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Chief: MIT officer 'real deal'

| Friday, April 19, 2013, 8:06 p.m.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Slain Massachusetts Institute of Technology police 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, be it offering students rides or volunteering for extra duties.

“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 Friday.

“The kid was the real deal,” he added.

Investigators say Collier was shot while responding to a report of a disturbance. He was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

“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.

MIT says Collier was a native of Wilmington and a Somerville resident who had worked at MIT since January 2012. Before that, he was a civilian employee of the Somerville Police Department — a force he hoped to join one day as an officer.

Collier focused on becoming a police officer after graduating with honors from Salem State University in 2009 with a criminal justice degree. Bob Trane, an alderman in Somerville whose ward includes the home where Collier lived, said the young man contacted him about the process of becoming a police officer.

“He was a young guy with an old soul, mature beyond his years,” Trane said. “He knew what he wanted in life and he was working toward that goal. ... His whole life was focused on going into law enforcement.”

“He was old school — respectful, courteous, dedicated,” Trane said.

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