CAMBRIDGE (AP) — Rob Rogers said Wednesday’s memorial service for slain Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier captured his stepbrother’s life of service — in law enforcement and toward others.
There were sirens, bagpipes, American flags and hundreds of fellow officers.
“He would love this,” Rogers said as Vice President Joe Biden joined thousands of students, faculty and staff, and law enforcement officials from across the nation at MIT’s Briggs Field for the service to honor the fallen officer.
Collier 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.
As the investigation into the bombings continues, new information emerged yesterday from U.S. officials that the name of one of the suspects had been added to a U.S. government terrorist database long before the explosions. U.S. officials said Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s name was added by the CIA to a terrorist database 18 months ago. The officials spoke to The Associated press on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the ongoing case.
The disclosure was significant because officials have been saying the U.S. intelligence community had no relevant information leading up to the April 15 bombings, which killed three people and injured more than 260 others. Inclusion of one of the bomb suspects’ name in a database for 18 months before the attack could prompt congressional inquiries about whether the U.S. government adequately investigated tips from Russia that Tsarnaev posed a security threat.
After closed-door briefings on Capitol Hill with the FBI and other law enforcement officials, lawmakers said earlier this week that it appeared so far that the brothers were radicalized via the Internet instead of by direct contact with any terrorist groups and that the older brother was the driving force in the bomb plot.
At Collier’s memorial service yesterday, Biden told the officer’s family, “My heart goes out to you. 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, knock-off 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,’’ he said.
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.
Boston native James Taylor sang “The Water is Wide” and led a sing-along during “Shower the People.”
State police said between 4,000 and 5,000 attended the service. The line of mourners stretched for about a half mile at MIT ahead of the service. They had to make their way through tight security, including metal detectors and bomb-sniffing dogs ahead of the service.