People from Madison area share Boston lockdown experience

Wis. natives in the midst of manhunt for alleged marathon bomber

Published On: Apr 19 2013 10:22:12 PM CDT   Updated On: Apr 21 2013 03:41:32 PM CDT
BOSTON, Mass. -

Natasha Karp was doing her laundry. Around midnight, she headed to her home in Watertown, her clean clothes in hand. When the Madison native arrived home, she heard the unthinkable.

Karp didn’t believe it. She couldn’t believe it.

She thought it was someone who had one too many setting off an early Fourth of July celebration.

Then, Karp’s roommate texted her, telling her to turn on the TV and lock all of the doors.

“I didn't really believe what was happening,” Karp said. “I was commenting to a friend earlier that night how Watertown was a really quiet place. Nothing happens here.”

Karp barely slept, glued to the coverage, and dozed off throughout the night. She woke up Thursday morning to what seemed like new developments every hour. Fully armed and suited SWAT team officers patrolled her backyard.

Karp peeked out of her front porch to see her neighbor try and pull away. The driver was swarmed.

“They turned their car on, and by the time they moved maybe a foot, they were surrounded by four or five state police asking them to stop, asked for identifications, asked to roll down the back windows,” Karp said. “I mean, you can't go anywhere.”

Karp snapped a shot of Boston Commons covered in tanks and military tents before she was forced to stay indoors. It’s a scene that was anything but normal.

“I feel like the city is still in shock,” Karp said.

The lockdown across Boston and a number of the city’s suburbs lasted most of Friday, keeping thousands of people inside of their homes.

One of those neighbors was Harvard graduate student Tim McDonald. McDonald moved from Beaver Dam to Boston, to an apartment facing the street the carjacked vehicle sped down Thursday night. That was the explosive chase that took the two Boston Marathon bombing suspects from an MIT homicide scene to Watertown, Mass.

“One of my friends was telling me there's one car, then there were three cars, and then there were ten police cars,” McDonald explained. “And that's what took them from MIT to Watertown, which is adjacent to Cambridge, probably four miles total or so.

Between the constant police presence and sounds of security, McDonald said the lockdown scene was tense, to say the least.

“They're having a hard time focusing because you hear sirens constantly. Whenever there's a control detonation, you hear an explosion, and it just has people jittered,” McDonald said.

Originally from Montello, Nicole Spillner lives alone in a studio apartment. She admitted fear outweighed faith in many moments. Spillner was particularly scared about the suspect at-large striking again.

“I'm just afraid that they're not going to find this guy before he does something else,” Spillner said before the suspect was captured and taken into custody, “and that he's working with other people who have plans to do something else.”

Spillner said the city was like a ghost town during the lockdown.

“'I’ve never seen the city like this since I've been here, I mean, not even since the blizzard last winter,” Spillner said.

If nothing else, for some of these “Wisconsinites”, it has been a lesson of resilience in a city McDonald said would not quit.

“For me, it gets me thinking about how important it is to be resilient when things like this do happen because the unexpected will happen, and sometimes it will be violent,” McDonald said. “And all we can do is respond to it as well as we can. We can prevent it, but when it does happen, everything is in your response and how people pull together and focus no the positives.”

“Through this crisis, Boston has really been so strong and has really pulled together,” Karp said.

The mandatory lockdown was lifted less than an hour before Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found.