Boulder police officer Eric Talley (pictured), 51, who was shot dead while responding to a massacre at a King Soopers grocery store left his six-figure IT job to become a cop
The Boulder police officer who was shot dead while responding to a massacre at a grocery store left his six-figure IT job to become a cop after his friend tragically died in a DUI crash.
According to the Denver Post, before Eric Talley, 51, became an officer with the Boulder Police Department, he was working as an IT technician.
It was when his friend was killed in a DUI crash that Talley stepped away from that position and into law enforcement.
‘That kind of propelled him into law enforcement,’ Jeremy Herko, a lieutenant with the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office in Colorado, told the newspaper.
Herko, who met Talley in 2010 while at the police academy at the Community College of Aurora, said his friend then ‘cashed out of his 401k’.
Herko revealed that he and Talley would speak on a weekly basis, adding that Talley text him on Monday as the news broke of the shooting.
‘I sent him a text asking him if he was OK, and of course he never texted back,’ Herko told the Post through tears. ‘That’s the life of a police officer.’
Herko also told the Washington Post that Talley ‘absolutely loved his job and wanted to serve the community’.
‘It was remarkable to me that somebody would go to law enforcement from IT. He lost pay. He lost time away from his family. He joined the police academy without a guaranteed job.’
Local residents paid tribute to Talley on Tuesday by laying flowers on the fallen officer’s police car that was parked out front of the Boulder Police Department.
Local residents paid tribute to Talley on Tuesday by laying flowers on the fallen officer’s police car (pictured) that was parked out front of the Boulder Police Department
Joan Lutz, places a note that says, ‘Thank you police officers, our hearts are grieving,’ at a memorial for Officer Eric Talley, who was killed Monday during a mass shooting in King Soopers grocery store
Karla Bielanski places flowers on Talley’s patrol car that was parked outside the Boulder Police Department on Tuesday
People also laid flowers at a growing memorial outside the King Soopers supermarket a day after an alleged gunman killed 10 people
A handwritten letter that included the names of the victims was attached to fencing around the King Soopers grocery store on Tuesday
Talley, a father-of-seven, was the first on the scene when reports of a shooting at King Soopers came in Monday afternoon.
He was among the 10 people shot dead at the store when a gunman, identified by police as 21-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, opened fire.
In the aftermath of the massacre, Talley’s father said the slain officer had been learning to become a drone operator so he could step away from the front line.
‘He didn’t want to put his family through something like this,’ his father Homer said.
Talley is survived by his his wife and their seven children. Their youngest child is seven years old.
‘He loved his kids and his family more than anything,’ his father said.
Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold paid tribute to Talley on Tuesday, acknowledging that he became a police officer because he realized he had a ‘higher calling’.
‘He was a very kind man who didn’t have to go into policing. He had a profession before this. He had a higher calling,’ an emotional Herold said.
‘He’s everything policing needs and deserves. He was willing to die to protect others.’
Talley’s sister Kirstin paid tribute to her brother with a heartbreaking childhood photo (left) of them both, saying she could ‘not explain how beautiful he was and what a devastating loss this is to so many’
Herold said she had Talley and his family in her office just two weeks ago.
‘I feel numb. It’s heartbreaking to talk to victims, their families. It is tragic,’ she said. ‘This officer had seven children. I had his whole family in my office to weeks ago to give him an award.’
Talley had been working as an officer for just over a decade after enrolling in the Aurora’s Police Training Academy when he was 40 years old.
In a separate social media tribute, Herko said of his slain friend: ‘He was a devout Christian, he had to buy a 15-passenger van to haul all his kids around, and he was the nicest guy in the world.’
It comes as Talley’s sister Kirstin paid tribute to her brother with a heartbreaking childhood photo of them both, saying she could ‘not explain how beautiful he was and what a devastating loss this is to so many’.
‘Officer Eric Talley is my big brother. He died today in the Boulder shooting,’ she wrote in her tribute. ‘My heart is broken. I cannot explain how beautiful he was and what a devastating loss this is to so many. Fly high my sweet brother. You always wanted to be a pilot (damn color blindness). Soar.’
Another friend named Kevin Lederer posted a picture of Talley in his younger days and said that the fallen police officer had loved his job.
‘RIP Eric, my old friend. I know you loved serving your community. I am glad you were a part of my life growing up together,’ he said.
Another friend said Eric Talley (far left) had ‘loved serving his community’ and said they were ‘glad you were a part of my life growing up together’
The Boulder police department shared a photo of Talley in uniform with the caption: ‘Rest in peace Officer Eric Talley. Your service will never be forgotten’
After joining the force, Talley made headlines in 2013 as one of three officers who helped save 11 ducklings that had become stuck in a drainage ditch with their mother.
Talley eventually waded into calf-deep water to rescue the ducks one by one from the pipes, the Boulder Daily Camera reported at the time.
Following his death on Monday, Herold described Talley as ‘heroic’ and confirmed that he was the first to respond to the shooting at a King Soopers supermarket.
‘We know of 10 fatalities at the scene, including one of our Boulder PD officers… Officer Talley responded to the scene – was first on the scene – and he was fatally shot,’ Herold said when news broke.
The Boulder police department shared a photo of Talley in uniform with the caption: ‘Rest in peace Officer Eric Talley. Your service will never be forgotten.’
His colleagues gave him a hero’s procession on Monday evening as his body was removed from the scene.
Law enforcement personnel salutes as the motorcade carrying fallen Boulder Police officer Eric Talley exits the King Soopers grocery store in Boulder on Monday night
His colleagues gave him a hero’s procession on Monday evening as his body was removed from the scene
This image is an aerial view of a procession that occurred for Officer Eric Talley who was killed in the shooting at King Soopers
Talley is the sixth on-duty death in the Boulder Police Department’s history and the first officer killed in the line of duty since 1994.
‘He was, by all accounts, one of the outstanding officers at the Boulder Police Department and his life was cut far too short,’ Michael Dougherty, the Boulder County district attorney, told local outlets.
The gunman – who is now in custody – opened fire at the grocery store shortly before 3pm on Monday.
Witnesses have described hiding in food aisles and sheltering while trying to listen to which direction he was coming from, and if he was reloading what they described as an AR-15 rifle.
At a press conference on Tuesday morning, officials said they still did not know what the shooter’s motive was.
‘We will make sure that the suspect is held accountable for what he did to them yesterday,’ Douhgerty said.
Alissa was eventually shot in the leg in a standoff with the cops. He has been charged with ten counts of murder.
Colorado has been the scene of some of the most shocking mass shootings in modern US history.
In 2012, a young man dressed in tactical gear burst into a movie theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora during a midnight screening and sprayed the audience with gunfire, killing 12 and wounding 70.
In 1999, a pair of students went on a shooting rampage at Columbine High School near Littleton, Colorado, killing 12 classmates and a teacher, and then themselves.
A gunman shot and killed ten people at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado, on Monday
Crime scene investigators walk outside the shattered King Soopers supermarket on Monday as they begin their inquiries into the mass shooting