(CBS4) – Police officer Eric Talley’s actions before his death during a mass shooting last week prevented more lives from being lost, and Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold wants to make sure his family knows it. She says his heroism in his final hour will never be forgotten by her department.
Talley, 51, was one of 10 people who died on March 22 when a man opened fire at the King Soopers on Table Mesa Drive in south Boulder. According to Boulder police, Talley was the first officer to respond to the scene.
“When given a chance to help others, Eric did so selflessly and without hesitation,” Herold said at his public memorial service in Lafayette on Tuesday.
“There is no doubt because of his bravery and quick action, dozens of innocent lives were saved,” she said as she directly addressed his family in attendance. She said that she hopes that message “brings solace” in the years ahead.
Talley leaves behind a wife and seven children, ranging from 5 to 18 years old.
Herold spoke about the fact that Talley didn’t become a police officer until middle age. At 41, he left his well-paying tech job and pursued a career with the Boulder Police Department.
“Eric didn’t need to become a police officer,” she said. “He was an IT professional. But he felt a higher calling. So Eric joined the police department in 2010.”
Herold said in the decade that followed Talley received much praise from the public in the form of letters to the department, particularly “for the way Eric treated them and cared for them in some of their darkest moments,” his chief said.
“The Boulder Police Department continues to receive phone calls to this very day from behavioral health professionals across the county who commend Eric’s compassionate approach to helping those most in need,” she said.
Talley joined the department’s drone team in 2017 and participated in more than 100 operational missions.
“His passion was motivated not only by his inherent curiosity, but Eric firmly believed that this kind of technology would become critical to protecting the public while keeping officers safe,” Herold said.
Suspect Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 21, of Arvada, faces multiple charges in the shooting.