Long before Brian Williams was caught lying about his chopper coming under fire in Iraq, he claimed he’d stared down the barrel of a bandit’s gun as a teenager in sleepy Red Bank, NJ.
In a 2005 interview with Esquire magazine, Williams said a thief drew on him in the 1970s — leaving him “looking up at a thug’s snub-nosed .38 while selling Christmas trees out of the back of a truck.”
He told the tough-to-believe story at least four times, claiming he was trying to help a local church when the thief snatched his money on West Front Street and Riverside Avenue.
“That wasn’t a bad job, until a guy came up and stuck a .38-caliber pistol in my face and made me hand over all the money. Merry Christmas, right? Of course, I suddenly appreciated the other jobs I thought I hated,” he told New Jersey Monthly in 2008.
But longtime Red Bank residents think it’s a tall tale.
“I would highly doubt he’s telling the truth,” said Danny Murphy, who in the ’70s ran Danny’s restaurant , which was a few blocks from the alleged crime scene. “I find it hard to believe anyone was held up in this area in the ’70s. It was very safe.”
Other residents also scoff at the story.
“It was never dangerous here,” said Yolanda DeMaria, 93. “It was a very peaceful town, a lovely town. It was a small town with a dress shop and a five-and-dime. No one locked their cars.”