The UMass Dartmouth campus closed abruptly today after school officials realized the man being sought as the Boston Marathon bomber is a student at the Southeastern Massachusetts school.
On its webpage, the school posted a stark message: “UMass Dartmouth has learned that a person being sought in connection with the Boston Marathon bombing has been identified as a student registered at UMass Dartmouth. The campus is closed. Individuals on campus should shelter in place unless instructed otherwise.”
In a telephone interview, Pamala Rolon, a UMass Dartmouth senior at and a resident assistant at the Pine Dale dorms, said she knew Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for the past year and finds it incredulous that he played any role in the bombs at the Boston marathon.
“He studied. We hung out with me and my friends,” she said Friday morning. “I’m in shock.”
Rolon, 22, said the 300 or so students at the dorm were evacuated this morning by school authorities.
Rolon said when she returned from class Thursday afternoon, she and her friends watched the television news broadcast showing the images of the suspects, including one that she did think looked faintly like the sophomore student she knew on campus.
“We made a joke like – that could be Dzhokhar,” she said. “But then we thought it just couldn’t be him. Dzhokhar? Never.”
Rolon said the 19-year-old studied marine biology, and was quite studious. She did say that he was not seen on campus over the past two weeks, although she didn’t think much about it because everyone was busy with tests and studying.
Rolon said he finds it impossible to believe he was involved in any zealous religious or political cause, or would turn to violence.
“I think he’s Muslim, but not so religious,” she said. “He’s a normal city kid.”