Boston Marathon Bombing Trial: Cop Said Shootout Felt Like 'Hundreds of Rounds'

PHOTO: In this courtroom sketch, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, center seated, is depicted between defense attorneys while the boat in which he was captured in sits on a trailer for observation during his federal death penalty trial, March 16, 2015, in Boston.PlayJane Flavell Collins/AP
WATCH Boston Marathon Bombing Trial: The Manhunt in Watertown for Tsarnaev Brothers

Police officers who engaged brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in a gunfight delivered heart-pounding accounts of the encounter in testimony today 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.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev threw pipe bombs like a baseball, Sergeant John Maclellan testified, while Dzhokhar Tsarnaev tossed them like a hook shot over his head. 

When a large device fashioned from a pressure cooker detonated, Maclellan told the jury, the blast disoriented him so badly he re-holstered his weapon in the middle of the shootout to pull himself together. 

"My eyes were shaking violently in my head. I couldn't see straight," Maclellan said. "I was still being shot at and I was behind a plastic fence and I thought I was going to get killed. Tactically it was a pretty bad decision to re-holster during the gunfight but I couldn't see."

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."

Tamerlan Tsarnaev then "had a problem with his pistol," Watertown police Sgt. Jeffrey Pugliese testified. 

"He looked at the gun, looked at me," Pugliese said, and then "threw the gun at me."

Tamerlan Tsarnaev tried to run, but Pugliese tackled him. Pugliese said he then heard an officer shout "Sarge, sarge look out!" and he said he saw Dzhokhar Tsarnaev speeding towards them in the SUV that the brothers had allegedly carjacked.

"I saw that the vehicle was on the wrong side of the road heading directly at me and Tamerlan," Pugliese said. "I reached down and grabbed Tamerlan by the belt to try and drag him out of the street to avoid getting struck."

The car didn't stop and everyone scattered, Reynolds said, adding: "Tamerlan was run over by the Mercedes."

After Tamerlan Tsarnaev was struck, he was dragged 25 feet until his brother hit a police cruiser and sped off, dislodging him, Pugliese said.

James Floyd, a Watertown resident, also testified, saying he saw "guns firing and people screaming." 

Floyd said he saw someone hurl a "book bag" before a big explosion, blinding light and smoke. 

He also said he saw the SUV speed towards the crowd of police officers.

"It went very fast," Floyd said, noting that he heard "a thud" and then "lots and lots of gunfire."

When Massachusetts State Police Major Frank Hughes took the stand, the jury relived how Boston and surrounding communities effectively shut down during the hunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Mass transit stopped, state troopers patrolled the airport and roadblocks went up. 

Not long after the restrictions lifted, a man called 911 to report someone was in his dry-docked boat. Hughes pointed at Tsarnaev when asked if he saw the individual taken from the boat in court today.

Under cross-examination, the defense showed a photo of Tsarnaev coming out of the boat with his bloodied hands up, palms out, in apparent surrender.

Jurors were also brought to an offsite location near the courthouse to view the boat today.

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.

Dr. Heather Studley, who treated MBTA officer Dick Donohue after he was shot, testified today that Donohue was unresponsive and not breathing when he arrived at the hospital. Studley said she had to stanch his wound with her knee before he went into surgery.

Donohue survived and spent over one month in intensive care.

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.