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North country natives now living in Mass. discuss week’s events

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WATERTOWN, Mass. - Shelby M. Chubb has lived in Watertown, Mass. for just over a year and is hoping to return to her Akwesasne home this weekend to celebrate her birthday on Sunday with friends with family.

But her plans were disrupted Friday when her community, and most of Boston, was placed under a lock down as federal, state and local law enforcement officials searched the area for the 19 year old Cambridge man wanted in connection with the Boston Marathon bombing.

Neither Ms. Chubb or her husband, Andrew Garcia, like most Boston residents, were allowed to even leave their home. The ban was lifted shortly after 6 p.m., but the nation’s attention returned to the Boston suburb approximately a half hour later when heavy gunfire erupted in Watertownn, Mass. Hundreds of police officers rushed to the area where shots were fired.

“A military-style Humvee is parked at the end of the street. A couple of our neighbors have tried to leave, but when they reach that point they’re getting turned back around,” she said late Friday afternoon. “Our whole town is on lock down, which is kind of unfortunate because Sunday is my birthday, and we want to leave to come back up north.”

While the violence moved into Watertown, Mass., just after 11 p.m. Thursday, Ms. Chubb said neither she or her husband were aware of what was going on until they woke up Friday morning.

“My husband and I didn’t hear any explosions or anything like that. We both slept through it,” she said, adding though it didn’t take long for them to hear what was going once they woke up this morning.

“When we woke up this morning I had already received several texts from friends in the area wondering if we were safe,” she said. “We’ve been watching on TV ever since we got those texts this morning.”

When asked to describe her new hometown, Ms. Chubb said it’s kind of ironic since her and her husband were actually talking about that earlier this week.

“My husband and I were actually talking the other day about whenever people ask us about what Watertown is like. We tell them that it’s such a quiet community, and we feel safe here,” she said. “That’s why we’re in such shock that this is happening.”

With all of the police and military presence in their community, Ms. Chubb said that after a period of anxiety Friday morning, she was feeling safe byFriday afternoon.

“This morning when I first got upm and they were reporting he (suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev) was still at large, I’ll admit I was scared,” she said, adding they live on the ground floor in a two-family home.

“If he needed to get in somewhere to hide, it wouldn’t have been hard for him to break a window and get in our home.”

Shawon A. Rodger, a native of Norwood who has lived in Boston since this past summer, said he “was literally 75 feet from the site of the explosions.”

Mr. Rodger explained that he works at the Prudential Center, which is on Boylston Street, where both of the explosions occurred.

“The first explosion sounded kind of like thunder or a train going under the Prudential Center. The second explosion sounded like it was right on top of us,“ he said.

After the second explosion, Mr. Rodger said everyone knew something was wrong.

“Our first initial reaction was to get our clients out,” he said. “Then our HR (human resources) person told us all to leave. We just kind of abandoned everything.”

It was at that point that total chaos ensued.

“The scariest part was seeing people from the streets escaping through the Prudential Center. People were coming in off of the streets because they had nowhere else to go, so we (other store employees) just all joined the crowd of people trying to escape.”

Since Monday’s event, Mr. Rodger said commuting in the city has become more difficult, as several trolley stops remained closed. Mr. Rodger also noted that the building he works in, like many other Boston businesses, was closed on Friday while the hunt for Tsarnaev was in progress.

“Everywhere you look there are armed guards, officers and helicopters,” he said, adding that while he feels safe there is definitely some lingering anxiety. “There are certain symptoms or triggers that bring us (he and his co-workers) all back to it.”

Explaining that statement, Mr. Rodger elaborated, “Any time there is a loud noise it makes my heart pound. Any time we heard a siren or anything outside the mall, we would all kind of just stop what we’re doing,” he said, adding loud noises and sirens aren’t even the worst.

“If people are screaming, even if it’s just kid’s playing outside it brings us all back,” he said. “There were 23 of us in the store and I thought we were all going to die.”

Following Monday’s events Mr. Rodger wrote a blog about his experiences, which may be read at http://shayprose.tumblr.com/post/48127951888/an-account-of-the-bombing.

While his blog tells in great detail the tale of the day through his eyes, it is the last eight words that are perhaps the most chilling.

“Boston is different for me now. Probably forever.”

Alexa C. Cappione of Massena was also in Boston on what is now being referred to as Marathon Monday. She is a freshman at UMass Boston, where she plays hockey. “I was actually at the marathon,” she said. “I was at the one-mile left mark, so I was a mile from where it happened.”

While Ms. Cappione said she didn’t see the explosions, she did hear them, although she initially didn’t think anything of the blasts.

“We couldn’t see anything, but we heard both of the explosions,” she said, noting she was with a group of friends. “We didn’t really make anything of it, because we thought it was a cannon fired off by some people celebrating.”

While she didn’t initially think anything of the blasts, Ms. Cappione said it didn’t take her long to realize that there was something wrong.

“Word obviously got out fast. Police officers were running in the opposite direction telling people to stop running, and they were yelling at people to get out of the area,” she said. “I got a bunch of texts, but there wasn’t any cell phone service so people were freaking out.”

Since Monday, she said she hasn’t really gone into the city and her school remains closed. While she said she feels safe on campus, she did note that everybody seems to be on high alert.

“I’ve been spending a lot of time with the team and any time we hear a siren or anything we all kind of freeze. We’re all pretty paranoid,” she said.

That being said Ms. Cappione said she is planning to return to Boston for her sophomore year.

“This isn’t going to stop me from coming back,” she said.

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