Police Officer Eric Talley, one of 10 people killed on Monday by a lone gunman’s assault on a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado, was remembered as “a generous man who would do anything to help anyone.”
Talley, 51, was the first to respond to reports of gunfire at the King Soopers grocery store. His boss, Chief Maris Herold, described his actions as “heroic” during a Monday evening press conference.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Herold said that Talley was “everything that policing deserves and needs.”
“He cared about this community ... He was willing to die to protect others,” she said.
Talley had been with the police department since 2010. He was a husband and father of seven, with the youngest age 7. Colleagues called him very well-liked and kind. He reportedly rescued a family of ducks in 2013 on the same road where he was fatally shot.
His father, Homer Talley, said in a statement that his son “took his job as a police officer very seriously” and that “he loved his kids and his family more than anything.”
“He joined the police force when he was 40 years old,” his father said. “He was looking for a job to keep himself off of the front lines and was learning to be a drone operator. He didn’t want to put his family through something like this and he believed in Jesus Christ.”
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D), the city of Boulder, and many of Talley’s friends and former colleagues mourned his death on social media.
People on Twitter who identified themselves as Talley’s niece and younger sister shared emotional messages about his life.
“I cannot explain how beautiful he was and what a devastating loss this is to so many,” wrote a woman who called Talley “my big brother.”
In a Facebook group of former employees of the tech company Avaya, where Talley worked before joining the police department, many remembered him in a heartfelt comment thread. Former co-worker Joe Brooks called Talley “a great guy.”
“I just have no words,” he wrote.
Brooks told HuffPost he worked with Talley at Avaya from 2007 to 2010 in Westminster, Colorado.
“He was a generous man who would do anything to help anyone,” said Brooks.
Another former co-worker of Talley’s, Lauri Wegschieder, called him “one of the smartest people” she knew in an emotional Facebook post.
Wegschieder told HuffPost via email that she worked with Talley for 11 years at the police department and that they “had a special relationship.”
“He was always so proud [of] his family and loved to show pictures of them. He lived in Aurora and drove 1.5 hours each way to work. We used to kid around with him that that was the only peace and quiet he ever got was that long drive to and from work,” she wrote.
She shared that Talley was “fearless” with “a heart of gold” and even joked that he was “addicted to Mountain Dew.”
“He knew his job was to help those who couldn’t help themselves. He lived a life of compassion even during the trying times of the job. He always treated people with respect,” Wegschieder wrote, adding: “The loss of his life and the 9 others yesterday has left me without words to describe the heartache. I am so worried about the future of his family and how they will make it. I’m awaiting word from the department on where people can send donations to his family. With 7 children it is going to be a rough road for them all. Eric lived honorably and died a hero. I’m lucky to have been a part of his life.”
Others who crossed paths with Talley through his work as a police officer also shared memories. One person described Talley as “the only one that made me feel safe after multiple incidents at my job on Pearl Street.”
“Several officers dismissed our concerns, but he consistently checked in,” the person wrote on Twitter.
Another recalled an incident in which Talley responded to a disturbance involving an abusive boyfriend.
“He stayed with me throughout the entire ordeal,” she wrote, adding that the officer “calmed me down & said he was just at the right place at the right time.”
“While the other officers were outside reading my abuser his rights, Officer Talley was kind enough to stay with me until a friend could come get me,” she continued. “He gave me his personal card ‘call me if the coward decides- to show his face again.’”
“To this day I credit Officer Talley for saving my life. I still have his card. Thank you for being my hero that night & thank you for being a hero to everyone in King Soopers today,” she wrote.