BOULDER, Colo. — Boulder Officer Eric Talley was a man who believed so much in a higher calling to serve his community, that he left his profession to join the Boulder Police Department (BPD).
That's among the many things Boulder PD Chief Maris Herold highlighted about the officer who gave his life to protect the community he cared about during an emotional news conference Tuesday morning following Monday's King Soopers shooting.
"He loved this community," Herold said. "He’s everything policing needs, he cared about this community, Boulder Police, his family. He was willing to die to protect others, and that gets lost in translation."
Talley was among the 10 people who lost their lives during Monday's Boulder mass shooting.
Talley, 51, had been with BPD since 2010.
Talley was the first officer on the scene at the grocery store at 3600 Table Mesa Drive, where he was fatally shot, Herold said in a news conference late Monday.
Homer Talley, Eric Talley's father, said he was a father of seven children, the oldest of whom is age 20 and the youngest of whom is 7.
“Didn’t surprise me he was the first one there…” Homer Talley told 9NEWS.
BPD awarded one of Eric Talley's children a life-saver award after he used CPR on a family member who had swallowed a quarter. Herold said Eric Talley had taught his children CPR.
Eric Talley was 40 when he started with the police force, his father said, and he was working to become a drone operator because he thought it would be safer.
“He had a great sense of humor, he was a prankster,” Homer Talley said. “He loved his family more than anything."
Eric Talley is the sixth Boulder officer killed in the line of duty.
The last Boulder officer killed in the line of duty was Ofcr. Beth Haynes in 1994. Haynes, who was 26 at the time of her death, was responding to a domestic disturbance call.
Eric Talley graduated from Highland High School, part of Albuquerque Public Schools, in 1988.
"Like so many of our graduates, Officer Talley could have done anything he wanted with his life, and he chose to serve and protect," said APS Superintendent Scott Elder in a letter expressing condolences to the victims' families.
"In our sadness and grief, I hope we can remember the example Officer Talley leaves us all. We won't forget [Officer] Talley put others before himself, was dedicated to public service, and by all accounts loved his family deeply."
Eric Talley was one of three Boulder officers who rescued a family of ducklings and their mother from a drainage ditch in South Boulder in June 2013, according to the Boulder Daily Camera.
"Boulder police Officer Eric Talley waded into the calf-deep water to try and round up the ducks himself," the article says.
Several metro area law enforcement agencies held a procession following the shooting Monday, and first responders mourned Eric Talley's loss on Twitter.
Community members laid flowers at a memorial with Eric Talley's patrol vehicle outside BPD's headquarters Monday night and Tuesday.
"I want people to understand that just because it happened once doesn't mean it will happen again," said J.J. Cone, a 17-year-old who brought flowers to the memorial Tuesday morning. "We lose hundreds of officers every year to violence while they are in the line of duty. ... I just came here to show my support for the law enforcement community and everything they do to keep our community safe on a daily basis."
Courtney Merlin, who dropped off flowers with her 5-year-old daughter Clove, said she thought her husband was at the store when the shooting happened.
"He ended up deciding to go to the store after work and he wasn’t there," Merlin said. "We just wanted to say thank you to the helpers. ... [Eric Talley] has seven children, and I hope they know that their dad was such a hero. He was a hero."
Gary Hirata, a retired San Jose Police officer, left a San Jose PD patch on the hood of the police SUV.
"If you’re in the police business long enough you’re going to see some tragedies and we’ve experienced that at our police department, so I felt compelled to come here and pay my respects to Officer Talley," Hirata said.
The Tunnel to Towers Foundation said that it will payoff the mortgage for Talley's home by Easter.
The foundation was founded in honor of New York firefighter Stephen Siller, who died on September 11, 2001. It has spent more than $250 million to pay off mortgages for the families of law enforcement officers and firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty.
“Officer Talley did not know what he would face inside that supermarket, but he didn’t hesitate to rush in. He bravely ran towards the shooter, and gave up his life trying to save the lives of strangers,” said Tunnel to Towers Chairman and CEO Frank Siller. “Officer Talley was driven by his faith and love of his family. I am calling on all Americans to join our mission to pay off his family’s mortgage by Easter Sunday. We want to lift the financial burden off the family as quickly as possible.”
BPD said one suspect was taken into custody, BPD said. That person was injured in the incident and is being treated.
Any witnesses are asked to call BPD at 303-441-3333.
SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Boulder King Soopers shooting