A number of people with ties to Berks County are finding themselves prisoners in their own Boston-area homes as police search for the marathon bombing suspect.
Nancy Hoover, her husband Russ, a Laureldale native, and their two daughters, were actually in Berks County to visit loved ones when the bombings at the Boston Marathon happened Monday. They returned to their home in the Boston suburb of Watertown around 6 p.m. Thursday, just before a long night of violence involving the two bombing suspects began.
"Suddenly around 1:00 in the morning, between 1:00 and 1:30, I started hearing about 50 to 100 shots. It sounded like fireworks, and I heard two explosions and many, many policemen heading toward Watertown," said Hoover. "A very scary situation at 1:00 in the morning when you don't know what is going on."
Of course, the Hoover family isn't alone in enduring the ordeal. The entire Boston area is under a lockdown as police search for the remaining suspect.
"There are helicopters over this town, and we hear police officers just going door-to-door making sure people are safe," said Hoover.
The family's home is located just a few blocks away from the command post where the city's police commissioner, Ed Davis, held a news conference earlier, telling everyone in Boston to stay inside their homes.
Davis' instructions followed a string of violent incidents believed to have involved the two bombing suspects, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The brothers are suspected of killing a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer on campus in Cambridge late Thursday, then stealing a car at gunpoint and later releasing its driver unharmed.
There was a shootout with authorities during which explosives were thrown at police, the sounds of which Hoover said she heard from her home in Watertown. A transit police officer was severely wounded.
"I peaked out my backdoor. I immediately shut the door, knowing that something was terribly wrong and turned on the television to find out that there were two armed suspects in my town, shooting at police officers," said Hoover, formerly of Lancaster. "It was very scary."
One of the suspects, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed; the other, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was believed to be on the loose in Watertown. He reportedly lives just down the street from a theater where Brittney Hardick, of Phillipsburg, Warren Co., N.J., said she works part-time.
Hardick, 26, lives in the suburb of Somerville. She said her whole routine has been turned upside down by the events of this week and Friday morning.
"I honestly thought that other than finding the guys that this was over after Monday," said Hardick. "I didn't think that it was going escalate to this. I thought they would eventually find them, take them into custody and that would be that. I had no idea that they were going to go on a rampage through Boston."
Adrian Grieve traveled to Boston to set up a family assistance center with the American Red Cross of Berks County. He said Boston is a ghost town and a city on edge.
"The city of Boston is fairly quiet, so it's eerie walking around the streets, and there's an extremely high law enforcement presence everywhere you go," said Grieve.
Hoover told 69 News she is worried about nightfall, and thought Dzhokhar could be waiting until dark to make his next move.
The suspects' clashes with police began only a few hours after the FBI released photos and videos of the two young men, who were seen carrying backpacks as they mingled among revelers at Monday's Boston Marathon.
The bombings killed three people and wounded more than 180 others, and authorities revealed the images to enlist the public's help finding the suspects.
The suspects were identified to The Associated Press as coming from the Russian region near Chechnya, which has been plagued by an Islamic insurgency stemming from separatist wars.