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MIT officer killed after Boston Marathon bombing honored

  • Police officers, friends and family members pause by a memorial cross and stone after attending a one-year remembrance ceremony for Massachusetts Institute of Technology Officer Sean Collier on campus in Cambridge, Mass., Friday, April 18, 2014. Authorities say Collier was slain by the suspects of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

    Police officers, friends and family members pause by a memorial cross and stone after attending a one-year remembrance ceremony for Massachusetts Institute of Technology Officer Sean Collier on campus in Cambridge, Mass., Friday, April 18, 2014. Authorities say Collier was slain by the suspects of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

  • This undated photo provided by the Middlesex District Attorney's Office shows Massachusetts Institute of Technology Police Officer Sean Collier, 26, of Somerville, Mass., who was shot to death Thursday, April 18, 2013 on the school campus in Cambridge, Mass. Authorities said surveillance tape recorded late Thursday showed one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects during a robbery of a nearby convenience store before Collier was shot to death while responding to a report of a disturbance. (AP Photo/Middlesex District Attorney's Office)

    This undated photo provided by the Middlesex District Attorney's Office shows Massachusetts Institute of Technology Police Officer Sean Collier, 26, of Somerville, Mass., who was shot to death Thursday, April 18, 2013 on the school campus in Cambridge, Mass. Authorities said surveillance tape recorded late Thursday showed one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects during a robbery of a nearby convenience store before Collier was shot to death while responding to a report of a disturbance. (AP Photo/Middlesex District Attorney's Office)

  • Police officers, friends and family members pause by a memorial cross and stone after attending a one-year remembrance ceremony for Massachusetts Institute of Technology Officer Sean Collier on campus in Cambridge, Mass., Friday, April 18, 2014. Authorities say Collier was slain by the suspects of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
  • This undated photo provided by the Middlesex District Attorney's Office shows Massachusetts Institute of Technology Police Officer Sean Collier, 26, of Somerville, Mass., who was shot to death Thursday, April 18, 2013 on the school campus in Cambridge, Mass. Authorities said surveillance tape recorded late Thursday showed one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects during a robbery of a nearby convenience store before Collier was shot to death while responding to a report of a disturbance. (AP Photo/Middlesex District Attorney's Office)

He was the last casualty, dying days after the others killed in the Boston Marathon bombing.

And yesterday, friends, family and residents of Greater Boston came together to insist that Sean Collier, remembered as an outgoing and friendly MIT campus police officer, will not be forgotten.

Hundreds gathered beneath a giant white tent pitched several feet from the intersection where, a year ago yesterday, Collier was fatally shot as he sat in his cruiser. Authorities say he was killed by the Tsarnaev brothers, who are accused of carrying out the Boston Marathon bombing.

Collier’s slaying triggered a massive police chase and multi-city manhunt that led to the apprehension of the Tsarnaevs. Tamarlan Tsarnaev died following a shootout with the police; Dzhokhar Tsarnarev is awaiting trial.

“Sean was taken from us in a moment of extreme evil, but that instant has never defined how we remember him on this campus,” said Sara Ferry, an MIT graduate student and friend of Collier. “When Sean left, love rushed in.”

Speakers noted that the 26-year-old Collier was nearing his goal of becoming an officer with the nearby Somerville Police Department, but in the meantime had begun taking dance classes on campus – another way to better know the students he was charged with protecting.

As attendees entered the service, they were handed lapel pins that read “MIT Strong,” and signs and pictures in memory of Collier hung proudly in each window of the campus buildings that surrounded the ceremony. Dozens of police officers from numerous law enforcement agencies sat silently as Collier was remembered. Among them was Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Officer Richard Donohue, who suffered life-threatening wounds during the firefight between officers and the Tsarnaevs that followed Collier’s shooting.

“One year ago, cowards set off bombs at our beloved Boston Marathon, trying to terrorize us. It was not just a momentary terror . . . but a weeklong terror. . . . Such terrors can break people’s spirit,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat who was one of half a dozen speakers at the ceremony. “But we were fearless.”

As another way to commemorate Collier, MIT announced a scholarship in his name that will be given to a local police academy recruit each year.

A 20-member team - named “Team Collier Strong” - will run the marathon in Collier’s memory on Monday.

“It’s good to know,” said MIT Police Chief John DiFava, as his eyes welled with tears, “that heroes still walk God’s green earth.”

That final word had barely emerged from his lips when the crowd shot up in an ovation that lasted minutes, as a jazz ensemble began to play “Amazing Grace.”

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