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Boston suspects' carjacking victim describes terrifying night

6:10 AM, May 1, 2013   |    comments
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(CBS News) You are about to hear, for the first time, from a man who got caught up in the terror in Boston two weeks ago and helped bring it to an end.

An immigrant from China, he was carjacked by the suspects, but escaped and tipped off the police.

This 26-year-old Chinese entrepreneur, who calls himself "Danny," had just pulled over in his new Mercedes on a Boston street to send a text message when a man jumped in.

In his first television interview, he tells his story. At his request, CBS News is concealing his identity and has altered his voice.

"I thought it was just a robbery, you know?" Danny said. "He took out his gun, pointed to me. He told me that 'You now I am serious. Don't be stupid.'"

But Danny quickly learned it was more than just a robbery.

"He asked me a question, like, 'Do you know the Boston explosion on Monday?' I said, 'yes.' He said, you know, 'I did that. And I just killed a policeman in Cambridge.'"

The gunman was Tamerlan Tsarneav. His younger brother, Dzhokhar, was trailing behind in another car. When they pulled over, the two suspects loaded the remaining bombs into the back of Danny's car. Tamerlan and his brother spoke to each other in Russian.

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Danny said he didn't understand much of their conversation.

"I only heard one word. It's Manhattan," he said.

"It seemed like they were going to New York because they asked me a lot of questions."

En route to a gas station, Danny's phone rang. It was his roommate, who wondered why he wasn't at home. Tamerlan pulled a gun out.

"If you don't want me to pick up the phone, I won't pick it up. I won't say anything," Danny remembers telling Tamerlan. "He told me that you have to answer the phone. But if you use any single world in Chinese, I will kill you."

When Danny's roommate heard him speaking in English, he responded in Chinese, saying "Why are you speaking in English? Are you okay?"

"I just told him I'm going to sleep over at a friend's place tonight," Danny said. "So after, I hang up the phone. Tamerlan was very happy. He said, 'Good job. Good boy.'"

At some point, he started thinking about his exit strategy. "I have a lot of things to do," he said he remembered thinking. "I have to unlock the door. I have to unfasten my seatbelt. I have to pull the handle on the door."

Finally, at a gas station Dzhokhar left the car to pay inside. Tamerlan was fiddling with the GPS. Danny knew this might be his last chance.

"I was counting," Danny said. "I was counting. I was just, 'one two, three, four.' And I just do it. And I did it. I can feel Tamerlan trying to grab me ... I was just running as fast as I can and I never look back."

He ran across the street to a Mobil gas station, pleading with the clerk on duty to call 911.

"Car-jacking occurred at Rich & Shell, 1-0-0-1 Cambridge Street," the police scanner said. "The victim fled the car at the Mobil on Memorial Drive."

Danny said he doesn't think he's a hero.

"What I was doing was trying to save myself. The police, they are the hero. They exchange gunfire with the bad guys. I think they are the heroes."

Danny felt lucky to get out of it alive and in one piece. His car, the 2013 Mercedes SUV was not so lucky. Police used its GPS to track it to where they cornered the Tsarnaev brothers in the shootout. It sustained 32 bullet holes, so the Daimler Leasing Company says a month-and-a-half into the deal, Danny's car is a total loss.

You know what? He's okay with that.

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