Eric Talley, the 51-year-old cop who was killed when he confronted a mass shooter inside a Colorado supermarket Monday, gave up a six-figure job to become a police officer a decade ago, according to reports.
“He’s a very kind man, and he didn’t have to go into policing. He had a profession before this but he felt a higher calling,” Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold said Tuesday. “And he loved his community. He’s everything that policing deserves and needs. He was willing to die to protect others, and that gets lost in translation.”
Talley, a father of seven, was one of 10 people killed in a mass shooting at a King Soopers store in Boulder on Monday.
Talley’s father said that his son joined the Boulder Police Department in 2010 at the age of 40 after a career in information technology.
“At age 40, he decided he wanted to serve his community,” Homer “Shay” Talley, 74, told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “He left his desk job. He just wanted to serve, and that’s what he did. He just enjoyed the police family.”
“That kind of propelled him into law enforcement,” Jeremy Herko, a lieutenant with the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, told the Denver Post. “He cashed out of his 401k.”
Talley leaves behind his wife and seven children, according to a GoFundMe set up to support his family.
“My heart is broken,” his sister wrote on Twitter. “I cannot explain how beautiful he was and what a devastating loss this is to so many.”
Talley was also remembered for his unique ability to connect with the public while on the job.
“He was just a highly respected, well-loved person and officer,” Officer Mark Bliley, head of the Boulder Police Department’s union, told the Denver Post. “Just a solid person … I don’t know of anyone who didn’t like Eric.”
In 2013, local newspaper The Daily Camera reported that Talley and other officers waded into a drainage ditch to rescue a mother duck and her ducklings
“He was drenched after this,” Sgt. Jack Walker said of Talley. “They would go into these little pipes and he would have to try and fish them out.”
Colorado police held a procession Monday night to honor the life of Talley.
His police car filled up with flowers Tuesday as people came by the Boulder police station to pay their respects.
The other nine victims, who ranged in age from 20 to 65, were Denny Stong, 20; Neven Stanisic, 23; Rikki Olds, 25; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Teri Leiker, 51; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; and Jodi Waters, 65.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.