CAMBRIDGE — Slain Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier was remembered yesterday for his dedication to law enforcement and his love of people as thousands gathered at a campus memorial.
Vice President Joe Biden joined students, faculty, staff and law enforcement officials from across the nation at Briggs Field for the service to honor an officer who was already well-respected by his colleagues and superiors, and popular with students after little more than a year on campus.
Collier, a Salem State University graduate, was fatally shot on April 18, three days after the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people. Authorities say he was shot by brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was charged Monday in his hospital room, where he is in fair condition with a gunshot wound to the throat suffered during his attempted getaway. His brother, 26-year-old Tamerlan, died Friday after a gunbattle with police.
“My heart goes out to you,” Biden told Collier’s family. “I hope you find some solace in this time of extreme grief.”
Biden called the brothers suspected in the bombings and Collier’s killing “two twisted, perverted, cowardly, knockoff jihadis.”
He said he is constantly asked the question of why terrorists do what they do against the U.S.
“I’ve come to conclusion they do it to instill fear,” Biden said. “To have us, in the name of our safety and security, jettison what we value most in the world, our open society, our system of justice that guarantees freedom. ... Our transparency; that’s their target.
“It infuriates them that we refuse to bend, refuse to change, refuse to bend to fear.”
Collier’s casket was positioned in front of the thousands who gathered on a bright, sunny spring day. Music of bagpipes echoed through the field and a large American flag, suspended high about the crowd between two fire department ladder trucks, flapped slowly in the breeze.