Alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's former friend Stephen Silva testified on Tuesday about a gun he'd loaned to Tsarnaev that ultimately served as a pivotal piece in Tsarnaev and his brother's violent escape plan. The complicated friendship between Tsarnaev and Silva was on full display in court as Silva recounted loaning his P95 Ruger handgun to Tsarnaev back in 2013, maintaining that he'd wanted the gun back for some time but that "[Tsarnaev] just kept coming up with excuses." That very gun was said to be used to kill MIT police officer Sean A. Collier as Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, attempted to evade authorities days after the bombing.
All the while, Silva maintained that Tsarnaev was "one of the realest and coolest kids you ever met," a statement he made under a pseudonym in a Rolling Stone feature about Tsarnaev. Long before the bombings that injured hundreds and ultimately claimed the lives of three people, Silva and Tsarnaev were good friends. They worked at the Harvard pool as lifeguards, attended school together, and had known each other since middle school. Although both admit to dealing drugs, it's Silva who's faced with drug charges in addition to providing a gun to Tsarnaev.
Silva has had multiple drug arrests and allegedly sold up to $2,000 of marijuana a week, much of which was bought by Tsarnaev, who Silva says also boasted high drug sale numbers. The illicit behavior was par for the course between Silva and Tsarnaev, almost as a means to continue strengthening their friendship, according to Silva.
When recounting using the aforementioned Ruger to rob potential drug-buying clients, Silva says Tsarnaev laughed at the incident, according to USA Today. The gun made an appearance at a 2012 New Years Eve party and was shown to Tsarnaev and others before that. Simply put, Silva admitted to wanting to brandish it as some type of status symbol. "I wanted to show it off," Silva testified.
The last time Silva saw Tsarnaev as a free man was just a few days before the bombings. Along with another friend, they met in front of Silva's apartment complex for an alleged drug deal, an activity that had become all too routine as part of their friendship, Silva says.
Silva's testimony is part of a plea deal to obtain a reduced sentence in the face of charges related to the handgun he loaned Tsarnaev as well as charges of conspiracy to distribute heroin. Silva is hoping for less than five years, though he faces a maximum of 40. Although Silva, his twin brother (whose name is, oddly, Steven), and Tsarnaev were an incredibly close trio, Tsarnaev was uncomfortable with the idea of Silva meeting his brother, Tamerlan. Tsarnaev was worried that Tamerlan wouldn't like his friend because Silva isn't Muslim. Said Silva, "He said his brother was very strict, very opinionated."