The father-of-seven police officer killed in the Boulder grocery store massacre had recently been looking to step away from the front lines to protect his family after joining the force a decade ago after his friend was killed in a DUI crash.
Boulder Police officer Eric Talley, 51, was among the 10 people shot dead at a King Soopers outlet in Boulder on Monday 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 Talley 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.’
Boulder Police officer Eric Talley, 51, was among the 10 people gunned down in Boulder, Colorado on Monday. Talley’s sister Kirstin paid tribute to her brother with a heartbreaking childhood photo of them both
The sister of the fallen police officer said she could ‘not explain how beautiful he was and what a devastating loss this is to so many’
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.
Talley, who had a master’s degree, had quit his stable IT job in 2010 after one of his close friends died in a DUI crash.
‘He was pretty driven to join law enforcement,’ his police academy friend Jeremy Herko told the Washington Post.
‘That was his life. He 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.’
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.’
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. Talley, who had a master’s degree, had quit his stable IT job in 2010 after one of his close friends died in a DUI crash
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’
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.
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, Boulder police chief Maris 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
A gunman killed 10 people, including a police officer, at a grocery store in Colorado on Monday as footage showed a handcuffed man covered in blood and injured shoppers lying inside and outside the supermarket. 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.
It’s unclear who the shooter is, what his motive was or why it is taking so long for him to be formally identified by law enforcement.
They have not confirmed whether a white man who was seen emerging from the store, shirtless and barefoot, in handcuffs with blood pouring down his leg, is the shooter.
They have said that the only person who was injured and not killed is the gunman. No charges have been filed yet.
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. It’s unclear if this man – who was seen being taken away in handcuffs with blood pouring down his leg – is him. Police won’t confirm the shooter’s identity yet. They have confirmed that the only person who was injured and survived the shooting was the gunman. Everyone else died
Crime scene investigators walk outside the shattered King Soopers supermarket on Monday as they begin their inquiries into the mass shooting
The aftermath of the King Soopers shooting in which ten people including Talley were killed