CAMBRIDGE — Six months to the day that his life was violently ended by the accused Boston Marathon bombers, about 200 colleagues, allies, and strangers gathered at the crime scene this morning to honor MIT Police Officer Sean Collier with remembrances and a memorial carved of limestone from the university’s Great Dome.
Collier was in his marked cruiser parked near the intersections of Main and Vassar streets on April 18 when he was shot to death, allegedly by brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Members of the MIT police force and Cambridge police, along with people who stopped on their way to work, attended the 10-minute ceremony that MIT police proposed just this Tuesday.
“It’s painful in the extreme to try and remember that six months ago — at this very hour — Sean Collier was still with us,’’ MIT Police Chief John DiFava said.
He recalled Collier, a 27-year-old bachelor who had achieved a life-long dream by becoming a police officer, in words that were alternately light-hearted and emotional. For Collier, DiFava said, “every day was a good day. It never rains. As long as you had money in your pocket, life was good.’’
The plaque is inscribed with the shoulder patch of the MIT police force and “179”, which was Collier’s badge number.
Referring to the people who interrupted their morning routine to remember Collier, DiFava said, “You can’t help but to think that this is a testament not to a situation, but to a man.’’
Among those attending was Christina Giacobbe, chief administrative officer of the Cambridge Police Department.
“He was a good officer, a great human being,’’ she said. “He did a lot for this community. He was taken away from us way too prematurely.’’
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in the early morning hours of April 19 when he was shot by police and run over by his own brother in a confrontation with Watertown police and other law enforcement officers. The younger brother, Dzkhokar, was found hiding in a boat in Watertown later that day and is facing prosecution in both federal and state courts for three deaths at the Marathon bombing site and the killing of Collier.
A candlelight vigil will be held at Main and Vassar streets starting at 10 p.m tonight. A moment of silence will be held at 10:20 p.m., the time when Collier was shot, officials said.