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Locals share in relief that the manhunt is history

After a tense day in Watertown, beginning with gunshots and explosions a block away from her apartment in the early morning and continuing with circling helicopters, SWAT team barricades and a police sweep through their apartment building, Corrina Steward and her husband took advantage of the end of the driving ban Friday evening.

“Once they lifted the ban on driving, we actually took the opportunity to leave — we were going down to a wedding, those plans were already in the works and we were hoping it could still happen,” said Steward, a professor at Greenfield Community College.

“Just as we were leaving our apartment, they had figured out where he was and there was obviously this escalation of activity in the neighborhood that we were hearing, we heard gunshots I guess some of it was flash grenades, we were just on a race to get out of the house because we were concerned they were going to lock us down again,” Steward said.

Steward and husband Antonio Horta were driving on Route 2, bound for Northfield, when they heard the manhunt was over.

Steward said she is relieved life can begin to return to normal, but the jubilation didn’t resonate with her.

“Overall, I just feel like it’s been an entirely tragic event, so I didn’t personally feel a deep sense of relief or anything, except being able to leave our neighborhood. I’m glad, I guess, that the process can move forward now there’s been an arrest,” Steward said. “Now I suppose we can move on and some healing can begin but we’re a long way from that, it feels like to me, and a long way from understanding why, on all levels, why this occurred.”

On the other side of Boston, in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood, Christina O’Connor said her experience was probably no different than that of the Franklin County residents who, like her, followed the manhunt on television.

“I’m relieved just like everyone else is after the kind of terror of Thursday night that there wasn’t more loss of life,” said O’Connor, a 1995 graduate of Mahar Regional School.

Matthew Cavanaugh, a freelance photographer from Greenfield, covered the manhunt for the European Pressphoto Agency and The Washington Post.

Cavanaugh ended up in Cambridge, rather than Watertown, where he photographed the scene as police searched the suspect’s house.

“I’ve covered a lot of crazy stuff,” said Cavanaugh, who covered the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings and Hurricane Katrina. “This was a little different, so close to home, in a city I know pretty well. Quite a scene. Cambridge was a little crazy, lots of people being evacuated, a lot of police with guns out.”

In the late afternoon Friday, he drove around Boston’s mostly empty streets, then returned home as the manhunt drew to a close.

“It was a long week, it felt really good to get home and see my kids before they went to bed,” he said. “Right after I put them to bed, I turned the TV on and saw that they captured the suspect. I was really relieved.”

Cavanaugh said there is talk of a parade in honor of the police and first responders involved, and he hopes he will be able to cover it.

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