BOSTON - Three police officers on Monday described an onslaught of gunfire and bombs thrown during a violent confrontation with the Boston Marathon bombers days after the deadly attack and one suspect's furious escape in a stolen car that ended with him dragging his brother's body through the street.
The testimony by Watertown officers came hours after jurors in the federal death-penalty trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev went to see the bullet-riddled boat he was found hiding in the evening of April 19, 2013.
Earlier that day, shortly after midnight, one officer spotted a carjacked Mercedes SUV on a quiet residential street. That set off a frenzied clash in which Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, hurled explosives at police, including two pipe bombs and one pressure-cooker bomb similar to those used near the marathon finish line that killed three people and injured more than 260, the officers testified.
Joseph Reynolds, the first officer at the scene, said he "locked eyes" with the SUV driver, who was later identified as Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Reynolds said Tamerlan got out of the car and began firing at him.
"All I could see was muzzle flashes," he said. "I couldn't count it. It was nonstop."
The shots continued as other officers began to arrive, Reynolds said.
He saw a wick and a lighter and then watched as an object flew through the air, landed in the street, and exploded, he said, shaking him to his knees.
"I could feel all the debris landing on top of me," he said.
Sgt. Jeffrey Pugliese said he cut through backyards to get closer to the bombers, and he eventually could see their feet illuminated by car headlights. He said he aimed at the ground near their feet in the hope that the bullets would ricochet into their ankles.
But Tamerlan saw him and came charging up the street, firing at him, said Pugliese, who fired back.
The two men came face to face, with only six to eight feet separating them, Pugliese said. But Tamerlan had a problem with his pistol, the officer said.
"He kind of looked at his gun. He looked at me. We looked at each other," Pugliese said. "I think out of frustration, he threw his gun at me."
Pugliese said Tamerlan began to run away, but he tackled him. Tamerlan struggled as three officers tried to handcuff him, even though he was wounded and bleeding, Pugliese said.
That's when they saw the stolen car speeding toward them with Dzhokhar behind the wheel, Pugliese said.
The officer stepped out of the witness box to demonstrate how he tried to pull Tamerlan out of the way and how he rolled over to get himself out of the car's path.
"The black SUV, it was right in my face," he said. "I looked down, and I saw the front wheels were over Tamerlan."