Pittsburgh natives living, visiting in Boston wait out manhunt after bombing

| Friday, April 19, 2013, 2:51 p.m.

Holed up at home under government orders, Bostonians and suburban neighbors conceded they felt uneasy, tense, even somewhat fearful on Friday.

But they showed little outright panic as police helicopters circled above and officers rushed quiet neighborhoods to hunt a second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings on Monday.

“It's a lot like Pittsburgh in that this is a city that prides itself on its toughness. People will bounce back. They'll help their neighbors out,” said Pittsburgh native Constantine Davides, 39, of downtown Boston. “There's a very strong sense of community here.”

Transplanted Western Pennsylvanians living in and near the city described surreal scenes Thursday night and Friday after police killed bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and searched for, and later captured, his brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19.

“I do fear for the Boston area what could come next,” said Jay Snyder, 32, a Carnegie Mellon University alumnus living in suburban Newton, Mass. “It seems at this point like it could be anything.”

Authorities said the Tsarnaev brothers killed an MIT police officer overnight Thursday, threw explosives during a car chase and engaged in a gunbattle with police. The MIT shooting happened just about a 10-minute walk from the Cambridge, Mass., home of Selena Schmidt, 43, a Pittsburgh native who moved to the Boston suburb about 18 months ago.

She has avoided public transportation since the bombing that killed three people and injured more than 180, she said.

“Today's almost scarier because it's right there in our neighborhoods,” she said Friday afternoon, taking a break from Twitter and other news reports. “It's not some giant public event.”

Schmidt heard sirens overnight Thursday. Minutes away in another suburb, Watertown, Tom Evans awoke to a more unusual sound.

“I'm pretty sure it was the (explosive) device that went off” during a police confrontation, said Evans, 40, who grew up in Kennedy. “It was just a strange, thud sound that was out of place.”

For the rest of the night, he said, he heard a helicopter hovering over his home on the east end of Watertown and the sirens of police cars as they zoomed past.

About 1 a.m., he received an automated call from Watertown police ordering him to stay inside and not answer the door. People in his neighborhood obeyed orders to stay home as a helicopter lingered overhead.

“Police have been patrolling and checking all the side streets,” said Evans, who acknowledged feeling unnerved. “I look out my window, and I can see all sorts of (law enforcement) people.”

TribLIVE Radio host Ken Laird, 34, of Irwin has been visiting all week in the Boston suburb of Brookline. Glued to TV news coverage of the manhunt Friday, he said only occasional pedestrians and cars passed down neighborhood streets.

It was eerie as National Guard equipment rumbled through town, Laird said.

“I haven't felt unsafe. It's just on edge,” he said. “When you go out, you're thinking about things a lot more. You're looking around. Obviously, today it's been more cabin fever — trying to watch the news footage.”

Back in Cambridge, Schmidt said the Tsarnaev brothers from a Russian region near Chechnya would not have stood out in her neighborhood, a working-class area of diverse ethnic backgrounds.

“It's one of the best parts about being here: Literally people from all over the world are right next to you. They're your neighbors,” said Schmidt, who lamented “a hurt in the soul of the city.”

“I don't think this is a Boston-particular problem,” she said of the attacks. “This is a time-in-history problem.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Adam Smeltz and Amanda Dolasinski are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Reach Smeltz at 412-380-5676 or asmeltz@tribweb.com. Reach Dolasinski at 724-836-6220 or adolasinski@tribweb.com.

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