BOSTON — A Bluffton resident and University of Findlay professor was one of the hundreds of thousands on lockdown Friday in a hotel in the heart of the city. Across the Charles River, a Lima native witnessed a manhunt unfold outside her apartment.
Dr. Cara Davies, an University of Findlay assistant professor of clinical anatomy and neuroscience, was in Boston with her husband to attend and present to a large medical conference scheduled to begin today.
The couple ended up doing what the entire region has been told to do: stay put.
“From our hotel, I can see the I-93 interchange, and police are in riot gear on the overpasses. It really feels grave, to see that type of mobilization,” Davies said. “It’s amazing to think a 19-year-old kid can cause this type of response.”
The hotel is about five blocks from where a shootout with the alleged Marathon bombers happened Thursday night and early Friday morning, Davies said. She and her husband were not aware of what had happened until they turned on the television about 6 a.m. Friday.
The American Association of Anatomists was expected to host a large conference with several thousand people, Davies said. The conference organizers had informed those attending that the city was in a very fluid situation, and people should attend at their own discretion.
Davies and her husband planned to leave the hotel and stay with friends elsewhere in New England as soon as they feel they safely can travel.
Watching the news from inside the city, Davies said the police pace felt “frenetic,” and people there are paying close attention to the inferences about other suspects and other bombs.
“It’s like they’re up against a time clock,” she said. “Things are scary.”
With universities, schools and public transportation closed, myriad events cancelled and people told to stay home, the city seemed eerie.
“You know, they’re telling people things like, ‘If you’re driving, don’t stop for someone trying to flag you down.’ You’re not supposed to answer your doors. It almost feels like a police state,” Davies said.
However, she said the muscular and rapid response of law enforcement was a testament to how the government has learned to mobilize for such an event.
“It’s remarkable how swiftly there’s been a national presence here,” Davies said.
The scene in Cambridge
Lima native Christa Hartsock now lives in a neighborhood people from around the world saw on their television screens Friday. But she first heard the news of a manhunt with a phone call from her mother, Cyndi Hartsock, back in Lima.
The bombing suspects' apartment on Norfolk Street is a caddy-cornered block away from where Christa Hartsock lives with her partner, Jim Fingal. Christa sent her thoughts from Friday via email.
“In the early morning, we were told that the entire city was on lockdown, and that a shelter-in-place was in effect for our area. At one point, I looked out the window and saw a steady stream of slow traffic out the window. First incredulous at people ignoring the travel ban, I looked into the cars and noticed that each was filled with a badged officer. Police, officers in fatigue, and FBI agents became a heavy presence near the intersection, both in car and on foot,” Hartsock wrote. “At some point, I heard over the radio that the suspect's residence was on Norfolk. Until this time, media had been allowed on the corner of Cambridge at Norfolk, in front of Martin Brothers Liquors (the big yellow sign that many saw on national news, which we live above), and around the time I heard the announcement, the officers pushed the media line back to the next farthest intersection, placing our apartment within the police line.”
While police evacuated Norfolk Street residents, Hartsock and Fingal remained in their home through the day. Hartsock moved to Cambridge to attend Harvard University. After graduating in 2010, she remained in the area, working at an architectural firm. With many friends in the area and in Watertown, Hartsock said she was glued to social media and television news throughout the day, just trying to keep up and keep tabs on her friends.
About 6 p.m., police lifted the orders to remain indoors, and people streamed to the streets. When shots were reported in Watertown, Hartsock said, she rushed back to the computer. Soon after, bombing suspect Dzhokar Tsarnaev was reported captured.