Dzhokhar was back now. “We both have guns,” Tamerlan said, though Danny had not seen a second weapon. He overheard them speak in a foreign language — “Manhattan” the only intelligible word to him — and then ask in English if Danny’s car could be driven out of state. “What do you mean?” Danny said, confused. “Like New York,” one brother said.
They continued west on Route 20, in the direction of Interstate 95, passing a police station. Danny imagined dropping and rolling from the moving car.
The tank nearly empty, they stopped at a gas station, but the pumps were closed.
Doubling back, they returned to the Watertown neighborhood and grabbed a few more things from the parked car, but nothing from the trunk. They put on an instrumental CD that sounded to Danny like a call to prayer.
Suddenly, Danny’s iPhone buzzed. A text from his roommate, wondering in Chinese where he was. Barking at Danny for instructions, Tamerlan used an English-to-Chinese app to text a clunky reply. “I am sick. I am sleeping in a friend’s place tonight.” In a moment, another text, then a call. No one answered. Seconds later, the phone rang again.
“If you say a single word in Chinese, I will kill you right now,” Tamerlan said. Danny understood. His roommate’s boyfriend was on the other end, speaking Mandarin. “I’m sleeping in my friend’s home tonight,” Danny replied in English. “I have to go.”
“Good boy,” Tamerlan said. “Good job.”
The SUV headed for a gas station. Dzhokhar went to fill up using Danny’s credit card, but quickly knocked on the window. “Cash only,” he said. Tamerlan peeled off $50.
Danny watched Dzhokhar head to the store, struggling to decide if this was his moment — until he stopped thinking about it, and let reflexes kick in.
“I was thinking I must do two things: unfasten my seat belt and open the door and jump out as quick as I can. If I didn’t make it, he would kill me right out, he would kill me right away,” Danny said. “I just did it. I did it very fast, using my left hand and right hand simultaneously to open the door, unfasten my seat belt, jump out … and go.”
Danny sprinted between the passenger side of the Mercedes and the pumps and darted into the street, not looking back, drawn to the Mobil station’s lights. “I didn’t know if it was open or not,” he said. “In that moment, I prayed.”
Safe at last
The brothers took off. The clerk, after brief confusion, dialed 911 on a portable phone, bringing it to Danny in the storeroom. The dispatcher told him to take a deep breath. The officers, arriving in minutes, took his story, with Danny noting the car could be tracked by his iPhone and by a Mercedes satellite system, mbrace.
After an hour or more — as the shootout and manhunt erupted in Watertown — police brought Danny to Watertown for a “drive-by lineup,” studying faces of detained suspects in the street from the safety of a cruiser. He recognized none of them. He spent the night talking to police and the FBI.
“I think, Tamerlan is dead, I feel good, obviously safer. But the younger brother — I don’t know,” Danny recalled thinking, wondering if Dzhokhar would come looking for him. But the police knew the wallet and registration were still in the bullet-riddled Mercedes, and that a wounded Dzhokhar had probably not gotten far. That night, they found him in a boat.
When news of the capture broke, Danny’s roommate called to him from in front of the television. Danny was on the phone at the time, talking to the girl in New York.