Boston Police 'Can't Stop Crying' Over MIT Officer Slain in Shootout

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"He was high up on the list," Rymill said. "He probably could have been in an officer position because his name was up for consideration. Whether he would have decided to leave MIT, I don't know. But it was his dream to be a cop and he took the first opportunity that came up."

Somerville police are right next door to MIT in Cambridge and Collier and his fellow officers had kept "close ties."

"I can tell you he was less than a half-mile away from the station," Rymill said. "Some others in the auxiliary went on to MIT like Sean."

Rymill said Collier loved camping and had recently saved enough money to purchase a new truck, "one he had wanted all his life."

"We are devastated, we have lost family," he said of Collier.

In a letter to MIT parents, university ambulance driver Dylan Soukup, who was one of the first responders at the shooting, said Collier had "one of the biggest, brightest, never-ending smiles."

"There was not a day that we drove by him in his patrol car, saw him walking around campus, or were responding to an emergency call with him that he didn't stop to say hello, talk with us, help us, or at the very least shoot us a big bright smile," he wrote.

NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson of Hendrick Motorsports sent his "thoughts and prayers" to Collier's family when he spoke at a news conference in Kansas City, Kan., today. Collier's brother Andrew is a machinist in the team's engine shop.

" … I certainly know it's the same thing with everyone at Hendrick Motorsports," Johnson said. "We're one big family and it's sad to see a teammate going through this."

Collier's family released a statement today asking for privacy:

"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."

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