Sean Collier, the 26-year-old MIT police officer killed Thursday night–allegedly by the Boston Marathon bombing suspects–is being remembered as a dedicated worker who loved the outdoors and cared deeply about the university’s student population. “We send our prayers to the Collier family,” said President Obama. “He died bravely in the line of duty.”
“We are heartbroken by the loss of our wonderful and caring son and brother… Our only solace is that Sean died bravely doing what he committed his life to–serving and protecting others,” the Collier family said in a statement released Friday. “We are thankful for the outpouring of support and condolences offered by so many people. We are grieving his loss and ask that the media respect our privacy at this time.”
Collier was “one of these guys who really looked at police work as a calling,” MIT police chief John DiFava said in a statement.
Collier was involved in the MIT Outing Club, where he participated with students in outdoor activities like skiing and hiking. “In a very short period of time, it was remarkable how engaged he was with students, particularly graduate students,” added DiFava, noting he was “extremely well liked by his colleagues and the MIT community.”
The Outing Club created an online page to share memories of Collier.
“Sean cared a lot about his job, and he cared intensely about people; he worked long hours, but always made time to stop and chat. He was incredibly easy-going and friendly, and we’d talk regularly – about life, and the world, or just being silly…Sean: I miss you so, so much already,” one wrote.
“He knew I was watching the marathon on Monday and was one of the first people to text me to make sure I was okay,” said another.
Collier, originally from Wilmington, Mass., was single and had worked for the Somerville Police Department IT department before joining the MIT police in January 2012. He majored in criminal justice at Salem State University and graduated in 2009.
“The loss of Officer Collier is deeply painful to the entire MIT community,” said MIT President L. Rafael Reif. “Our thoughts today are with his family, his friends, his colleagues on our police force and, by all accounts, the many other members of our community who knew him. This is a senseless and tragic loss.”
At 10:20 p.m. on Thursday, there were reports of gunshots on the university’s campus in the area of Vassar and Main Streets. Authorities said Collier was found in his police car and had suffered multiple gunshot wounds. He was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital and was pronounced dead shortly after 10:30 p.m.
The Boston Marathon bombing suspects, brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, stole the officer’s cruiser after shooting him.
According to authorities, the brothers then carjacked a Mercedes SUV and drove toward the Boston suburb of Watertown. The suspects let the owner of the Mercedes go unharmed at a gas station after taking their debit card and stealing $800. During a chase with police, a transit officer, who has been identified as Richard H. Donahue, 33, was seriously injured.
The nature of his injuries have not been disclosed. According to authorities, he underwent surgery at Mount Auburn Hospital.
Joe Pesaturo, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, told msnbc.com that Donahue remains in critical condition and that he has been with the Transit Police for three years. Pesaturo added that Donahue and Collier graduated from the same Municipal Police Officers’ Training Academy class.
Linda Mawn, Donahue’s neighbor, told msnbc.com that the young transit officer is married and has a 6- or 7-month-old baby boy and a pet beagle.
“They are a very nice family. If there’s such thing as an all-American family, this is it–right down to the dog,” said Mawn. “I wish him a full recovery.”
During the stand-off, Tamerlan–the older brother–was injured; he was pronounced dead at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at 1:35 a.m. The younger brother, Dzhokhar, 19, is currently on the loose. Authorities have ordered the entire Boston area to stay indoors as the manhunt continues.