Boston notebook

April 19, 2013 

MIT policeman died doing what he loved

BOSTON — Slain Massachusetts Institute of Technology officer Sean Collier enjoyed climbing snowy mountains, training young boxers and playing kickball on a team called Kickhopopotamus.

But most of all, he was dedicated to being a police officer.

The baby-faced 26-year-old who authorities say was killed by the Boston Marathon suspects was at MIT for just over a year and impressed students and his colleagues with his contagious enthusiasm.

“Just the other day — and I still have it on my computer — he asked me if I would have a problem if he approached the homeless shelter to see if he could become a member of the board of directors, so that he could work with those people down there and try to mitigate problems before the problems develop,” MIT Police Chief John DiFava said.

Investigators say Collier was shot while responding to a report of a disturbance. “Our only solace is that Sean died bravely doing what he committed his life to — serving and protecting others,” his family said in a statement.

Finding photos vital to investigation

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — When the FBI released images of the suspects, Bob Leonard used the time stamp shown on them to narrow his search of the hundreds of photos he had snapped that day. He realized that he, too, had photos of the faces of the two men authorities were searching for and used the FBI tip line to upload them.

Friday morning, he saw his cropped photos all over the morning news (one is on this page). “That finally gave them a good facial picture,” the 58-year-old electrical engineer said. “It was a pretty good breakthrough.”

He said he saw a sequence with the two men in it. “They actually stood in that corner for quite a bit of time,” Leonard said.

8-year-old victim’s family thanks authorities

DORCHESTER, Mass. — Martin Richard’s family offered its gratitude both to the investigators who worked around the clock on the case and the civilians who offered tips and images that helped authorities zero in on two suspects. In a statement, the family said it trusts that the justice system will now “do its job” after the arrest of 19-year-old suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Martin was killed in Monday’s blast, and his mother and sister were among some 180 others wounded. The family says it continues to “pray for healing and for comfort” for the rest of the victims.

Finally, something to cheer about

WATERTOWN, Mass. — The mood was tense, with the few neighbors who ventured out hugging and crying as they heard bangs. Others merely looked on curiously. Then, one officer slowly started clapping. Then it spread to the crowd. Then loud cheers broke out. It was like a movie.

People in the crowd started asking, “Is he alive?” One of the officers nodded, yes. Anytime a first responder emerged from the street, there was loud applause.

“They finally caught the jerk,” said nurse Cindy Boyle, 41, referring to Dzhokhar, who was the target of Friday’s manhunt. “It was scary; it was tense.” She said she knew when police started clapping that everything would be all right.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think that this would result in a shootout in Watertown,” said Sheamus McGovern, of neighboring Belmont. McGovern said he had been startled overnight when he heard “what sounded like firecrackers, last night after one, and then pure bedlam.”

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