By Zack O’Malley
At approximately 2:50 p.m. on April 15, as runners crossed the finish line at the Boston Marathon, a bomb detonated. Just 13 seconds later, a second explosion occurred a few a blocks down Boylston. The two explosions caused three fatalities and over 250 people were injured.
Fast forward to April 19, four days after the marathon bombings two brothers are suspected of killing an MIT campus police officer and carjacking a vehicle. The police pursued the brothers to the intersection of Dexter Avenue and Laurel Street in Watertown, about five miles from the Bentley campus. A shootout ensued between the brothers and the police and the elder brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed.
Friday morning, Dean Shepardson sent out a campus-wide email informing students that the university was aware of the situation and asked students to remain inside. With no news of an apprehension and the university in full lockdown mode, Seasons opened briefly from 12:30 to 1:00 p.m. and then again from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. to provide food to hungry students. Around 8:45 p.m., the police announced that they had apprehended the remaining suspect.
Obviously the events of this weekend were tragic and had a profound effect on the residents of the city of Boston and the surrounding areas, including Watertown. But how did this tragedy affect Bentley students, just a few short miles from the final hiding place of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev?
The Vanguard asked several students to share their experiences with us to find out how they were impacted by the heartrenching events:
Vanguard: Can you describe for us the moment when you first heard about the marathon bombings?
Freshman Arianne Bourgault: When I first heard about the bombings, I was on my way back from watching the marathon with my [cross country] team. I almost didn’t believe what was going on and then I was bombarded with calls and texts making sure I was okay. I was thankful I was okay but immediately got concerned that the bombings could have affected some of those I cheered on at the marathon.
Sophomore Ned Furtney: I had just got back from cheering out on the course at mile 19, and had walked into Fenway. I had eight texts which asked if I was okay, so I put on the news and was appalled at the events that unfolded.
Junior Erika McKay: It was a very eerie feeling of helplessness and of fear because although things like this just don’t happen here is Boston.
Junior Connor Deneen: I was on the green space hosting an event with RHA. At first I did not think much of the situation, but I continued to look through my Twitter feed as it became more clear. The news just kept getting worse and I was anticipating this trend to continue. Thankfully, the number of victims who died remained relatively low after the first few hours.
Vanguard: Did these tragic events change the way you felt about the city of Boston as a whole?
Furtney: The events of the past week made me feel more connected to the Boston community certainly. It was a devastating attack and one that made the whole city stop. But from the awful events came images of humanity. People opening their homes, going above and beyond and showing that the human spirit cannot be suppressed. It made me proud to consider myself part of the Boston community.
Deneen: It was remarkable to see the city of Boston, the surrounding community and the country come together. The response of the people of Boston reaffirmed my faith in our society. We went from such a low (the bombings), to an extraordinary high (the unity and solidarity among victims, first responders, and greater community). I am glad that Boston is able to see some of the silver lining in such a horrific and cowardly attack.
Vanguard: How did you feel about the university’s response and the way it handled the situation?
Furtney: I think Bentley had a very appropriate response. I felt safe with all the entrances guarded and didn’t mind a day of being locked in. Students, faculty and officers alike were all on the same page, which made the whole process move along much smoother.
McKay: I honestly believe that the university handled the situation with such professionalism. They were able to instill a sense of safety within the campus in addition to keeping us informed about what was going on.
Vanguard: What did you do with your time during the lockdown?
Bourgault: I mostly used the time to get some homework done. I watched the news like a hawk and contacted family and friends back at home informing them I was okay.
McKay: My roommates and I watched to news constantly for hours, only deviating to take two hours to watch a movie to get out minds off of everything, but that was short lived and we went back to the news.
Vanguard: Set the scene for us: 8:45 p.m. the suspect is apprehended, what is happening around you?
McKay: My roommates and friends are all around me glued to the TV and we sit in silence for a minute then high fived and talked about how we could actually sleep that upcoming night.
Deneen: My friends and I were listening to the police scanner and watching the news, and leading up to the apprehension, we could tell that something big was about to happen. When we first heard that the suspect was apprehended, we all started screaming and hugging. I honestly did not know exactly what happened or how it happened until the next morning, because we went directly into celebration mode.
Vanguard: What was your favorite/least favorite part of the weekend?
Bourgault: My favorite part was seeing all my friends after being in lockdown. I was so happy when they caught the suspect. I immediately went to my friends and hung out with them and then later went to the lower green space to celebrate with the campus. Least favorite part… Cabin fever!!! There are only so many papers you can write in one day before your brain is fried.
Deneen: My favorite part of the weekend was seeing the unity among the people of Boston and Bentley. It was amazing to see people come together and respectfully honor the victims, while celebrating responsibly. My least favorite part of the weekend was hearing the news early Friday morning of the MIT police officer who was killed. As the situation was unfolding between 10:30 p.m. Thursday and 5:00 a.m. Friday, I was actually very worried, as I was unsure of what was actually happening. Officer Sean Collier goes down as a hero in my book.