Skip to main content

Carjacking victim recalls differing demeanors of bombing suspects

From Pamela Brown, CNN
updated 8:53 AM EDT, Wed May 1, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Driver provides his account of Boston-area carjacking
  • He details behavior of the Tsarnaev brothers
  • Older brother asked Danny about his heritage
  • Incident followed Boston Marathon bombings

New York (CNN) -- During the 90-minute ride of terror, Tamerlan Tsarnaev kept talking.

He barked out orders, detailed his hatred of Americans and asked his carjacking victim to remain calm.

Tsarnaev kept asking about the 26-year-old driver's heritage and family.

"If you cooperate, I won't kill you," said Tsarnaev, who, along with his younger brother, was a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings and the killing of a police officer.

Defending the Boston bombing suspect
Widow: Give the body to his family
Survivor: Rescuers better than Tom Brady
'Miracle worker' to help defend Tsarnaev

The Massachusetts driver, whom CNN is identifying only as Danny because of privacy and safety concerns, gave his account of the April 18 incident and described the very different behavior of Tsarnaev and his younger brother, Dzhokhar.

While the talkative Tamerlan was the ringleader during the carjacking, the quiet Dzhokhar responded to multiple orders, such as getting money from an ATM.

The only question Dzhokhar asked was how much Danny paid for his Mercedes SUV.

After the Chinese entrepreneur eventually escaped, police caught up with the brothers and engaged in a gun battle that left Tamerlan Tsarnaev dead.

From fear to cheers: The final 24 hours that paralyzed Boston

Dzhokhar, wounded, was found later and is in police custody.

Hours after authorities released images of the two bombing suspects, the brothers spontaneously decided to go to New York's Times Square to blow up their six remaining explosives, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told investigators. His account was outlined by New York's police commissioner.

Before forcing their way into Danny's vehicle three days after the bombings, the brothers fatally shot a campus police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, police said.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev said right after he got in the vehicle that he was responsible for the bombings and the officer's death, according to Danny.

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

Danny, who first spoke with The Boston Globe, gave CNN this account of the carjacking in a more than hourlong conversation off-camera.

-- Danny had stopped his vehicle to send a text when Tamerlan walked up and tapped on the window. The suspect, allegedly carrying a handgun, opened the door and got into the passenger seat.

-- Dzhokhar followed in another vehicle.

-- Under questioning by Tamerlan, Danny played up being Chinese and tried to humanize himself by talking about cell phones and family. Danny told CNN he felt being Chinese helped save his life.

-- Eventually, Dzhokhar abandoned his vehicle and the three rode in Danny's SUV. Tamerlan started driving, using back streets in the Boston area, trying to avoid police and searching for an open gas station.

-- Danny heard the word "Manhattan" at one point and thought the brothers were going to drive to New York, kill him on the way and dump his body under the bridge.

-- When they stopped to refuel at a Shell gas station, Danny managed to slip away. He could feel Tamerlan grab him and heard him yell an expletive. Danny ran to a Mobil gas station, where he told an employee there what happened.

Danny told CNN the fact that his car was low on gas helped save his life.

During the carjacking, Danny thought about a girl in New York whom he really liked.

He thought he'd never see her again.

CNN's Karin Caifa contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Boston Marathon Bombings
Survivors of three earlier bombings describe their journeys forward — and offer poignant words for those just one year away from the day that changed their lives.
updated 2:15 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
"United, we will always persevere." That was the message Massachusetts shared on the anniversary of twin bombings that turned last year's Boston Marathon from a celebration into a day of horror.
updated 2:47 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
I'm running it to make a simple statement: Acts of cowardice will not stop me from exercising my rights as an athlete and a human.
updated 3:40 PM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Many of those whose lives were shattered are still struggling to put the pieces back together. Here are some of the victims, as well as larger funds, who continue to need your support.
updated 11:22 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
As April 15 approaches, the fact that we tell time in circles brings us to remember the attack on the Boston Marathon one year ago.
updated 10:47 PM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
CNN's Bill Weir talks to Carlos Arredondo about helping those injured immediately after the Boston Marathon bombing.
updated 10:39 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
By running in response to the tragedy, we weren't attempting to negate the irreparable harm done to the people of Boston last year. We wanted to do something, anything, to try to process it.
updated 7:24 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
All of our assumptions have turned out to be wrong. Here are four things we've learned since then:
updated 4:17 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been frozen in the public mind by four images.
updated 7:22 PM EDT, Tue April 8, 2014
Adrianne Haslet-Davis' life as a dancer was shattered last year at the Boston Marathon bombings.
updated 7:40 AM EDT, Mon March 24, 2014
A man who lost both legs in the Boston Marathon attack is engaged to the woman he was waiting for at the finish line.
updated 10:21 AM EDT, Wed April 17, 2013
Mistaken identity in the hospital added to her family's grief.
updated 11:38 AM EDT, Wed April 24, 2013
The slain MIT cop "was born to be a police officer."
updated 10:37 PM EDT, Thu April 18, 2013
The graduate student from China followed her passion to Boston.
updated 1:10 AM EDT, Wed April 17, 2013
Almost a year ago, 8-year-old Martin Richard wrote four simple words on a sign at school: No more hurting people.
updated 12:37 PM EDT, Wed July 17, 2013
Mery Daniel couldn't wait for Marathon. It was one of the things the aspiring doctor and Haitian immigrant loved most about living in Boston.
updated 9:09 AM EDT, Thu May 2, 2013
After twin blasts shook Boston -- killing three and wounding more than 260 others -- investigators sprung into action looking for those responsible.
updated 11:05 AM EDT, Sun April 28, 2013
The black Mercedes SUV sped down Spruce Street going about 70 mph, the driver struggling to maintain control. The vehicle had a busted headlight and flat tire.
Click through our galleries of the Boston Marathon bombing, from perspectives on the attack to the suspects, as well as the manhunt and celebrations in Boston after both suspects were found.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT