Students at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth gathered on campus Monday evening for a vigil in remembrance of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings and in support of each other.
The gathering came at the end of the first day of classes for students since the campus was evacuated Friday when authorities realized bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was enrolled at the school.
The vigil was planned by students and led by students. It included song and reflection.
"We understand the best way to combat these attacks is by standing together, by standing in unison, by showing support and by just caring for each other," Marven Hyppolite told the gathering. "In the face of uncertainty, we came together as a community."
Some students realized Tsarnaev had been in class with them all semester.
"Actually, realized this past class that he was part of our 9 a.m. class. So, it's a kind of scary thing to think about. But relieved to know he's captured and we're safe at school," student Andrew White said.
White said Tsarnaev would have been in his first class this morning, political science, and that the terror suspect ended up being the subject of that class.
"Big discussion if he deserves his Miranda rights and if he should be treated as enemy combatant. The entire class based kind of solely around him," White said.
A university official re-iterated Monday the school is safe and confirmed they have information Tsarnaev was on campus after the bombings, before he was arrested.
"He was like, ‘Yeah, tragedies happen, man. These things happen around the world. It's crazy,'" Zach Bettencourt remembered Tsarnaev saying. "He seemed very nonchalant. He didn't seem nervous or anything."
"Just to think that he could come back and act so normal and nobody notice anything," student Amanda Mendes said.
Normalcy is what students are striving for as they return to campus, leaning on each other and, if needed, the university said counselors and clergy will be made available.
"We're such a close campus. All the teachers contacted us. If you need any help, we're here. It's a great community that we live in," Mendes said.
The campus also paused for a moment of silence at 2:50 p.m. to mark the time the first bomb went off one week ago.
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