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John Myers, Duluth News Tribune, Published April 19 2013

Duluth native part of lockdown at MIT

Vinnie Surges said he doesn’t get scared very often, but in the chaos of Thursday night in Cambridge, Mass., on the edge of his college campus, he was scared.

Surges, who grew up in Duluth and graduated from St. Scholastica in 2011, is enrolled in the aeronautics and astronautics doctoral program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

This morning, he was still confined to his housing unit in the Kendall Square area until the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing is apprehended.

“It was more just not knowing what exactly was going on or where he was,” Surges said.

Thursday’s night’s dramatic shootout happened about one-third mile from his home “at a place on campus, the Stata Center, that I walk by every day on my way to the office,” Surges told the News Tribune this morning.

“The bombing on Monday was about three-quarters of a mile one way from my house. The shootout last night was about one-third mile from my home the other direction. Everything out here is pretty close together,” Surges said.

Surges said MIT police have been good at keeping students informed about what is going on. Minutes after he heard ambulances and police vehicles heading toward the shootout scene, and then ambulances speeding away from the site, Surges and all other students received an automated phone call from MIT police that there was an active shooter on the loose and an officer down.

The campus, and much of the Boston area, has been on lockdown ever since.

“It’s like a ghost town out there. I can see maybe one or two cars, and normally at this time on a Friday morning it should be jammed with people and cars coming into campus,” Surges said. “They just told us to stay home and stay inside until this is over.”

Surges said the action now appears to have moved to the Watertown area of the Boston metropolitan area, which is a bit farther away.

“Everyone is still on edge. It doesn’t seem like there’s immediate danger here right now,” he said. “But we really don’t know.”

It was still unclear this morning if the second suspect was holed up where police thought he was or whether he had slipped away undetected.

Surges, a runner who often runs by the bombing site, said the tragedy has brought his campus closer together even as they grieve for the victims and wonder where the second suspect is.

“The students really have come together to help each other. Last night I was on Facebook and calling people just to make sure they heard there was a shootout going on, in case they were out for a walk or something,” he said. “It’s been a very intense week.”