Collier responded to a disturbance on campus and died Thursday night after two men fired gunshots at his vehicle. Collier was shot several times in his vehicle around 10:30 p.m. Thursday. He was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Collier was a civilian employee of the Somerville Police Department before he became an MIT officer in January 2012. He reportedly got his start in law enforcement by helping police officers transcribe their reports. Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone said, “He was an outstanding employee for us. I have no doubt he was also an incredible officer for MIT.”
MIT Police Chief John DiFava spoke of a man who was dedicated and well-liked, and who “really looked at police work as a calling.” DiFava said, “He was born to be a police officer.”
DiFava also reported that Collier was highly involved with MIT’s student population. “In a very short period of time, it was remarkable how engaged he was with students, particularly graduate students,” DiFava said.
“Thank you for what you did for us,” wrote one poster. “We will miss your laughter, your jokes, your excitement, and most of all your genuine love of life. You were a good friend and will be remembered for a long time. Thank you for the service you have done to everyone — to me, to my friends, to MIT, and to the world. You are a hero.”
Another student wrote that they often walked by Sean’s station on their way to class.
“[He] would always ask about my day, my problem sets, and my life, sharing tidbits about his shifts, the new book he was reading, the new programming concept he was learning about,” the post said. “It made me smile to know that for a few minutes every morning, I got to talk to one of the most easy-going, friendly people I have ever known. The fact that he was a campus police officer who’s job it was to protect my campus made me feel even more comforted in the fact that our police force had such quality individuals. He wanted to get to know students — he wanted to understand us. And he did it; he knew which students he was protecting every day when he came to work. He wanted motivation to come to work every day. By getting to know students, by talking to us, by sharing memories with us, by hiking with us, by dancing with us, by listening to music with us, he knew his community. He loved us, and we loved him.”
Another poster wrote that Sean was “adorably proud of his new pickup truck — which was pretty much the biggest one you can get.” The person continued, “mostly because he couldn’t wait to take other people on outdoor adventures in it.”
“He was as generous and kind-hearted of a soul as anyone could ever hope to meet,” the poster wrote, “and a friend to all of us.”
Israel Ruiz, MIT’s executive vice president and treasurer, also mourned Sean in a statement.
“The MIT Police serve all of us at the Institute with great dignity, honor and dedication,” Ruiz said. “Everyone here — those who knew Officer Collier, and those who did not — are devastated by the events that transpired on our campus last night. We will never forget the seriousness with which he took his role protecting MIT and those of us who consider it home.”
“I have never met a person so eager to help, so eager to be a friend, as Sean,” wrote a friend on the memorial site.
Officer Collier was also an avid kickballer who played every Sunday with his team, Kickhopopotamus, part of the WAKA MA-Ivy league. Many of the team’s members posted photos of Collier today in memory of their slain friend.
Another post on the memorial website remembered Collier as a particularly selfless, generous person. “Sean never seemed to think much about whether it was fair to him, how much he gave to the people around him. He just kept smiling and making jokes and giving more.”
“Now he has given everything.”