Tense time for Tri-Lakers living in Boston

Shock, anger, fear and frustration represent just a sampling of the emotions that Tri-Lakes area natives now living in Boston have experienced in the days since two terrorists detonated a pair of bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Christian Brunelle, James Duprey and Adam O’Neill spoke to the Enterprise Friday afternoon as police continued their search for the younger of two brothers suspected of orchestrating the deadly bombings. Police killed the older brother in a shootout.

Brunelle, 28, graduated from Lake Placid High School in 2003. He now lives in Boston and works as assistant director of admissions at the New England Institute of Art in Brookline, Mass. He spoke to the Enterprise around midday Friday as police searched for the second suspect; he was staying with a friend in Boston’s North End.

Brunelle ran the marathon on Monday. After he finished, he began texting friends and co-workers in hopes of meeting at a restaurant near the finish line. That’s when he heard the first explosion.

“I turned around, and all you could see was a tall pillar of smoke,” Brunelle said. “After the first explosion, I turned to some other runners and asked, ‘What was that?’ No one had any idea. The volunteers were saying, ‘Stay calm, relax, don’t worry about it.'”

Brunelle said he felt nervous but not panicked. He said initially there wasn’t any mass hysteria, but when the second bomb went off, thousands of people began running down the street.

“It was like something out of a movie,” Brunelle said.

Brunelle eventually made his way to a hotel where he waited with a large group of people for about an hour-and-a-half.

“We didn’t really know what was going on the whole time,” he said.

In the days since the bombing, Brunelle said it’s been hard to get back into a normal routine.

“Working at a college, it’s been extremely difficult because no one wants to come into the city,” Brunelle said. “Students are on edge. Professors are on edge. … It seems like a lot of people, up until this morning, were really not sure what the next step was. For everyone I know, work was canceled today; the city was on lockdown.

“In the area of the city I’m in, it seems like people are starting to get out, walk around. It’s a safer feeling up here than it is down there, closer to Cambridge and Boylston Street. Some people are trying to get into a routine, but for some, it’s really difficult to go back to the day-to-day activities.”

O’Neill, 31, grew up in Saranac Lake, graduating from Saranac Lake High School in 1999, and now lives in Winthrop, about 10 minutes from downtown Boston, with his wife Anya. He owns Broga, a yoga and fitness business; Anya oversees marketing and creativity at Lesley University in Cambridge, which was closed on Friday as police continued their manhunt.

Adam and Anya were at home on Monday when the bombings occurred. On Tuesday, Adam had to go downtown for a work-related meeting.

“I’ve now been living in or around Boston for the past 10 years; I love this city,” he said. “I feel very comfortable, always. I never feel any big-city anxiety at all. The Tuesday after the bombings, I went to a meeting at noon about five blocks from the finish line. And for the first time ever, for me, I felt uneasy. I felt apprehensive.

“It just jarred my perspective of everything. Something like this takes the day-to-day relative security that you feel – your trust just gets shattered. It was pretty weird to be in the city I’ve been living in for a long time and to feel nervous. It was a very, very strange feeling, and I resented it a lot. It made me pretty angry, actually.”

Adam said the people he sees on the streets range from somber to visibly upset, with some needing others to console them. Others, he said, are just trying to go about their lives with a sense of normalcy. That’s been the case for Duprey.

Duprey, 31, also graduated from SLHS in 1999. Now he lives in Newton, Mass., a suburb west of Boston, and works at New Balance shoe and clothing company’s headquarters. He said the last week has been unsettling.

“Everyone has kind of experienced the roller coaster of emotions, ranging from fear, anxiety and shock to even some anger that this is happening in your own backyard,” he said.

But beneath the anger and the confusion, all three men say Bostonians have shown their resiliency this week.

“This is a strong community,” Duprey said. “It’s moving. … It’s also surreal. It’s so close to home. You can kind of separate yourself when you see it on television in other places. … I can’t imagine the people that have to live with this level of panic and fear and anxiety on a daily basis.

“Things like this happen in a lot of different places,” Brunelle said. “You just need to keep people in your thoughts and prayers. If you know anyone affected, do all you can to reach out to them.”

O’Neill asked his friends and family in the Tri-Lakes to take a moment to count their blessings.

“There have been so many amazing stories of people helping each other out; it’s a beautiful thing to see,” he said. “It’s horrible such bad things sometimes happen, but when they do it’s amazing the good things that they bring to life. If you have kids, hug them. If you have a wife or a husband, hug them. If you have parents, friends – hug them. Be grateful.”

Contact Chris Morris at 518-891-2600 ext. 25 or