An unsung hero in Boston we know only as “Danny”
The situation in Boston last week could have been far worse if it weren’t for the actions of the man whose car was hijacked by the Tsarniev brothers during their mad flight from the authorities.
THIS INTERVIEW with that hero is gripping:
The 26-year-old Chinese entrepreneur had just pulled his new Mercedes to the curb on Brighton Avenue to answer a text when an old sedan swerved behind him, slamming to a stop. A man in dark clothes got out and approached the passenger window. It was nearly 11 p.m. last Thursday.
The man rapped on the glass, speaking quickly. Danny, unable to hear him, lowered the window — and the man reached an arm through, unlocked the door, and climbed in, brandishing a silver handgun.
“Don’t be stupid,” he told Danny. He asked if he had followed the news about the previous Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings. Danny had, down to the release of the grainy photos of suspects less than six hours earlier.
“I did that,” said the man, who would later be identified as Tamerlan Tsarnaev. “And I just killed a policeman in Cambridge.”
The story of that night unfolds like a Tarantino movie, bursts of harrowing action laced with dark humor and dialogue absurd for its ordinariness, reminders of just how young the men in the car were. Girls, credit limits for students, the marvels of the Mercedes-Benz ML 350 and the iPhone 5, whether anyone still listens to CDs — all were discussed by the two 26-year-olds and the 19-year-old driving around on a Thursday night.
Danny described 90 harrowing minutes, first with the younger brother following in a second car, then with both brothers in the Mercedes, where they openly discussed driving to New York, though Danny could not make out if they were planning another attack. Throughout the ordeal, he did as they asked while silently analyzing every threatened command, every overheard snatch of dialogue for clues about where and when they might kill him.
“Death is so close to me,” Danny recalled thinking. His life had until that moment seemed ascendant, from a province in Central China to graduate school at Northeastern University to a Kendall Square start-up.
“I don’t want to die,” he thought. “I have a lot of dreams that haven’t come true yet.”
His quick-thinking escape, authorities say, allowed police to swiftly track down the Mercedes, abating a possible attack by the brothers on New York City and precipitating a wild shoot-out in Watertown that would seriously wound one officer, kill Tamerlan, and leave a severely injured Dzhokhar hiding in the neighborhood. He was caught the following night, ending a harrowing week across Greater Boston…
Danny, who offered his account only on the condition that the Globe not reveal his Chinese name, said he does not want attention. But he suspects his full name may come out if and when he testifies against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
“I don’t want to be a famous person talking on the TV,” Danny said, kneading his hands, uncomfortable with the praise he has received from the few friends he has shared the story with, some of whom encouraged him to go public. “I don’t feel like a hero. . . . I was trying to save myself.”