run, sarge, run run run!!!” Reynolds said, according to Jim Armstrong of WBZ. “It shook me to my knees, my ears were ringing.”
The bomb shook the area, setting off car alarms and sending debris and pebbles raining down.
“It was incredible, It was horrendous. Very loud,” MacLellan said, who added he had to reholster his gun, according to WHDH’s Hausle. He also remembers people screaming.
More Help Arrives
Meanwhile Sgt. Pugliese arrived shortly after the bombs. He heard Reynolds and MacLellan on the scanner and drove “70-80 miles per hour” toward the scene in his family minivan. He parked around the corner on Dexter Avenue and put his bullet-proof vest on. He decided to run through backyards of homes on Laurel Street to “flank” the brothers.
He saw a “white guy in a white T-shirt” fleeing through a back yard, but did not know if he was a suspect or a resident, according to Armstrong. Pugliese did not think he was a threat, and he ended up being a “panicked resident,” according to the Globe’s Cullen.
As he continues toward the suspects Pugliese hears a large bang and debris falls on him.
Pugliese drew his weapon and began firing at Tamerlan.
“I fired three or four shots. I thought I was hitting him. But I didn’t know. I wasn’t rushing my shots. I was hitting my target,” according to the Globe’s Cullen.
Then he tried shooting some “skip shots” by bouncing bullets under their SUV and hit them in the ankles. Tamerlan spotted Pugliese and began heading toward him and firing. Pugliese returned fire.
Tamerlan’s gun jammed, so he threw it at Pugliese, hitting him in the bicep, according to WBZ’s Armstrong.
Tamerlan started to run away, but Pugliese chased him down and tackled him.
Tamerlan Arrested and Run Over
MacLellan and Reynolds came over to help arrest Tamerlan. The officers put the hand cuffs on Tamerlan, even as he continued to struggle. They wanted to make sure that he did not turn over.
“I didn’t want him to roll over in case he had something on him,” Pugliese said, according to WBZ’s Armstrong.
Dzhokhar had fled to the Mercedes, but instead of leaving the way the SUV was pointing he did a three-point turn and sped toward the officers and Tamerlan.
Floyd said he saw the car speeding up down Laurel.
“He was headed straight toward where everybody else was standing … my wife made a shriek. We heard a thud,” said the Globe’s Cullen. Floyd also said the same man who threw the big bomb got into the SUV, Cullen Tweeted.
Reynolds testified, “I said get off, get off. He’s come back towards us,” as the Mercedes drove toward them, according to Fox 25’s Parrotta.
MacLellan and Reynolds dove out of the way to avoid being hit by the SUV. MacLellan estimated the Mercedes was going 35-40 mph. Pugliese grabbed Tamerlan by the belt and tried to pull him out of the way. The SUV just missed Pugliese
“It was right in my face … and I kind of rolled on my back … and I could feel the vehicle go right by my face,” he said according to WHDH’s Hausle.
The SUV struck Tamerlan, and MacLellan said he saw the “vehicle bouncing back and forth … the body got stuck up under the wheels,” according to the Globe’s Cullen.
After the SUV sped away, MacLellan said, “There was a lot of commotion, people screaming, car alarms going off, someone said Sarge one of ours is down,” according to NECN’s Alysha Palumbo.
He and Reynolds ran over to the officer who had been shot – Dic Donohue of the MBTA Transit Police who was down in front of the home at 144 Dexter Avenue. Watertown Police Officer Tim Menton had arrived on the scene and was tending to Donohue, MacLellan recalled.
Reynolds said, “It appeared that he was dying,” and he kept telling him, “You’re gonna be fine, you’re gonna be fine,” according to WBUR.
Under cross examination from the Tsarnaev’s defense team, Reynolds said he was not sure whose bullet hit Donohue, because both were firing, according to Hausle of WHDH. Reynolds also said he is not sure if Dzhokhar was armed.
Donohue was rushed to Mt. Auburn Hospital where emergency room doctors worked on him. He was essentially dead for 30 minutes, said Dr. Heather Studley. He was saved, but spent about a month in intensive care before moving to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.
State Police Major Frank Hughes was the Director of Investigative Services. he had been called in to investigate the killing of the MIT officer and later the carjacking. Then he heard about the shots fired in Watertown. The area around Laurel and Dexter were closed off for fear of explosive devices in the area.
They found the SUV abandoned at the intersection of Lincoln and Spruce streets.
An hour before sunrise teams of law enforcement start searching door-to-door. At 6 a.m. Governor Deval Patrick orders the shelter in place for Watertown and surrounding towns. This lasts until 6 p.m., when people are allowed to leave their homes.
Soon afterward, police received a call from a Franklin Street resident saying someone is in his boat in his backyard. The caller was Dave Henneberry.
Before Hughes could get to the boat, officers had fires more than 100 rounds into the boat (jurors visited the boat that had been taken to an undisclosed location in South Boston). They fired flash-bang grenades at the boat to disorient Dzhokhar Hughes said, because police were not sure whether he was armed.
About an hour-and-a-half later he was arrested.
Tuesday, Henneberry is scheduled to be the first witness to testify.