Craig Fahle I
Detroit-area family keeps Watertown
relatives calm and informed during
search for suspect.
Keri Guten Cohen
Story Development Editor
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April 25 • 2013
he Echt family will never
discount the power of social
From 12:37 a.m. Friday, April 19,
and throughout that day, the tele-
phone, Facebook and other forms of
media acted as a lifeline connecting
Linda Echt in the Boston suburb of
Watertown to her family and friends
as police shot and killed one of the two
Boston Marathon bombing suspects
and searched for the other — all in her
It started around 11 p.m. Thursday,
April 18, when Linda, who rarely posts
on Facebook, posted about the MIT
officer who had been killed. Her neph-
ew, Chris Robarge, in another part of
Boston, responded to her Facebook
post that he was listening to his police
scanner and told her about the trouble
at the Watertown 7 Eleven.
"At 12:44 or so, I turned the news off
as I was terribly agitated and had the
feeling something really terrible was
about to happen, in addition to what
had just occurred:' Linda told the JN.
"I quickly went upstairs and woke up
my partner, Jill, and told her about
the killing at MIT. Before I could even
finish telling her we heard rapid and
extremely loud successive gunfire. It
was so loud it sounded like it was at
the bottom of our street.
"I told Jill to get down on the floor
and I, too, hit the floor. I have no idea
why my cell phone was in my hand —
ask any of my family members, I never
have it on me and when I do it isn't
charged — but it was, and I immedi-
ately turned it on and it was that same
Facebook post, Linda, 12:46: "I
just heard many gun shots near me:'
Facebook post, Linda, 12:47: "Still
hearing many gun shots and explo-
sions! At 12:48 by some miracle my
Facebook post, Chris, 12:48:
"Reports of shots fired in Watertown.
They just referenced Dexter Ave. Lock
your doors, stay inside, and be careful!
"Dexter is a few short blocks from
our house Linda said. "The gun shots
and explosions sounded like they were
coming closer to us. Our house shook
with each explosion:'
Robin Echt Axelrod in Ann Arbor
Noah, Eva, Linda Echt and Jill
was sleeping soundly when her terri-
fied sister called.
"Linda has always been the most
even-keeled person, very calm in the
face of an emergency:' Axelrod said.
"When she called around 1:30 a.m., her
voice was uncharacteristically nervous,
rattled. She had no cell and no TV. She
said this might be her last phone call
and she wanted family to know what's
going on. I told her we're going to stay
on the phone until it's over:'
Robin didn't let go of that phone
until nearly 5 a.m.
She learned that Linda, her part-
ner, Jill, and their son Noah, 12, and
daughter Eva, 2, had not gone to watch
the Boston Marathon, but now were
part of the tragic drama anyway, holed
up on the floor in a hallway with no
windows in their Watertown home.
Linda told Robin she had heard gre-
nade explosions and gunfire as well as
the helicopters flying so low over their
homes searching for suspects. She
also said her nephew was feeding her
information from his police scanner,
but she was only getting delayed mes-
sages because she didn't want to use
her cell phone. Robin became the con-
duit for information both ways as she
juggled between her cell phone, iPad,
Facebook connection and TV news.
"It was odd, watching TV, seeing my
sister's familiar neighborhood, commu-
nicating with Chris, who I'd never met,
relaying what's going on to my sister —
bringing it full circle," Robin said.
Boston Bombings on page 26