Say versus said

Which is correct and why?

Tom says /said that the lights came on and the music started to play.

Tom says /said other people came running up to see him.


In both sentences, either ‘says’ or ‘said’ can be correct, but with different meanings.

Of course ‘said’ is the past tense of say(s) and ‘said’ is usually used to indicate that someone said something once.

In these sentences ‘says’ means “claims” or “contends”. Maybe Tom often says the same thing because someone else says something different and Tom wants to repeat what he believes to be the truth.