We planned to head to Boston for Patriots Day events, possibly stopping by the Marathon.
We decided to sleep in that morning.
The whole world knows of the bombings during the marathon this week. It has dominated the news channels like nothing since maybe 9/11, around here at least. On Thursday night, the photos of the suspects were made public. I went to sleep hoping they are found. I awoke to discover an alarming connection.
Dzhokar Tsarnaev, the younger of the suspected bombers was on the run. Following a happenstance event where they were spotted, which led to the murder of a poor police officer, the Tsarnaev brothers went on the run from the police. As I was slumbering down in Swansea, an epic firefight was unfolding in Watertown. Buckets of bullets flew through normally quiet neighborhoods. The suspects threw hand fashioned bombs at pursuing police. It is a miracle more cops, or innocent bystanders, weren’t hurt. The chase came to a stop, Tamerlan, the older brother/ occasional boxer/ suspected brains behind the operation was dead due to bullets and a possible explosion due to his own bombs (details to follow I am sure). Dzhokar ran away on foot…
Early this morning, I awaken to visit the necessary. I don’t have to be anywhere for several hours, so I reach for my phone/alarm clock to get a couple more hours of sleep. My News App had gone insane overnight, with Breaking news reports filling the screen. I read them, and am amazed and horrified at the spectacle of Watertown. I let me wife know whats happening and we turn on the news. They bombers are now identified, no longer “Black Hat, and White Hat”. The younger appears to be a college student at Umass Amherst. I then get an email/text message/ and voicemail from my college (from which I am trying to graduate this year).
Classes are cancelled.
At this point, I did not make the connection. I continued watching the news. Then another message comes…
Mandatory Campus Evacuation.
At this time, the news confirms that he is not a student at Amherst…
My blood runs cold. Sure enough, Dzhokar Tsarnaev is a student, one of my peers, at Umass Dartmouth. My fellow students start blowing gaskets on facebook. More message follow of evacuation plans and what to do if you are a resident and not a commuter. The maniac had a dorm on Campus.
Shocked does not begin to describe how I felt. If I thought I was close to these events because of my Boston connections this week, or being a Massachusetts resident, a New Englander, or an American, nothing compared to realizing this murderer was someone I could have walked past 100 times over the last couple years. I might have eaten in the same room as this person.
I went to work, and monitored the radio closely, Wifey was listening to Police Scanners for the REAL story. We heard that Police, National Guard, Homeland Security, FBI had the Campus on lockdown. a couple of helicopters had landed on the quad.
Then it happened.
I was on my lunch break, and a loud rumble could be heard. We all rushed outside and saw 6 Blackhawk Helicopters flying in formation over Somerset, MA- heading west towards UMass. Oh my. Seeing these machines fly overhead, with my own eyes, drove home that this was actually real. This is not some distant event, but something that will have a bearing, although short term, on my life.
This will dominate the final weeks of the semester. It will be front and center at commencement. This guy was one of us.
That scares the hell out of me.