The manhunt for Dzhokhor Tsarnaev began late Thursday evening after 26-year-old MIT campus police officer Sean Collier was found shot to death in his vehicle. The ensuing gunfight in Watertown that killed his older brother and accomplice, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, also left 33-year-old MBTA officer Richard Donohue in critical condition. Now that the lockdown on Boston has lifted and Dzhokhor is in custody, the city has begun mourning Collier and pulling for Donohue — two men who graduated together from the same MBTA Transit Police Academy Class in 2010 and who remained friends, according to the New York Times.
Collier was a “promising young officer” who had been on the MIT force for a little more than a year. Somerville Police Lieutenant William Rymill told the Boston Globe that he was likely to be offered a job at the Somerville Department this summer. He even bought a new pickup truck in preparation. MIT Police Chief John DiFava — who had hoped Collier would stay with his own department — said on Friday that, “Besides this being absolutely heart wrenching, it’s also a tremendous loss of a huge talent.”
In a statement, Collier’s family expressed their grief:
We are heartbroken by the loss of our wonderful and caring son and brother, Sean Collier. 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.
Donohue, Collier’s former classmate, was also out on patrol Thursday night when the Tsarnaev brothers arrived in Watertown and threw explosives from a carjacked vehicle. The 33-year-old father was seriously injured, though he is reportedly now in stable condition at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge. Donohue’s family issued a statement through Tufts Medical Center, where his mother is a nurse, saying:
We thank the people of Boston and the nation for the prayers and support they are sending to Richard and to our family. 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. Richard remains in serious condition so we are focused on supporting him; please respect our privacy. We will not be responding to any media requests at this time …We send our condolences and prayers to the family of Sean Collier, Richard’s friend and fellow law enforcement training classmate. We ask that you pray for Sean’s family.
Meanwhile, Collier is also remembered fondly by MIT — especially the school’s Outing Club, whose members have created a memorial website recalling his “adorable” pride in his new pickup truck, his kindness, and his devotion to the school community: “We will miss your laughter, your jokes, your excitement, and most of all your genuine love of life. You were a good friend and will be remembered for a long time. Thank you for the service you have done to everyone — to me, to my friends, to MIT, and to the world. You are a hero,” wrote one poster.