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BOSTON MANHUNT: Northampton native Michael O’Brien spends sleepless night as police sweep his city

Northampton native Michael O’Brien said he didn’t sleep much last night in his Somerville home after hearing about the Boston Marathon bombings suspects robbing a 7-Eleven convenience store in Cambridge and shooting an MIT police officer.

“That’s right around the corner from me. I go to that 7-Eleven about once a week for Arnold Palmers,” O’Brien, 32, said. He lives in Somerville on Union Square.

“I was up until 4 or 5 a.m., I think I slept an hour and a half,” he said. “Every time the house creaks you jump. It was just freaky because you don’t know where he is. I just heard cop cars going by all night.”

O’Brien said he works as a chauffeur so he is familiar with all the streets he has been hearing about on the news as police search for the remaining suspect. “It’s crazy. I’m just watching TV, I’m not going anywhere,” he said.

He said it’s been a weird week to live in the Boston area, as he has on and off for seven years.

When the two bombs went off at the marathon finish line Monday afternoon, O’Brien was stuck in traffic on Huntington Street, just on the other side of the Boston Public Library from the blasts.

“I knew immediately what it was, it was the loudest, strongest thing I ever felt in my life,” he said. “I was stuck in traffic and I couldn’t tell where it came from.”

He was eventually able to drive away from the area, but the shock of the blast stayed with him. He said his family back in Northampton has been checking in to see if he is OK.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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