Mass. Police Officers, K9 Honored for Bravery

Officers who responded to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings were among those honored for their bravery during a ceremony on Beacon Hill Wednesday

Sean Collier, a police officer who authorities say was shot and killed in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, received a posthumous award for bravery during a ceremony Wednesday at which seven other officers who survived a gunbattle with the two suspects also were honored.

Members of Collier's family, including his parents, accepted the George L. Hanna Medal of Honor from Gov. Deval Patrick during an annual Statehouse ceremony recognizing acts of courage by law enforcement officers. Hanna, a state trooper, was killed in the line of duty in 1983.

Police said Collier, a 27-year-old member of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology police department, was shot in his cruiser on the evening of April 18, 2013, after encountering the brothers accused of setting off two pressure-cooker bombs at the finish line of the marathon three days earlier. The bombs killed three people and injured more than 260 others.

Early on the morning of April 19, police tracked a stolen car to Watertown, leading to the chaotic five-minute gunfight during which 270 rounds were fired and the suspects threw makeshift explosive devices at the officers, authorities said.

Richard Donohue, a transit police officer, was wounded in the leg and nearly bled to death. He was among the seven officers who received medals of honor on Wednesday.

"The main thing was standing shoulder to shoulder with some of the greatest cops in the commonwealth ... including the guys who brought terror to an end here and saved my life," a grateful Donohue said after the ceremony.

He said he continues to face challenges in his physical recovery and has yet to fully return to work.

Watertown police Officers John MacLellan, Joseph Reynolds, Timothy Menton and Sgt. Jeffrey Pugliese, along with state trooper Christopher Dumont and MBTA officer Lucas Kitto, also were honored. Authorities credited Pugliese with tackling suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was then run over by the car as his younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, attempted to flee.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev died. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, captured hours later after an intense manhunt, is awaiting trial on federal charges that could bring the death penalty.

Wednesday's ceremony was among many tributes held for police officers and bombing victims in the 20 months since the attack. Donohue, who was a police academy classmate of Collier's, said reliving the events is never easy.

"I'll say one thing: I'm sick of hearing 'Amazing Grace,'" said Donohue, who has kept in contact with Collier's family. "Every time you hear that song you know it's because one of your brothers didn't make it."

Bravery awards were also presented to 17 other officers and one police dog for actions in 2013 unrelated to the marathon bombing.

Ashland Officer Christopher Alberini and his canine partner, Dax, received medals of valor for locating and capturing an armed suspect who was hiding in the attic of a home.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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