The Lookout

Carjacking victim in bombing case speaks out

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"Danny" (NBC/Today)

The man carjacked by one of the suspected Boston Marathon bombers after the attack is speaking out about his ordeal—but not revealing himself, at least to the public.

"Danny," identified as a 26-year-old Chinese entrepreneur, gave on-camera interviews to NBC, CBS and CNN this week, with his face darkened and voice modified to protect his identify.

Danny told the networks that he was sitting in his parked 2013 Mercedes SUV sending a text message when a man, who police believe was alleged bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, put his hand through an open car window, opened the door from the inside, got in and pointed a gun at him.

"I thought it was just a robbery, you know?" Danny told CBS News. "He told me, 'You know I am serious. Don't be stupid.'"

Tsarnaev, he said, asked him if he had been following the news of the marathon bombings.

“I said, 'Yes, of course,’" Danny told NBC's Matt Lauer. “Then he said, ‘I did that. And I just killed a policeman in Cambridge.'" The officer, 27-year-old Sean Collier, who worked on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was shot to death while he sat in his cruiser, authorities say.

“At first, I can't manage to drive,’’ Danny said. “I was shaking. My body was shaking. Tamerlan told me, ‘Relax, man. Slow down. Don't drive too fast.’’’

Tamerlan’s younger brother, 19-year-old bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Danny said, followed the Mercedes in a separate car. The brothers stopped and loaded what police say were explosives from the second car into the Mercedes.

"This is like something you see in a movie, isn't it?" Tamerlan said at one point during the carjacking, according to Danny.

At another point during the 90-minute ordeal, Danny said, he got a call. He was asked who was calling, and he answered that it was his roommate.

"[Tamerlan] was nervous," recollected Danny. "He took out his gun, [pointed it at] me, saying, ‘If you say any single word in Chinese, I will kill you right now.'"

Danny said he told his friend, in English, that "'I'm going to sleep in my friend's place tonight,' My roommate is like, ‘What? Why you [speaking] English to me?’ I kept talking, [saying], 'I gotta go, I gotta go.'"

He continued: "After, I hang up the phone, Tamerlan was very happy. He said, 'Good job. Good boy.'"

The carjacking victim told CNN he felt the fact he was Chinese—and not American—saved his life.

The group drove to a Shell gas station, where Dzhokhar got out to use an ATM and pump gas. Danny jumped out of the car, leaving his iPhone inside. “I took off," he said. Tamerlan "tried to grab me. He was trying to grab me. It was very close. I can feel it.”

He ran to another gas station and told the attendant to call 911. Using the vehicle's GPS, authorities tracked the Mercedes to Watertown, where Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with police. A wounded Dzhokhar evaded capture for 18 hours, later surrendering from a shrink-wrapped boat he was hiding on in a yard.

During the carjacking, Danny heard the brothers reference Manhattan. He told CNN he thought the brothers were going to drive to New York, kill him on the way and dump his body under a bridge.

“I think I was really lucky," Danny told Lauer of his escape. “God was with me.”

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