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BOSTON MANHUNT: Former Gazette reporter calls manhunt, lockdown disturbing and frightening

Debra Bradley Ruder, a former Northampton resident who now lives in Newton, this morning described the experience of being in lockdown as “creepy, disturbing, frightening, nerve-wracking.”

Ruder, a freelance journalist and former Daily Hampshire Gazette reporter, said she and her husband, Eric, and their 16-year-old son were “hunkered down” at home, keeping in touch with friends, and following news of the manhunt on TV, radio and the Internet. She’d been in touch with friends in Watertown, she said, who had described hearing explosions and gunfire during the first shootout between police and the two suspects.

Ruder said that she and her family live about 7 miles from Watertown — far enough away not to feel in imminent danger, but close enough to feel “really rattled.

“It’s hard to focus. A million things go through your mind, first of all, of course, is everyone we know safe,” she said. “I can’t stop thinking about who these guys were, and why would they want to inflict” this suffering on people.

The widespread, unprecedented lockdown seemed appropriate, Ruder said: “I’m not going to second-guess the authorities.” At least at the start, she said, “they didn’t know where he was, and you don’t want to be in the way. I’d rather be safe than sorry.”

Ruder, 54, said the events of this extraordinary, almost surreal week made her feel as though Monday’s marathon was ages ago. She and her family had gone to the Red Sox game in Fenway Park that morning, she said, and had come home and switched on the TV to watch — she thought — a little of the race coverage.

Ruder said that as a former employee at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, she’d participated in disaster emergency drills and training at the hospital. As soon as the bombings happened, she said, she remembered everyone going through that training and knew that her former colleagues were prepared to deal with whatever came their way.

“I felt grateful, but also saddened that Boston was prepared to handle that — what a sad commentary,” she said.

Ruder said she and her son were supposed to catch a flight later Friday to St. Louis, for a college visit. As of late Friday morning, though, it wasn’t known when air traffic would resume.

In the scheme of things, that’s a minor inconvenience, Ruder said, during a “strange and upsetting” week. “I’m trying to do some normal things, like get some work done. But it’s always in the background. I’ve had this sick feeling in my stomach since it happened.”

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