BOSTON MANHUNT: Williamsburg native Leah Berkenwald: ‘These guys were my neighbors’
<b>EDITORS: Updates with events through 8:45 p.m., reflects capture of Suspect No. 2.</b> Updated map showing location of incidents surrounding the manhunt for the two Boston Marathon bombings suspects; includes an updated timeline of events and information on the two brothers, one killed and one captured by police in a back yard in Watertown, Mass. MCT 2013<p> With BOSTONMARATHON-EXPLOSIONS, by MCT Purchase photo reprints »
SOMERVILLE — Leah Berkenwald, a Williamsburg native who lives on the Somerville side of Cambridge’s Inman Square, perked up when she heard the square mentioned on the news when she woke up this morning. Police searched a home that allegedly belongs to one of the bombing suspects on Norfolk Street, just a block from Inman Square.
“These guys were my neighbors,” she said in a telephone interview from her apartment.
She said though Somerville hasn’t been ordered by the state to lock down, the city sent out notifications telling people to stay indoors. She’s been receiving emergency alerts from both Somerville and since she lives so close to it, Cambridge, including one message alerting residents that they were evacuating neighborhoods and doing a controlled detonation of a suspicious item.
“I live in a really tall building overlooking Harvard Square,” she said. “The streets are deserted. If I open my window, all I hear is sirens and helicopters.”
She said she first knew something was wrong when she woke up to get ready for work and immediately got an emergency call from Tufts University, where she had a previous connection, about closing today. Since then, she’s been glued to her TV, Facebook and a website to listen to the police scanner. That website keeps crashing, she said, but listening to the scanner was almost too much to handle, anyway.
“That was really, really scary,” she said of the scanner chatter about officers searching houses and investigating possible suspects and suspicious packages, often just blocks away. “When it was really happening in my neighborhood, I decided I should get dressed in case I might need to evacuate,” she said.
Berkenwald, coordinator of wellness education at Wentworth Institute of Technology, said the feeling on campus and in the whole city has been somber since the bombings Monday. “I think a lot of students are trying to act like they’re fine, but you get the sense that everyone is shaken up,” she said.
“It’s been really hard, strange and hard,” she said. “It’s so different when it happens to your city.”
Rebecca Everett can be reached at email@example.com.