Honoring law enforcement victims of bomb suspect search

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April 20, 2013, 5:26 pm
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(NECN: Jack Thurston, Cambridge, Mass.) - Deputy Chief Mike Cabral of the Somerville Police Department remembered Sean Collier fondly Saturday.

"Sean was warm, gentle, polite," Cabral said. "His dream was to be a Somerville police officer."

Investigators said the 26-year-old Wilmington native was killed Thursday night by the Tsarnaev brothers, the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings. Collier was an officer with the MIT Police Department, where a makeshift memorial to him grew Saturday.

Before MIT, Collier worked his way up from an intern to a records clerk and computer tech for the Somerville Police Department. It was one of the many departments that joined the frantic hunt for the Tsarnaevs late this week.

"When we heard [19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev] was captured, there was a bit of a celebration," Cabral remembered. "A little sense of relief, then you could see people were somber; that they realized it wasn't going to bring Sean back. And now we had to deal with the grieving, the healing process of losing one of our friends."

In a sad coincidence, Collier was friends with the MBTA Transit Police officer severely injured in a shootout in Watertown as the search for the bombing suspects came to an extremely dangerous head. Richard Donohue, 33, and Sean Collier both graduated from the Transit Police's municipal police academy in 2010.

Donohue's health has stabilized and, on Saturday, his loved ones thanked Boston and the nation for their support. In a statement, loved ones wrote, "Please continue to pray for Richard, a wonderful father, husband, son and brother, and a dedicated police officer who loves his work and helping people."

The MBTA Transit Police told media Saturday it was "more than pleased" its SWAT team was the one that handcuffed Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Friday night. Spokesman Joe Pesaturo wrote of the force, "They were absolutely determined to apprehend the terrorist who tried to kill one of their own."

President Obama praised law enforcement officials like Collier and Donohue in his weekly address to the nation, which focused on the response to the attacks on the Boston Marathon.

"We are eternally grateful for the profound sacrifices they make in the line of duty, sometimes making the ultimate sacrifice, to defend the people they've sworn to protect," the President said.

As for the Somerville Police Department, which told NECN it was close to hiring Sean Collier away from MIT, it plans to posthumously dedicate a badge to Collier.

"And that's our way of making Sean a Somerville Police officer for life," Deputy Chief Cabral said.

Tags: mbta transit police, Boston bombings, Sean Collier, MIT Police, Richard Donahue
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