This was the kind of event that used to be a part of dealing with tragedy and collective sorrow. Too often today, we have no release for the heavy burden of tragedy and loss we carry in our hearts.
While walking, we came upon an area devoted to Collier.
Collier, the 26-year-old father of a 6-month-old child, responded to a 10:20 p.m. call about a disturbance. As he called for backup, he was shot dead by the two gunmen. His death should make us all more appreciative of the high risk and uncertainty that police officers routinely face.
I interviewed Groveland police Chief Robert Kirmelewicz for this article, and he put it all too well when he noted: “Officers risk life and limb every time that they go out on patrol, no matter where they work. Current events show that anything can happen, anywhere and at any time.”
Collier unfortunately found himself in the cross hairs of this “anywhere and anytime.” He didn’t have a chance. The bombers took him by surprise and fired six bullets into his body while his gun was still in its holster. As Kirmelewicz commented further: “This was a police officer that went to work that night to protect the public, and he lost his life in the line of duty. His job was to make sure that people got to go home to their families at the end of his tour of duty, but sadly, he did not have that same opportunity.”
After the murder of Collier, Donahue was severely wounded in a shootout with the two bombers. He and other police officers pursuing the two men were not only at risk from gunfire, but also from bombs like those exploded at the marathon.
I later wondered what it would feel like pursuing two men willing to die, men trying to kill me. The feelings that came up triggered a wave of deep appreciation in me for police courage. Who else would drive 90 mph toward us and face a hail of bullets and bombs to protect people?