Boston Carjacking Victim: ‘I Was Just Trying to Save Myself’

Friday, 26 Apr 2013 09:30 AM

By Melanie Batley

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The 26-year-old Chinese man who was carjacked by Boston bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev says all he could think about during his 90-minute ordeal was how to stay alive until, finally, he saw a chance to make his escape.

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“Death is so close to me. I don’t want to die,” he said he remembered thinking during the entire time he was with the Tsarnaev brothers on the night of April 18. “I have a lot of dreams that haven’t come true yet.”

The Chinese man, known only as Danny, offered his account of the time he spent with two bombing suspects in an exclusive interview with The Boston Globe. His sudden escape from his own Mercedes SUV when the Tsarnaevs stopped for gas and his subsequent call to police are credited with helping corner the suspects in Watertown, a suburb of Boston.

In the interview, Danny said the episode began when a man in dark clothes, later identified as older brother Tamerlan, knocked on the window of his new Mercedes while he was sitting on the side of the road sending a text message.

He said Tsarnaev flashed a silver handgun, got in, and then ordered him to drive. “Don't be stupid,” Danny recalled Tsarnaev saying.

After asking whether Danny had been watching the news about the Boston Marathon bombings, Tsarnaev said, “I did that,” and also admitted that he had just killed a policeman in Cambridge, later identified as officer Sean Collier.

At first, Danny said, the younger brother Dzhokhar followed in another car. But he later got in the Mercedes as well after transferring some things into the SUV. It was then that Tamerlan took over the driver’s seat.

Danny told the Globe he followed every instruction given by his captors and even engaged in light conversation about girls, credit limits for students, the Mercedes-Benz ML 350, the iPhone 5, and whether anyone still listens to CDs.

He said the brothers also openly discussed driving to New York, a plan that authorities have since suggested could have resulted in another attack, perhaps in Times Square.

At one point he said he played up his own foreign status, saying, “Chinese are very friendly to Muslims! We are so friendly to Muslims.”

When Danny received a text from his roommate asking where he was, Tamerlan took the phone, demanded how to use an English-to-Chinese app, and replied to the text, “I am sick. I am sleeping in a friend’s place tonight.”

The phone then rang. Before picking it up, Danny recalled, Tamerlan told him: “If you say a single word in Chinese, I will kill you right now.” Danny said he repeated the words in English to his roommate: “I’m sleeping in my friend’s home tonight. I have to go.”

Danny said he saw his chance to escape at a Shell gas station when the brothers were forced to stop for gas and Dzhokhar went inside to pay.

“I was thinking I must do two things: unfasten my seat belt and open the door and jump out as quick as I can,” Danny recalled in the interview. “If I didn’t make it, he would kill me right out, he would kill me right away. I just did it. I did it very fast, using my left hand and right hand simultaneously to open the door, unfasten my seat belt, jump out ... and go.”

He said he then dashed to a Mobil station across the street and shouted for the clerk to call 911.

“I didn’t know if it was open or not,” he told the Globe. “In that moment, I prayed.”

The brothers sped away. Danny talked to the 911 dispatcher and police arrived on the scene moments later. A short time after that a shootout between police and the brothers broke out.
Tamerlan was killed and Dzhokhar was captured the following day, found hiding in a boat in a Watertown backyard.

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Danny, who spoke to the Globe on condition the paper not reveal his Chinese name, said he does not want attention or praise.

“I don’t want to be a famous person talking on TV,” he said. “I don’t feel like a hero. ... I was trying to save myself.”


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