An iPhone App Might Have Saved The Life Of Boston Marathon Bombers’ Carjack Victim


Although it’s been almost over a week since the carnage of the Boston Marathon Bombings and the related manhunt and shootout came to a close, but there are still a lot more questions than answers about what happened and why.

A new report from, though, has filled in some of the blanks in regards to the three hours on April 18th in which the Tsarnaev brothers carjacked a Mercedes driven by a 26-year-old Chinese man… and it looks like an iPhone app helped save his life.

It was around 11 p.m. last Tursday when Danny, a 26 year old Chinese entrepreneur driving his leased Mercedes down Brighton Avenue — was accosted by a man in dark clothes who put his hand through the window, unlocked the door, pointed a handgun at Danny and told him, “Don’t be stupid. I’m the guy who did the Boston Marathon Bombings, and I just killed a policeman in Cambridge.”

For the next three hours, until he managed to make a daring escape at a Shell Station, Danny drove the two Tsarnaev brothers around, in terror for his life.

According to the Metro Desk report, though, one of Danny’s closest shaves came when his roommate texted him in Chinese on his iPhone, wondering where he was.

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.”

It’s a small detail, and probably doesn’t count for much in the grand scheme of things, but who knows how Danny’s car ride with the Tsarnaev brothers would have panned out if he hadn’t had an iPhone on him, or if that free English-to-Chinese app hadn’t happened to be installed on his phone? Every story — even a tragedy like this one — is filled with a thousand different variables, and sometimes, an iPhone and a free translation app are two of them.

  • tomp

    meeeeeeeeeeehhhh…. what a non-sense story!!! Yeah, I’ve also heard he was wearing a Clarks shoes which also saved him from slipping and breaking his neck.

  • ConduciveMammal

    I don’t get how it saved him. Unless the call put the bombers off or the roommate grew suspicious of him randomly speaking English and alerted the authorities? If it didn’t then it really had no effect whatsoever, it was just another event.

  • Jdsonice

    Hum! Weak Weak. Could have done it with an Android app.

  • jevannidavis

    Wow, who writes this garbage? What does this even mean? This article is so irrelevant and has absolutely no content worth reading. Seriously, what possessed the writer to even come up with such a definite and conclusive title as such, based on ideas that completely failed to come together? Maybe I’m just not reading thoroughly enough, but based on what I just read twice, I think the naiveté needed to come up with such garbage as this is priceless. I can’t believe I just created an account just to tell the author WTF WERE YOU THINKING? Completely nonsensical waste of my time.

  • Andrew Newsome

    Haha this is such a weird article. Doesn’t really mean anything but I guess something has to be posted haha.

  • Steven Quan

    I don’t get how it saved him. Unless the call put the bombers off or the roommate grew suspicious of him randomly speaking English and alerted the authorities? If it didn’t then it really had no effect whatsoever, it was just another event.

    The app may or may not have been a factor but the fact that he had an iPhone made a huge difference. The Law Enforcement used the phone location feature to track the Mercedes and that’s when the shootout happened. It doesn’t pay to steal iPhones!

  • crankerchick

    This article is. not. good. How did the iPhone specifically, or any of the information in the article, possibly help save the life of the victim? The police using the phone for geolocation could have happened on any other phone, and until you draw a link between the text messages and the role they played in the hunt, this is just random fud that doesn’t come together to say anything meaningful. LOLz

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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