EEV: Article quote ” Danny’s refusal at giving his full Chinese name is telling of his humility, wary of attracting too much attention “
Chinese entrepreneur known only as Danny recalls night of terror that sparked 9,000-strong manhunt
The man taken hostage by the Boston bombing suspects last week has broken his silence on the harrowing 90 minutes he spent with the brothers in a carjacking that sparked a city-wide manhunt and his miraculous escape from those who were briefly America’s most wanted men.
The 26-year-old Chinese entrepreneur, giving only his American nickname ‘Danny’, described how the ordeal began when he pulled up to a curb just outside of Cambridge in his rented Mercedes to answer a phone call last Thursday night at around 11pm.
Speaking to The Boston Globe newspaper, Danny said that an old saloon screeched to a halt behind his car before a black-clad man appeared beside him and rapped on the window. As Danny opened the window to hear better, the man reached in and unlocked the door, revealing a silver handgun, before climbing into the car.
The man was 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was wanted in connection with the Boston marathon bombings earlier that week.
Tamerlan asked if Danny had been following the news about the bombings. “I did that,” he told Danny. “And I just killed a policeman in Cambridge.”
Tamerlan then ordered Danny to drive, giving him directions to follow through the suburban streets. At first, ‘suspect number 2’ – later identified as Tamerlan’s 19-year-old brother Dzhokhar – was following in a second car, but he later joined in the back of the Mercedes.
Describing his time spent in the car with the men, Danny recalls thinking: “Death is so close to me… I don’t want to die. I have a lot of dreams that haven’t come true yet.”
During the hour-and-a-half circling the suburbs of Boston, Danny says the bomb suspects talked of the most mundane things – girls, credit limits for students, the marvels of the Mercedes-Benz ML 350, the iPhone 5, whether anyone still listens to CDs.
The pair openly discussed driving to New York. Danny said at one point they spoke in a foreign language, with “Manhattan” being the only word he could make out.
Tamerlan asked Danny if the car could be driven out of state. Asked what he meant, one brother replied: “Like New York.”
When a friend tried to contact Danny, first texting him in Mandarin and then calling him, Tamerlan ordered him to reply to his questions in English, saying he was ill and spending the night with a friend.
“If you say a single word in Chinese, I will kill you right now,” Tamerlan had said.
Danny had first come to the US in 2009 for his master’s degree and graduated in January last year. After briefly returning to China to wait for a visa he returned to America two months ago.
He had told Tamerlan he was still a student and had barely been there a year.
“Oh, that’s why your English is not very good,” the brother had replied, finally figuring it out. “OK, you’re Chinese . . . I’m a Muslim.”
“Chinese are very friendly to Muslims!” Danny had said. “We are so friendly to Muslims.”
After being threatened with guns by both brothers as Tamerlan zigzagged the car through the outskirts of the city, Danny’s saving grace came in the form of a Shell petrol station.
The car was running low on fuel so Tamerlan pulled over. Having coaxed Danny’s PIN number from him earlier, Dhokhar went inside to pay with his credit card before returning after being told it was a cash only till.
Tamerlan handed him some cash, and as the younger brother disappeared inside to pay the older one put his gun in a door pocket and began to fiddle with a navigation device.
Knowing this split second was his chance, Danny unbuckled his seat belt, opened the door, jumped out and began to sprint away in a direction which would be awkward for Tamerlan to fire in.
“I was thinking I must do two things: unfasten my seat belt and open the door and jump out as quick as I can. If I didn’t make it, he would kill me right out, he would kill me right away,” Danny told the Globe. “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.”
Tamerlan had tried to grab him and failed, shouting as Danny fled.
Danny ran across the forecourt towards the lights of a nearby Mobil petrol station, where he hid in the supply room, shouting at the cashier to call the police.
The brothers took off in the Mercedes. Shortly after they would be involved in a shootout with police that killed Tamerlan and left an officer seriously injured. Dhokhar would escape badly hurt before being found almost 20 hours later hiding in boat in a back garden after a 9,000-strong manhunt across the wider city area.
Police praise Danny’s quick thinking, saying it allowed police to swiftly track the Mercedes via his iPhone, and possibly prevent an attack on New York City.
Danny’s refusal at giving his full Chinese name is telling of his humility, wary of attracting too much attention.
“I don’t want to be a famous person talking on the TV,” Danny told the Globe. “I don’t feel like a hero. . . . I was trying to save myself.”