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April 22, 2013 0

Slain Officer Tragic Reminder Of Extremist Dangers To Law Enforcement

Offi­cer Sean Collier

The hunt for sus­pected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsar­naev gripped the nation on April 19 as author­i­ties shut vir­tu­ally the entire city down in their hunt for the deadly fugitive.

Some­what side­lined by the man­hunt was the fatal encounter that touched off the mas­sive search, the shock­ing alleged mur­der by Dzhokhar and Tamer­lan Tsar­naev of a uni­ver­sity police offi­cer the night before.  Around 10:30pm on April 18, police received a call about a con­ve­nience store rob­bery near the Mass­a­chu­setts Insti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy (MIT) in Cam­bridge (the rob­bery later turned out to be uncon­nected).  Shortly there­after, 26-year-old MIT police offi­cer Sean Col­lier, report­edly encoun­tered the two broth­ers, who shot him mul­ti­ple times while he was still in his cruiser, mor­tally wound­ing him.

The broth­ers allegedly car­jacked a Mer­cedes shortly there­after.  Police located the stolen vehi­cle in Water­town, but when the first offi­cer approached the car, the broth­ers allegedly jumped out and opened fire.  As addi­tional offi­cers arrived, the sus­pects allegedly threw explo­sive devices at the offi­cers.  MBTA Tran­sit Police Offi­cer Richard Don­ahue, Jr., 33, received crit­i­cal gun­shot injuries dur­ing this chase, though he is now in sta­ble con­di­tion receiv­ing hos­pi­tal care.  Fif­teen other offi­cers were injured dur­ing the shootout.  Tarmer­lan Tsamaev died in this sec­ond encounter after receiv­ing mul­ti­ple injuries, includ­ing being run over by his own brother dri­ving a vehicle.

The tragic death of Offi­cer Col­lier and the near fatal shoot­ing of Offi­cer Don­ahue high­light the extent to which police offi­cers risk their own lives and wel­fare to pro­tect Amer­i­cans from dan­ger­ous extrem­ists.  How­ever, most Amer­i­cans are not aware how often the nation’s police offi­cers must place them­selves in the line of fire to oppose dan­ger­ous extremists.

Accord­ing to ADL records, Offi­cer Col­lier was actu­ally the 30th police offi­cer to die in the United States at the hands of domes­tic extrem­ists (of all vari­eties) since 2001.  In a num­ber of those instances, the offi­cers, like Col­lier, were killed while encoun­ter­ing a des­per­ate extrem­ist fugi­tive try­ing to evade cap­ture for a pre­vi­ous act.

Just since 2009, 33 shootouts (includ­ing the Water­town event) have taken place between law enforce­ment offi­cers and domes­tic extremists—including right-wing anti-government extrem­ists, white suprema­cists, domes­tic Mus­lim extrem­ists and oth­ers.  In those vio­lent encoun­ters, extrem­ists have shot 34 police offi­cers, 11 fatally.  In at least four of those inci­dents, it was prob­a­bly only body armor that saved the offi­cers’ lives.  Almost 25% of these shootouts involved extrem­ists who were fugi­tives or oth­er­wise resist­ing arrest.

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