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Carjacking victim recalls differing demeanors of bombing suspects

From Pamela Brown, CNN
May 1, 2013 -- Updated 1253 GMT (2053 HKT)
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.

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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.

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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.

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