It was one of the eeriest sites outside of a Hollywood July 4th blockbuster: the normally bustling streets of Boston nearly empty on a workday. During the chaotic manhunt for the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings, officials issued an unprecedented mandatory stay-in-place order for one of the nation’s biggest cities on Friday.
The move came in response to a firefight with the two suspects in the case early Friday morning in Watertown, Massachusetts, followed by the escape from the scene of the remaining living suspect, 19-year-old Dzhokar Tsarnaev.
The live-action hunt for the younger Tsarnaev brother — elder sibling and purported bombing mastermind Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in a gun battle with police — kept millions of Americans glued to their screens. Among them were students at a number of Boston-area universities, who spent their time on lockdown searching for updates and contacting family to keep their minds off the chaos outside their doors.
ABC News caught up with a number of the students during the quarantine and shared their stories with MTV News.
“Today my dorm, my whole university is on lockdown, it’s kind of like a ghost town outside in Boston,” said Boston University student Caroline Cin, 20. A notice posted in her dorm read, “Please don’t go outside! Buses + dining halls are closed until further notice. All classes cancelled.”
Tufts University student Nicole Campellone, 19, said, “I think we’re all definitely a little bit tense right now on campus just in terms of not knowing exactly what’s going on.” She and her fellow students congregated in common rooms, huddled around computers searching for updates, calling their loved ones and talking about the surreal search for Dzokhar playing out on live TV.
While the situation was hectic and a bit scary, Boston College freshman Thomas Napoli said his school was doing a good job of keeping students updated via text and email. Though they had to stay in place, BC students were allowed to briefly leave their rooms on Friday to get a bite at the cafeteria, though did so under police escort.
Whether they were doing homework, watching movies or tossing a Frisbee in the hall, the day ended up being an unexpectedly emotional bonding experience for some. “To see everyone come together is really a great thing,” said BC freshman Nick Genovese hours before police caught the younger Tsarnaev brother after yet another shootout. “It just seems that when something catastrophic like this happens people really find the best in each other.”