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State honors 25 police officers, including Sean Collier, for bravery

After Massachusetts Institute of Technology police Officer Sean A. Collier was fatally shot on campus days after the Boston Marathon bombings, the call to duty to fellow officers came in many forms.

Transit Officers Richard H. Donohue and Lucas J. Kitto of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority went to Cambridge to search for suspects. State Trooper Christopher J. Dumont drove to the shooting scene after finishing a security detail at Logan International Airport.

They converged in Watertown with four local officers and confronted the bombing suspects in a shootout during the early hours of April 19, 2013. A bullet severed Donohue's femoral artery.

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The seven officers reunited Wednesday at the State House, where they were presented with medals of honor at a ceremony for the Trooper George L. Hanna Memorial Awards for Bravery. The honor was also presented posthumously to Collier, whose family accepted the medal. Collier, 26, was ambushed and killed in his cruiser on the night of April 18, 2013.

Donohue, who attended the police academy with Collier, said he was honored by the recognition.

"The main thing was standing shoulder to shoulder with some of the bravest cops in the Commonwealth, the best guys in the Commonwealth, including the guys that brought terror to an end here and then saved my life," Donohue said.

A total of 25 officers were recognized, including several state troopers and members of police departments in Boston, Lynn, Danvers, Pembroke, and Ashland.

The namesake of the awards, Trooper George L. Hanna, was fatally wounded during a traffic stop in Auburn on Feb. 26, 1983.

During the ceremony, Undersecretary for Law Enforcement Anne P. Powers described the dramatic events in Watertown on April 19, 2013.

Just after midnight, Watertown Officer Joseph B. Reynolds received a report about a carjacking in Cambridge. He headed to Dexter Avenue, where he found the carjacked vehicle parked next to a Honda Accord. As Reynolds approached, both vehicles sped away.

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Watertown Sergeant John C. MacLellan trailed behind. The stolen vehicle came to an abrupt stop and the driver got out, then started firing at MacLellan's and Reynolds's vehicles.

One bullet struck MacLellan's windshield, showering his face with glass before becoming lodged in his seat's headrest. Up to that point, the officers were unaware that the carjacking suspects may be tied to Collier's death and the bombings, Powers said.

Transit Officers Donohue and Kitto also went to Watertown, where they encountered a gunfight in which more than 270 rounds were fired over a span of more than five minutes, Powers said.

To take better cover Reynolds climbed a nearby fence, and MacLellan moved behind a tree. By that time, Watertown Sergeant Jeffrey J. Pugliese, who was not on duty, and Officer Timothy B. Menton arrived.

Pugliese confronted the brothers from the side.

"He did so by climbing nearby fences and engaging in close-range gunfire until he was able to tackle the suspect and attempt to handcuff him," Powers said.

Donohue was shot during the confrontation and was bleeding profusely. Kitto began rendering first aid, while Menton applied pressure to the wound, and Reynolds tried to stabilize Donohue with oxygen. Dumont, who is also a paramedic, retrieved his medical bag from his cruiser.

"I describe it as a team of people who never worked together before just coming together and rapidly getting Officer Donohue to the closest hospital," Dumont said. "No one person saved his life, but if anyone in the group had done anything different that day . . . he may have died."

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Donohue said he still faces some hurdles before he can return to work. He said he continues to mourn Collier.

"I'm sick of hearing 'Amazing Grace,'' " he said. "Every time you hear that song, you know it's because one of your brothers didn't make it. I grieve for him as a friend, and I can tell you that not a day goes by when I'm not thinking about him."

Among the other honorees was the first police dog to receive a Hanna award.

Ashland police Officer Chris Alberini said his dog, Dax, saved him from being shot when he climbed into an attic where a suspect was hiding with a shotgun on July 2, 2013.


Laura Crimaldi can be reached at laura.crimaldi@globe.com.