When the call came in about someone at a grocery store possibly armed with “a patrol rifle,” Officer Eric Talley headed straight toward the danger.
He was the first Boulder police officer to arrive at the King Soopers store Monday afternoon. The 51-year-old quickly lost his life trying to save others.
As Colorado and the entire nation grieves the deaths of 10 people, those who knew Talley said his bravery was obvious on his last day of duty.
“Didn’t surprise me he was the first one there,” his father, Homer Talley, told CNN affiliate KUSA.
Officer Talley is survived by his wife and seven children, his father said.
“He loved his family more than anything,” Homer Talley said. He was also a prankster with a “great sense of humor.”
A verified GoFundMe account has been established to help Talley’s family.
A storied career
Talley had been a member of the Boulder police force since 2010, Police Chief Maris Herold said.
In 2013, he and a small group of Boulder officers made headlines after rescuing ducklings from a drainage ditch.
The officer had “waded into the calf-deep water to try to round up the ducks” and save them, the Daily Camera newspaper in Boulder reported.
Over the years, Talley “served in numerous roles supporting the Boulder Police Department and the community of Boulder,” Herold said.
“I have to tell you the heroic action of this officer when he responded to the scene” Monday, the police chief said. “He didn’t have to go into policing, but he felt a higher calling.”
She said Talley was “willing to die to protect others” and embodied “everything policing deserves and needs.”
Just two weeks ago, Talley and his family were in the police chief’s office as one of his sons accepted an award.
Talley had taught his family CPR, and his son used that skill to help save a family member who had swallowed a quarter, Herold said.
Now the joy of that celebration has been overshadowed by grief.
“I feel numb,” the police chief said. “It’s heartbreaking to talk to victims, the families.”
Support throughout the community
Talley was the first Boulder police officer to be killed in the line of duty since 1994 and the sixth on duty death in the department’s history, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Multiple law enforcement agencies held a rolling vigil in Talley’s honor Monday night.
“He was, by all accounts, one of the outstanding officers of the Boulder Police Department, and his life was cut far too short,” Boulder District Attorney Michael Dougherty said.
“For all the victims who were killed at King Soopers, these were people going about their day, doing their food shopping, and their lives were cut abruptly and tragically short by the shooter.”
Talley was very aware of the danger he faced as a police officer. His father told KUSA he recently looked into becoming a drone operator because he thought it would be safer.
CNN’s Shawn Nottingham, Joe Sutton and Whitney Wild contributed to this report.