PEPPERELL -- On the night of April 18, 2013, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Police Officer Ken Spooner told his friend, Officer Sean Collier to come up and say hello at the end of his shift. Collier didn't come, and so Spooner left for the night.
He got the call on his drive home.
"My heart sunk into my stomach," Spooner, a Pepperell resident, said as he recalled the phone call.
Collier was shot and killed that night, allegedly by suspected Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Little did Spooner know when he heard the news of the shooting that chaos would soon erupt in Watertown, and he would be in the thick of it.
Today, Collier's memory lives on, at the memorial set up at MIT, through the scholarship fund formed in his honor and in the hearts of family and friends.
"Sean was a good kid," Spooner said. "Like any young officer, he was a little gung-ho, but he kind of got it. More than the other officers he got involved with the student groups, and became a friend to the students. He was different in that aspect."
Spooner and Collier had lockers next to each other at MIT. One of Spooner's duties was to train incoming officers, and when Collier arrived for training, the pair became fast friends.
He described Collier as "a friend to all of us," in reference to the tight-knit MIT police force.
Spooner was on-duty when the marathon was bombed, charged with making sure that MIT properties on the Boston side of the river were safe. And after the call about Collier's shooting brought him back to work, Spooner was one of the hundreds of officers who flocked to Watertown as a shoot-out unfolded on a normally quiet street.
"We rushed into that area, got out of the car, and that's when we heard the shooting," Spooner said.
"There were hundreds of officers, and more and more kept coming. And I think people, a lot of the officers, started to look at my patch that was on my shoulder and started to realize that that was one of my colleagues that was killed and a lot of guys started apologizing to me."
This year, Spooner won't be at the Boston Marathon. Instead, he's spending the week in Washington, D.C., where Collier's name will be etched into a memorial commemorating fallen officers.
It's one of many ways that he and the rest of the 42 uniformed officers on the MIT police force have found to cope with Collier's death.
Since that night, Spooner said the department has banded together to honor Collier's memory.
"We've done everything. We have a temporary memorial placed out there and every time I'm out there on shift, once a night I make it a ritual to stop by," Spooner said.
The Sean A. Collier Memorial Fund has been formed to raise money for a scholarship fund for MIT students, training for new officers and a permanent memorial dedicated to Collier.
Additionally, the Collier Medal was presented for the first time in February to honor MIT's student-run ambulance service, which arrived on the scene the night of Collier's shooting.
"They're the ones who first worked on Sean. That was a lot to ask of those kids," Spooner said.
Recognizing those who share Collier's best qualities is an important way to honor his memory, Spooner said.
"It keeps the spirit going of what Sean is, what Sean was, a young proud officer, and the money helps bring other people like him on the job," Spooner said.
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