The Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer shot and killed Thursday night has been identified as Sean Collier of Somerville, a 26-year-old who has strong Wilmington ties.
According to the Middlesex District Attorney’s office, Collier worked for MIT Police since January 2012 and was previously a civilian employee for the Somerville Police Department.
Police said that at 10:20 p.m. on Thursday night, they received a report of shots fired on the MIT campus in Cambridge. About 10 minutes later, Collier was found shot in his vehicle near Vassar and Main Street.
The shooting began a string of events that led to one of the alleged Boston Marathon bombers being killed in a shootout with police. An MBTA transit officer was also shot and injured and police remained in search of the second suspect as of Friday morning.
MIT Police Chief John DiFava said that Collier was a “dedicated officer who was extremely well-liked by his colleagues and the MIT community,” according to a press release from the District Attorney’s office.
Lou Cimaglia, a Wilmington Board of Selectman member and the town’s Veteran’s Agent, said officials and residents are grieving the loss of Collier, who was a graduate of the Wilmington High School Class of 2004 according to several school officials.
“We offer condolences to the family and send out our prayers,” said Cimaglia. “This is another example of the military and police who are willing to put their lives on the line to save us. These guys are on the front line trying to protect us.”
Cimaglia said it is his understanding that Collier’s family still lives in Wilmington and said he expects the community to rally around them.
“It really hits home now, and shows that this can happen anywhere. This reign of terror has reached out and touched Wilmington,” said Cimaglia. “Wilmington, as we always do, will step up and mourn with the family and help them through these trying time. Wilmington is a unique community and we rally around our own.”
In a prepared statement, Salem State University officials confirmed that Collier graduated from the school with honors with a criminal justice degree in 2009.
“We are deeply saddened to learn that Sean Collier, a member of Salem State’s class of 2009, was killed last night in the line of duty,” the statement said. “Our thoughts and sympathy go out to Sean’s family as well as all those affected by the recent tragic events in Boston.”
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12:38 p.m.: Massachussetts Institute of Technology officials have released a statement on Collier's death, including thoughts from MIT President L. Rafael Reif.
“The loss of Officer Collier is deeply painful to the entire MIT community,” said 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.”
According to and article on the Huffington Post, Somerville Police Lt. William Rymill described Collier as a young and eager police officer.
"He was an all-around great person," Rymill said, according to the Huffington Post. "He is going to be greatly, sorely missed."
12:58 p.m.: According to the Boston Globe and several other media outlets, the Collier family issued a statement early this afternoon.
“We are heartbroken by the loss of our wonderful and caring son and brother, Sean Collier,” the Collier family said in the statement. “Our only solace is that Sean died bravely doing what he committed his life to – serving and protecting others. 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.”
2:30 p.m.: Wilmington resident Matt MacEachern told Wilmington Patch that he graduated from Wilmington High School with Collier in 2004.
"He was a great kid, he would come play cards at my house often, I ate lunch with him frequently in school," said MacEachern. "I wasn't aware that he was working as a police officer, but his family should be very proud of him for doing what he loved. He was a hero."
Via social media, Wilmington resident Paul Rocco also recalled attending school in town with Collier.
"He is a real American hero," said Rocco. "I will be proud to tell my kids someday that I knew him and speak of his heroics."
2:55 p.m.: The USA Today reports that Collier's brother is an employee of NASCAR's Hendrick Motorsports team.
According to the newspaper, Andrew Collier joined Hendrick Motorsports in 2008 and he works as an engine department machinist.
"My thoughts and prayers are with the Collier family," said five-time NASCAR champion driver Jimmie Johnson, according to the USA Today report. "It's the same for all of Hendrick Motorsports. We're one big family. It's sad and unfortunate to see a teammate and his family going through such a tough time."
4:03 p.m.: Wilmington town officials have released a statement offering condolences to Collier's family.
"The Town of Wilmington is mourning the loss of life related to the ongoing enforcement activity tied to the Marathon bombing," a press release said. "The Town offers its condolences, thoughts and prayers to the family during this difficult time and to all the victims and victim's families dramatically impacted by the tragic events of this week."
5:18 p.m.: Among Collier's hobbies was kickball, as according to World Adult Kickball Association vice president Jon Marashall, the slain MIT officer was a player in their league.
"We are heartbroken to learn of the loss of Sean Collier," said Marshall. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his friends, family and all of those who knew Sean. Please take a moment to have those people in your thoughts and prayers as well... Sean vigilantly protected the safety of his community and we want to assure you his sacrifice and memory will not be forgotten. We will use whatever resources we have available to help his family and loved ones."
9:10 p.m.: With the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a week of terror has come to a close in Boston.
"CAPTURED!!! The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won. Suspect in custody," the Boston Police Department tweeted, before following that up with a second message. "In our time of rejoicing, let us not forget the families of Martin Richard, Lingzi Lu, Krystle Campbell, and Officer Sean Collier."
Saturday, 9:19 a.m.: According to a Facebook event page, Wilmington residents have organized a candlelight vigil in memory of Sean Collier for Saturday night.
The event is scheduled to take place at 7:30 p.m. on Town Common.