In a frantic phone call to 911, a Boston man shouted that he had just been hijacked by two men and that “they did the marathon explosions!”
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The call was made just past midnight April 19, four days after two bombs ripped through the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring 260 others.
The Boston man, Dun Meng, recounted his harrowing experience that followed when he took the stand today in the trial of alleged bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Meng testified that he had pulled over on the side of a road in Brighton, Mass. to send a friend a text message when someone knocked on his passenger-side window and motioned for him to roll down the window. When he did, the hand reached through the window, opened the door and the man, later identified as Dzhokhar’s older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, climbed in with a gun.
“He point a gun at me,” Meng told the court, “at my head.”
After Meng gave Tamerlan around $45, Tamerlan demanded he drive. At some point Tamerlan pulled the magazine out of the gun and shows Meng a lone bullet inside saying, “I’m serious. Don’t be stupid.”
Meng still thought he could be the victim of a simple robbery until Tamerlan asked him the next question: “Do you know the Boston Marathon explosion?”
Meng said he answered, nervously, “Yes, I do.”
“Do you know who did it?” Tamerlan said. Meng told the court he said, “No I don’t.” Tamerlan then blurted, “I did it.”
Later Dzhokhar, who had been in another vehicle, joined them in the car and Tamerlan switched seats with Meng.
The three stopped at a bank where Dzhokhar got Meng’s bank PIN number and stole $800 from his account, Meng said.
Later there was a tense moment, Meng remembered, when his roommate called his cell phone and then texted him in Mandarin. Tamerlan demanded a translation. Meng gave it to him. “Where are you? It’s dangerous outside,” she had written.
Tamerlan asked him how to say “No” in Manderin and Meng told him. Tamerlan was suspicious and asked Meng for an English-to-Mandarin dictionary, which was an app on his phone. Meng gave it to him and Tamerlan responded to the roommate’s text.
That prompted a phone call from another roommate, boyfriend of the first. Tamerlan pulled out the gun again and for a second time points it at Meng’s head telling him, “You have to answer the phone right now. If you say any single word in Chinese I will kill you right now.” Tamerlan instructs him to tell the caller that he is staying out because he is not feeling well.
Meng testified, “I pick up the phone answer in English, ‘How you doing?’ Which is very weird because my roommates are Chinese too… I say, ‘I feel sick. I am going to stay at friend’s house.'"
“What?” Meng’s roommate answered in Chinese. “Why are you speaking English?”
Meng says, in English again, “I’m staying at a friend’s house. I have to go right now,” and hangs up.
Tamerlan, Meng testified, looked “more relaxed,” and tells Meng, “Good job, boy. Good job.”
Just past midnight on April 19, Meng made his escape when they stopped at a Shell gas station and ran across the street to a Mobil station. Dramatic video from the Mobil gas station’s cameras show a terrifying Meng running in and asking the clerk to call 911.
Once the dispatcher is reached, Meng gets on the phone, hysterical, and explains that he’d be carjacked and said, “They did the marathon explosions!”
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 counts related to the bombings, but his defense admitted in opening statement’s he’s not contesting that he took part in the deadly attack. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a police shootout hours after Meng escaped.