by Jim Boyle
While America was waking up to the news last Friday morning that one Boston Marathon bombing suspect was dead and the second was still on the loose, Kate Kramer was making sure her door to Boston University residence hall was locked.
The 2007 Elk River High School graduate had gotten campus text alert warning her to stay inside.
The text message explained that at approximately 10:50 p.m. the night before, an MIT police officer was shot on MIT campus in area of Massachusetts Avenue and Vassar Street in Cambridge. “The unknown suspect is currently at large. Please stay away from the area and remain indoors. Boston University Police are on patrol within the BU campus.”
Kramer didn’t assume the shooting was related to the bombing, but news reports would soon tell her otherwise. She turned on the television to see they weren’t covering anything yet.
She turned to the Internet and began to follow those that had been monitoring police scanners and were translating details.
As the morning wore on, all you could hear was sirens going down the street, Kramer recalled. “There would be a pause and then more sirens,” she said. “It was really crazy.
“Here you are sitting in your apartment, hearing all these sirens, it’s just started getting light out and you have no idea what the day will bring.”
Throughout the week there had been so many rumors, Kramer said it was hard to tell what real news was.
With news crews in Watertown, the seriousness of the text alert and demands to stay indoors had become very real.
The shootout involving the suspects and police seemed like something out of a “James Bond” movie, though.
“Not something that was happening in Watertown,” she said.
Kramer’s apartment is about a half mile from the explosions and just a couple miles from Watertown. She lives on the border of Brookline and Boston Proper on Boston University’s campus.
“It’s really unnerving to think that right exactly where you live these things are happening,” she said.
When the television news caught up with the Internet, there were constant reports telling everyone to “stay indoors, don’t open your windows, stay away from your windows, close them, lock them put the shades down,” Kramer said.
“That was really scary. You weren’t even able to look outside and see what was happening.”
The reports didn’t stop all activity. Some were photographed outside walking their dogs. But in the background of these photos, the streets were eerily empty.
“It looked like a ‘Day After Tomorrow’ thing,” Kramer said in reference to the movie.
Eventually the school was called and another text message was sent. This one asked students to stay indoors until further notice.
“Please pay attention to your email, text messages and phone, and stay connected to the local news,” the alert read. “If you need to talk about what is going on, we will have resources available via telephone and in the residences so that you do not need to leave your area.”
The alert also stated: “Please stay alert and keep your eye on BU Today and the University’s official social media accounts for further updates.”
Kramer said her fear mounted throughout the day.
“I don’t think anyone in the entire city had done anything except watch the news,” she said. “Everything was closed; the only thing you could do is sit in your house and watch the television. I was thinking to myself, how long is this going to go on. A week? Months?”
Then news broke on the Internet of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s capture Friday night.
“As soon as that happened, people burst out of their apartments,” Kramer said. There were people streaming through the streets. People were blasting music out of their windows.
“It was such a tremendous change from even just a minute ago.”
Kramer, a resident advisor, said she stood outside just watching the city come back to life.
“People were walking in groups and chanting, ‘We are Boston,’” she said.
Bombing rocked Boston’s world
Kramer, in her second year of law school, had been at home studying earlier in the week when the bombing took place. She got a text from a friend in Florida with the news.
Kramer had friends running in the marathon. She had friends working in the medical tent. She had friends who went to watch it.
“I had thoughts of terror for the people I knew that were there, close to where it happened,” she said. “I just frantically tried to text messaging everyone. The phone service wasn’t working.”
It would be hours before she would know all her friends were fine, but her city was not.
“It was really sad,” she said. “It was scary to see. This is the one day of the year when Boston essentially shuts down and everyone comes together. It crazy to think that on that day someone would want to ruin it.”
Boston University resumed classes on Tuesday, but it was somber as one graduate student had been killed and another university student had been seriously injured.
Kramer will graduate in the spring of 2014. Her goal is to practice public interest law in the area of affordable housing and homelessness.
This week her attention on that goal has been distracted. There were memorial services and celebrations of people’s lives amid rumors and reports of suspicious packages and backpacks. There was also a moment of silence exactly one week to the minute after the bombing.
Kramer was on the subway when a conductor announced the city was again shutting down. This time it was for a moment of silence.
Kramer, former Star News intern, shares her experience
Special to the Star News
It’s difficult for me to organize my thoughts right now as I scan the TV news and six different news websites, hoping for accurate updates. It feels like we are extras in a bad action-thriller film. All we have are questions and sirens screaming down the street.
Today, our law enforcement officials are begging citizens to stay inside with locked doors and begging business owners not to open. Schools are closed, activities are canceled. No cars or people are visible on the streets except the never-ending stream of police cruisers and ambulances.
Today, as we did on Monday, we care for our loved ones. Unable to send even a text message for hours on Monday because the cellphone towers were flooded, we pressed “send” over and over, hoping to connect. We needed to know whether our families and friends were safe and reassure them of our own safety.
And yet, in these same moments of uncertainty, we saw our police, firefighters, emergency medical services and ordinary people rushing forward to help those who were harmed in the explosions. Student medical volunteers who had planned to relieve runners’ muscle cramps and administer a few IVs found themselves applying bandages, giving comfort and helping frantic people contact their families. The people of Boston opened their doors wide to share food, water and landline phone service with those trapped in Copley.
In the face of these senseless acts of violence, the people of this resilient city had the good sense to support each other. Today, we reach out to our loved ones and encourage them to seek shelter and stay safe. We keep Boston law enforcement officials in our thoughts this week and we hope this situation can end without further loss of life.
We are proud of our city and we are ready for this week to be over. We are ready to help each other heal.
Kramer’s reaction to news of second suspect’s capture:
Now that they have captured the second suspect, I feel a tremendous sense of relief, a tangible relaxing of tension from the city around me. After 16 hours of intense focus on the news, Bostonians can begin to focus on recovery.
I would love to know what thoughts and experiences influenced Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to act in this way. I believe that how the United States justice system treats this young man and how our leaders and spokespeople treat his religion and ethnicity will speak to our merit as a nation. Our law enforcement officials have demonstrated incredible courage this week. I urge our nation to seize this chance to show the world the power of our compassion and our justice as well.
(Editor’s note: Kramer is a 2007 Elk River High School graduate. She is a Boston University School of Law J.D. candidate for the spring of 2014 and is involved in the civil litigation program. She is also the executive editor of the BU Public Interest Law Journal and the media manager for the BU chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.)