The Boston Carjack Victim's Terrifying Account

by Alicia Lu

On Thursday, the trial of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev continued with testimonies on the murder of MIT police officer Seam Collier and the carjacking of a Boston man hours after the marathon bombing. After prosecutors presented disturbing autopsy photos of officer Collier, the carjack victim took to the witness stand. Dun Meng recounted being carjacked by the Tsarnaev brothers. In his harrowing testimony, Meng revealed to the jury how Tamerlan Tsarnaev admitted to orchestrating the marathon bombing and described to them "the most terrifying moment" of his life.

Meng, a Chinese national, is a traffic engineer and a partner at a company that designed a food delivery app. It was his professional expertise that prompted him to stop his car the night of the carjack. "I'm a traffic engineer," he told the courtroom, "and I know it is unsafe to text while I'm driving." He recounted that he had just pulled his Mercedes SUV over to the side of the road to answer a friend's text at around 11 p.m. when a sedan pulled up near his car and slammed its brakes. A man in dark clothing came out and tapped on his window. When Meng rolled his window down, the man brandished a gun and said, "Don't be stupid."

Handout/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Meng told the courtroom:

He asked me, "Do you know the Boston Marathon explosion?" He asked, "You know who did it? I did it and I just killed a policeman in Cambridge."

That man would later be identified as Tamerlan Tsarnaev. As Tamerlan got into the vehicle, Meng's roommate called his cell phone.

He said, "You have to answer the phone, but if you say a single word in Chinese, I will kill you right now."

After Meng obeyed, "He told me, 'Good job, boy, good job.'"

He ordered me to every direction. We had a conversation.... He asked me my name and he asked me where I'm from. First few minutes my hands were shaking and I was having trouble driving. I was very scared.

Holding a gun to Meng's head, Tamerlan allegedly ordered him to drive around, and was later joined by his brother Dzhokhar. Meng drove the brothers around the Boston suburbs while they strategized their next move. At one point, Meng says, the brothers asked if his car could be driven out of state to New York.

Mario Tama/Getty Images News/Getty Images

When Tamerlan asked for Meng's name, he allegedly said it was Manny.

I said I'm Chinese. He said, "OK, you are Chinese. I am Muslim and Muslims hate Americans." I responded, "I'm Chinese. Chinese are very friendly toward Muslims."

Understandably afraid for his life, Meng said he asked Tamerlan during their drive, "Are you going to kill me tonight?"

He told me, "I'm not going to kill you. Just relax, man."

When the brothers ordered him to stop at a Shell gas station on Memorial Drive in Cambridge, Meng said he knew "this may be my last chance." As Dzhokhar went into the convenience store, Meng counted to four, unbuckled his seatbelt, and bolted out of the SUV in what he describes as "the most terrifying moment, the most difficult decision in my life."

He described his escape from Tamerlan:

I could feel he was trying to grab me. His hand was so close to my left hand I could feel the wind.

In addition to Meng's testimony at Thursday's trial, the prosecutors presented video footage that shows part of the carjacking. In the security video, Dzhokhar is shown stopping at the Shell gas station and nonchalantly purchasing snacks. Outside the store, Meng can be seen escaping his Mercedes SUV and running away.

And another security video from the nearby Mobil, where Meng dashed to to hide, shows the victim running inside and pleading with the cashier to call the police. In the audio recording with the 911 dispatcher, Meng can be heard saying, "Please help me ... someone took my car ... they said they did the explosions, the marathon explosions."

When Cambridge police Officer Michael Nickerson arrived to the Mobil station, he testified, he found a trembling and terrified Meng. But had he not made the difficult decision to escape the SUV, which was later shot up in an exchange of gunfire between the brothers and police, he may not be alive today.

Images: Getty Images (2), CBS Boston