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N.H. native describes a long, frightening night in Watertown

Jessica Weil switched on her television shortly after 1 a.m. this morning to what she described as a shocking, surreal image: a massive police shootout taking place at the end of her street.

The 26-year-old Peterborough native has lived for a year in Watertown, Mass., which has become the epicenter of a deadly manhunt for the second suspect in Monday’s bombings at the Boston Marathon. She had just been woken by a call from a friend who said she’d heard authorities were pursuing two armed suspects near Weil’s apartment, just west of Cambridge.

Weil and her housemate got up and made sure the doors to their apartment were locked, sliding a chair under the doorknob of one just to be safe. They then turned on their television and flipped to a news channel showing live coverage of the event.

“And I was looking at it and I realized, ‘Okay, I recognize that restaurant,’ ” Weil said this morning. A funeral home depicted on the screen also seemed familiar. She soon realized that the chaos she was watching was unfolding roughly a three-minute walk from her home.

“It was just sort of a terrifying moment to wake up and see this was happening so close by,” Weil said in a phone interview from her home, where she and others have been in lockdown all morning and into the afternoon.

Weil looked out her window but couldn’t hear much, she said. All she could see were flashing lights from what she assumed were police vehicles.

By that point authorities had not linked the shootout suspects to the bombings, Weil said. When they finally did, her perception of what was going on changed.

“Once I found out it was the bombers it made everything a lot scarier because I knew what they were capable of,” she said. “There were conflicting reports coming out at the time, some saying there might be bombs on the streets in Watertown. It was definitely really scary.”

Around 3 a.m., Weil sent out a Tweet to let friends and family know she was okay. Within minutes she received about a dozen replies, many from people she didn’t know from around the country, people sending thoughts and prayers, telling her to stay safe.

“That really put things in perspective for me, the scale of this whole thing,” she said.

She fell asleep around 6 a.m. and woke up about two hours later, a slew of text messages and voice mails waiting on her phone. An email from a boss told her and others to work from home for the day. Weil is a web content writer.

Since then it’s been “a lot of sitting and waiting,” she said.

The police were searching homes nearby but had not come to her apartment, Weil said. She has not been in touch with any of her neighbors.

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