04/19/2013 10:10 EDT | Updated 06/19/2013 05:12 EDT

Canadians describe lockdown in Massachusetts manhunt

Several Canadians are in lockdown while U.S. law enforcement conducts a massive manhunt for a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings.

Jessica Nordgren is a Canadian woman who is visiting inlaws in Watertown.

"It was more scary [Thursday] night," Nordgren told CBC News on Friday afternoon. "At first, I thought nothing of it."

However, she looked out her doors and saw "15-20 police cars" and "police checking dumpsters."

She, her husband, and two kids have been inside since.

"It's hard to explain to a two-year-old why they can't go outside and play," she said.

Harvard students staying put

Two Harvard students are among those staying indoors as the search widens.

Bud Sambasivam is originally from Saskatchewan but lives with his wife and daughter in Cambridge, Mass., while he studies at Harvard.

“It’s a bit unsettling. But I feel safe because we’re locked up at home," Sambasivam said from his third-floor apartment. “We’ve got the TV running with the newsfeed in the background and the computer running.”

Police were planning what they described as a "controlled explosion" in Cambridge on Friday.

“It puts fear back in people and shakes our existence a bit," Sambasivam said the entire week's events. “There’s a lot of sadness and fear."

Sambasivam said he's been in contact with family back in Saskatchewan throughout the day Friday.

- Listen to Bud Sambasivam describe the situation from his Cambridge, Mass., apartment.

Mike Ferrato is a University of Windsor graduate studying chemistry on an exchange at Harvard.

"I woke up [at 7:15 a.m.] and I was bombarded with information. I was confused, at first," Ferrato said.

He said he awoke to text messages from friends and family in Windsor, asking if he was safe and inside.

Overnight, U.S. law enforcement began a massive manhunt for two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings.

The Middlesex district attorney said the chaotic scene overnight began with the fatal shooting of a campus police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

Police then focused their attention on a second suspect in nearby Boston suburb Watertown.

"I went online and found out what was going on. I was pretty lucky some people decided to contact me because my routine is just to wake up and walk to school," Ferrato said. "It’s kind of weird it’s taking place right around this area."

Ferrato said he didn't notice much police presence outside his off-campus apartment but said the streets "are dead."

All of Boston is on virtual lockdown. Public transit and cab service has been postponed.

"Up until [Thursday night] there hadn’t been anything out of the ordinary," Ferrato said. "To be very close to it, puts a different spin on it."

The suspects' aunt, Maret Tsarnaeva of Toronto, claims they are innocent and says the FBI has no evidence other than pictures of the two young men walking on street near the finish line.

Ferrato used to live four blocks from the site of the bombings. He said they "caused quite a stir in our lab" on Monday.

"To actually be familiar with the area under attack put a personal feel to it for me," he said.

The map below shows where Mike Ferrato is in relation to Thursday night's events.

A group Quebec students are sitting tight in a hotel 40 kilometres north of Watertown and Cambridge.

The Beaconsfield High School band seniors left Montreal on Thursday and were to to take part in a music competition in Boston this weekend.

The students are now staying in a hotel in Danvers, Mass.

"They're in no danger and they're all very calm," said Suanne Stein-Day, the chair of the Lester B. Pearson school board. "They've organized their schedule to stay away from the city core where the marathon was run and they have to stay in the hotel complex today while things are still a little bit unsettled in the area."

Concerned parent

Frank Favot, also of Windsor, has two daughters living and working in Massachusetts.

His daughter Sarah is "a 15-minute walk" from Watertown, Favot said.

"She's feeling very uptight and nervous. Sleep is not easy to come by," Favot said.

Favot has spoken with Sarah and his other daughter Heather, a reporter covering the events for the Lowell Sun, a newspaper located 20 minutes north of Boston.

Favot said she's not "at the scene of the manhunt" right now but has been covering this week's events.

"I was oblivious to everything until this morning," Favot said. "I was shocked that this is happening so close to where my two daughters live. I'm very nervous."

Email from Harvard:

Dear Harvard community members:

I trust that you have already received a Harvard Alert informing you that the University is closed due to the ongoing public safety situation in our area.

Law enforcement officials are searching a wide area not far from the Cambridge/Allston campus for an armed and dangerous suspect who they believe participated in the bombings at the Boston Marathon on Monday. Public transportation across Greater Boston has been suspended.

In consideration of the manhunt that is underway, we are asking members of the Harvard community to remain home from work and classes today. For personnel whose duties include health, safety or other critical operations, we ask that you check in with your supervisors to ensure that those functions can continue.

Similarly, the Harvard University Police Department is advising community members to stay indoors while the search for the suspect continues.

Please watch for updates.


Katie Lapp Executive Vice President