The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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April 19, 2013

Boston terror hits home again for local native

JOHNSTOWN — Sam Zimmerman thought terrorism hit close to home when the Boston Marathon bombings occurred a few blocks from his Subway commute on Monday.

But a shooting Thursday night at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the ensuing chase brought the case, almost literally, to his doorstep.

Zimmerman, a Stoystown native and 2008 North Star graduate, lives in Cambridge, a suburb of Boston that is located between MIT and Watertown, where the chase ended. Zimmerman’s late-night commute took him through the area where a shootout took place between police and the bombing suspects, who the FBI has identified as Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, brothers from a Russian region near Chechnya.

He was unaware of the shootings at MIT until he got home. Shortly afterward, he thinks the suspects and police raced through his neighborhood.

“Within a minute or two, there were cop cars, just siren after siren after siren on my road,” he said. “I heard something – I couldn’t tell if it was a high-powered assault rifle or grenade or what. Something went through my area.”

Zimmerman thinks the sound might have been an improvised explosive device, which various reports have said the brothers tossed from the car during the chase.

“I feel like I know what a gun sounds like or an assault rife,” he said.” It didn’t sound as sharp. It sounded muffled, kind of a like a firework.”

Zimmerman said that there might have been other gunshots or explosions as well, but that one stood out to him.

“One I heard clearly,” he said. “I wasn’t listening for it, and over the sirens it was hard to hear. There was a break in the sirens and it was loud and clear. An explosion sound.”

Zimmerman spoke via cellphone from his home, which was part of a police-enforced lockdown this morning.

“I thought, wow, I cut that one a little close,” he said. “It was very difficult to go to sleep. Not only was there tons and tons of sirens, but there was a really loud beeping sound, like a cop was on his radio. There were sirens all night long, there were helicopters all night long. I was definitely in the thick of things – and still am.”

 

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