A Chinese entrepreneur has told an American newspaper how Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev stopped his car on the night of the deadly shoot-out with police, uttering the words 'Don't be stupid', before carjacking the vehicle.
The man, who did not want his surname known and was identified only as Danny, recounted to The Boston Globe the dramatic events that unfolded as his new Mercedes was parked in a residential street while he answered a text message.
In New York, city officials said Tsarnaev and his brother Dzhokhar planned to detonate more explosives in Times Square as they were being hunted by police.
New York police chief Ray Kelly said on Thursday that the pair intended to use a pressure-cooker bomb - similar to the two that erupted at the marathon - as well as five pipe bombs and improvised grenades they still had on hand as they drove around in the hijacked Mercedes.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, is charged with carrying out the Boston Marathon bombing that killed three people and wounded more than 260, and he could get the death penalty. He has been moved from a Boston hospital to a federal medical centre about 65 kilometres west of the city, the US Marshals Service said yesterday.
According to the Globe, Danny - originally from a province in central China, and a student of an American university between 2009 and 2012 - said a man rapped on his window as he sat in his car on April 18 at 11pm. When he wound down the window, the man reached in and unlocked the door. He climbed in, armed with a handgun.
"Don't be stupid," he told Danny, before asking if he had heard about the bombing of the city's marathon. "I did that," Tamerlan Tsarnaev said.
Eventually, while parked at a supermarket where Tamerlan Tsarnaev had gone to withdraw cash, Danny said he saw his chance and escaped from the vehicle. The newspaper also quoted Danny as saying that he heard the two brothers speak in a foreign language and mention Manhattan. "Last night, we were informed by the FBI that the surviving attacker revealed that New York City was next on their list of targets," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg dssaid.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had confessed the plan to FBI agents from his hospital bed, he added.
The 19-year-old and his elder brother made a "spontaneous" decision to go to New York.
Danny, who returned to the United States from China two months ago, described driving around with the brothers for 90 harrowing minutes, telling the pair "Chinese are very friendly to Muslims", before he made a run for it when the carjackers stopped to get cash and petrol.
He then called police, allowing them to throw down a dragnet that thwarted the brothers' New York plans.
"I don't want to be a famous person talking on the TV," he told The Globe. "I don't feel like a hero. I was trying to save myself."
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in one shoot-out with police while Dzhokhar, critically wounded, was found on Friday last week hiding in a boat in a suburban backyard.
Kelly revealed on Wednesday that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had told investigators that the pair planned to go to New York "to party". However, "a subsequent questioning of Dzhokhar revealed that he and his brother decided spontaneously on Times Square as a target", Kelly said at the joint news conference with Bloomberg.
The Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee disputed that claim, saying it was more likely the Tsarnaev brothers were planning another attack in Boston instead.
"It's not clear to me that they were actually going to set those devices off, even though they had them with them," congressman Mike Rogers told CNN.
Additional reporting by Associated Press