April 19, 2013

Mainers in Boston share 'sense of fear' in eerily quiet city

By Matt Byrne mbyrne@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

BOSTON — Logan Leavitt, 20, was supposed to be on a train to New York City by now. Alex Lowe should have been in a politics class at Bentley University. And when Seth Robertson heard the news, he was getting ready to go to work.

Instead, the three Maine natives – like most Boston residents Friday morning – are holding their breath and waiting as law enforcement close in on the second man suspected of orchestrating the deadly bombing at the Boston Marathon.

"People have a sense of fear, and a sense of the unknown," said Leavitt, a 20-year-old from Portland who is studying journalism at Emerson College. "The city is (on) complete lockdown."

Leavitt had planned to board an Amtrak train about 5:30 a.m., but watched as police methodically shut down the city's transit system and ushered him and scores of others into taxi cabs to return home.

He described an eerie scene near Boston's South Station, steps from the usually bustling financial district. After police ordered residents to remain inside and businesses to shut down, the streets remained empty, Leavitt said.

"There's literally no cars on the road," he said.

Seth Robertson, who graduated from the University of Maine in 2006 and has lived in Boston ever since, said he works at Northeastern University, which was also closed today because of the lockdown. He, like many, has sat glued to his Twitter feed (@sethdrobertson) and the local news stations as law enforcement swarm through the city seeking the suspect.

"Boston is pretty much completely on hold right now," said Robertson, 29. "There are a couple of cars driving down the street but for the most part it's a ghost town over here."

Alex Lowe, a 19-year-old freshman at Bentley University in Waltham, Mass., said he awoke around 7:30 Friday morning to find multiple email messages from college administrators canceling classes as the manhunt continued in the Watertown area, one town over from his campus.

"I've heard a few times police sirens driving past the university in the direction of Watertown," said Lowe. "It is definitely nerve-wracking. We don't plan on going anywhere." 

Paige Lucas, a Cheverus graduate who is a sophomore at Tufts University in Medford, said she woke this morning at 6:45 a.m. to a an automated telephone call from the school announcing that the subway system was closed for the day.

A quick check of her emails showed that classes were canceled and students were told to stay on campus and inside as much as possible.

"It's kind of like a ghost town," said Lucas. "My friends are definitely scared and stuff."

Medford is about five miles from Watertown but she said one of her friends was up late Thursday night and could hear the confrontation.

"He heard the explosions in Watertown when they were throwing the grenades in the street," she said. Friday morning, there was a heavier-than-usual police presence on campus, she said.

Many of the dining hall staff couldn't make it to work Friday because residents have been told to stay inside and there is no public transportation, she said. Lucas, who works for the dining service but wasn't scheduled to go in, pitched in with other student workers to help operate the cafeteria in her dormitory.

Her classmate at Cheverus, Danielle Tourigny of Biddeford, is in her second year at Northeastern.

She was scheduled to take a statistics final exam today but it was postponed indefinitely.

Tourigny woke at 8:30 a.m. to her roommate screaming.

"She was saying that the university was closed, the entire city is closed and there is a man with a bomb on the loose," Tourigny recalled.

Skeptical, she checked on line and found that her roommate wasn't exaggerating. From Tourigny's vantage point on the ninth floor of her dormitory, the city looks deserted.

"I have literally not seen a person this entire time," she said at about 1:30 p.m. "The only cars that have gone by are police cars with sirens on – and also helicopters."

Tourigny's dorm faces west, in the direction of Cambridge and Watertown, and the cruisers have been heading that way, she said.

Tourigny said her professor announced the statistics exam will be postponed until Monday, or Tuesday, or Wednesday.

"Hopefully I get to leave the building soon. I'm getting a little stir crazy in here," she said.
 

 

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