Heartache and remembrances are pouring in for Boulder police Officer Eric Talley, who was killed along with nine other people in a mass shooting Monday at a grocery store in Boulder, Colo.
More details about the others who died at the King Soopers supermarket emerged Tuesday after police were able to notify their families and loved ones. Talley, 51, is being mourned as a brave police officer as well as a husband, a brother and father to seven children.
"Officer Eric Talley is my big brother. He died today in the Boulder shooting," a woman who identified herself as Talley's sister said on Twitter, posting a photo that appeared to show the two of them together when they were children.
"My heart is broken. I cannot explain how beautiful he was and what a devastating loss this is to so many," she added. "Fly high my sweet brother. You always wanted to be a pilot (damn color blindness). Soar."
Boulder police Chief Maris Herold praised Talley as she discussed his death and the terrible carnage at the grocery store.
Herold described the "heroic action of this officer when he responded to the scene," saying he rushed to help when reports came in that someone armed with a "patrol rifle" had opened fire at a large grocery store.
Talley "responded to the scene, was the first on the scene, and he was fatally shot," Herold said.
She added, "I'm grateful for the police officers that responded, and I am so sorry about the loss of Officer Talley."
Talley had been with the Boulder Police Department since 2010, Herold said. The officer had seven children, according to his family.
"He loved his kids and his family more than anything," Talley's father, Homer Talley, said in a statement to local TV news station Denver7.
"He was looking for a job to keep himself off of the front lines and was learning to be a drone operator," Talley said of his son. "He didn't want to put his family through something like this and he believed in Jesus Christ."
The chief said on Tuesday that she had recently hosted Talley's family in her office for a special ceremony in which the police department gave his son an award for lifesaving.
"Officer Talley taught CPR," Herold said, adding that he also taught the techniques to his own family.
"One of his sons swallowed a quarter, and because Officer Talley taught his children CPR, one of his sons was able to save the little boy's life."
Talley served a number of roles in his work for the police department and in support of the local community, Herold said. Talley reportedly held a master's degree in computer science, but he switched careers around age 40.
"I can tell you that 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," Herold said of Talley on Tuesday.
She added, "He loved this community and he's everything that policing deserves and needs."
In 2013, Talley and two other officers drew a crowd – and eventually, a round of applause – when they rescued ducklings that had been swept out of a creek and into a caged drainage ditch. It was Talley who waded into the water to coax the ducklings to a spot where his colleagues could scoop them up.
"He was drenched after this," Sgt. Jack Walker said of Talley at the time. "They would go into these little pipes, and he would have to try and fish them out."
Talley's body was taken from the scene of the shooting at the grocery store in a long procession of police and emergency vehicles, their emergency lights blazing.
The last time a Boulder police officer died in the line of duty was in 1994, according to local TV 9 News.
Hours after Monday's shooting rampage, Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty promised to get justice for Talley and the other victims. Extending his condolences to Talley's family, Dougherty added, "He was, by all accounts, one of the outstanding officers of the Boulder Police Department."
Gov. Jared Polis noted that the senseless killing comes as many people in Colorado and the rest of the country have been feeling more optimistic about emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic.
"As spring sprung this weekend, and vaccines continue to get into arms, lightness creeped back in only for the darkness to descend on us again today," Polis said. "Today we saw the face of evil."
He added he is grieving along with others in the community.