The Washington Post

MIT officer Sean Collier, slain after Boston Marathon bombing, is honored

He was the last casualty, dying days after the others killed in the Boston Marathon bombing.

And on Friday, friends, family and residents of greater Boston came together to insist that Sean Collier, remembered as an outgoing and friendly MIT campus police officer, will not be forgotten.

Hundreds gathered beneath a giant white tent pitched several feet from the intersection where, a year ago Friday, Collier was fatally shot as he sat in his cruiser. Authorities say he was killed by the Tsarnaev brothers, who are accused of carrying out the Boston Marathon bombing.

Collier’s slaying triggered a massive late-night police chase and multi-city manhunt that eventually led to the apprehension of the Tsarnaevs. Tamarlan Tsarnaev died following a shootout with police; Dzhokhar Tsarnarev is awaiting trial.

“Sean was taken from us in a moment of extreme evil, but that instant has never defined how we remember him on this campus,” said Sara Ferry, an MIT graduate student and friend of Collier’s. “When Sean left, love rushed in.”

Speakers noted that the 26-year-old Collier was nearing his goal of becoming an officer with the nearby Somerville police department, but in the meantime had begun taking dance classes on campus — another way to better know the students he was charged with protecting.

As attendees entered the service, they were handed lapel pins that read “MIT Strong,” and signs and pictures in memory of Collier hung in each window of the campus buildings that surrounded the ceremony. Dozens of police officers from numerous law enforcement agencies sat silently as Collier was remembered. Among them was Richard Donohue, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officer who suffered life-threatening wounds during the firefight between officers and the Tsarnaevs that followed Collier’s shooting.

“One year ago, cowards set off bombs at our beloved Boston Marathon, trying to terrorize us. It was not just a momentary terror . . . but a week-long terror. . . . Such terrors can break people’s spirit,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who was one of half a dozen speakers at the ceremony. “But we were fearless. . . . We did not waver. In that moment, when all of the world had its eyes on us, we responded with a cry of defiance, not of fear.”

Moments later, Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) praised the campus’s attitude of love and togetherness. Next, Cambridge Mayor David Maher declared that the intersection where Collier was killed — at Vassar and Main streets — will now be known as Sean Collier Square.

As another way to commemorate Collier, MIT announced a scholarship in his name that will be given to a local police academy recruit each year. A 20-member team — named “Team Collier Strong” — will run the marathon in Collier’s memory on Monday.

“It’s good to know,” said MIT Police Chief John DiFava, as his eyes welled with tears, “that heroes still walk God’s green earth.”

That final word had barely emerged from his lips when the crowd shot up in an ovation that lasted minutes, as a jazz ensemble began to play “Amazing Grace.”

See the full sequence of events in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Wesley Lowery is a national reporter covering law enforcement and justice for the Washington Post. He previously covered Congress and national politics.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
The Republicans debated Saturday night. The New Hampshire primary is Feb. 9. Get caught up on the race.
Highlights from Saturday's GOP debate
Except for an eminent domain attack from Bush, Trump largely avoided strikes from other candidates.

Christie went after Rubio for never having been a chief executive and for relying on talking points.

Carson tried to answer a question on Obamacare by lamenting that he hadn't been asked an earlier question about North Korea.
The GOP debate in 3 minutes
Play Video
We have all donors in the audience. And the reason they're booing me? I don't want their money!
Donald Trump, after the debate crowd at St. Anselm's College booed him for telling Jeb Bush to be "quiet."
Play Video
New Hampshire polling averages
Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in the next state to vote, but Marco Rubio has recently seen a jump in his support, according to polls.
New Hampshire polling averages
A victory in New Hampshire revitalized Hillary Clinton's demoralized campaign in 2008. But this time, she's trailing Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont. She's planning to head Sunday to Flint, Mich., where a cost-saving decision led to poisonous levels of lead in the water of the poor, heavily black, rust-belt city. 
55% 38%
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
State of the race

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.