Sean Collier, then a civilian at the Somerville Police Department, where he worked in information technology for five years, had dreamed of becoming a police officer. So he left last year to become a patrol officer at MIT, but his name still floated to the top of the list for consideration as a cop in Somerville.
When his former colleagues there heard that he had been killed in a shootout Thursday night with the alleged Boston Marathon bombers, they were "devastated."
"All the girls and dispatchers can't stop crying," Lt. William Rymill of the Somerville Police said. "It's a real shock to us. He was not liked, he was loved.
"We have lost a member of the family," he added.
Collier, 26, was found in his car at about 10:20 p.m. Thursday night at the corner of Vassar Street and Main Street in Cambridge, on the MIT campus, authorities said. He was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital with multiple gunshot wounds, where he was pronounced dead.
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One of Collier's police academy colleagues, MBTA officer Richard H. Donahue Jr., 33, was injured hours later, when police pulled over a carjacked vehicle with the alleged bombing suspects. Donahue, who's from Woburn, was wounded with a critical wound to the thigh, according to the Boston Globe.
He is reportedly in stable condition.
Collier and Donahue were "actually really good friends" who graduated from the same 26-member MBTA Police Academy class together three years ago, Milton Police officer Michael Delaney told the Boston Herald.
"It's bizarre," Delaney said. "To take two of them out of there, it's a decent percentage."
Donahue was a devoted father to this 7-month-old son, according to the Globe. He and his wife, Kimberly, had moved to Somerville about a year ago.
Collier was a 2004 graduate of Wilmington High School and received a criminal justice degree and graduated with honors from Salem State University in 2009, The Boston Herald reported.
MIT remembered Collier for his devotion to police work and to students.
"Sean was one of these guys who really looked at police work as a calling," MIT Police Chief John DiFava said in a prepared release. "He was born to be a police officer."
DiFava said Collier was closely involved with MIT's student population and was active in the university's outing clubs, accompanying them skiing and hiking.
Before arriving at MIT in January of 2012, Collier was technical adviser to the Somerville police and had a "vast knowledge" of computers, Lt. Rymill said.
"He was an unbelievably smart person and would drop anything he was doing to help us," he said. "I used to joke that I was as computer literate as my shoe. Officers would call him with problems on the phone and he would say, 'I'll swing by the house and look at in on my way to work.'"
Even though Collier served in a civilian capacity at the department, he had been eager to serve as a full police officer, Rymill told ABCNews.com. He was not married and lived in Somerville. He reportedly grew up in Wilmington, Mass.
Collier was active in the department's auxiliary unit. He was also a "full-fledged" trained officer from the MBTA Police Academy, where Donahue had been trained.