Boulder, CO – Boulder Police Department (BPD) Officer Eric Talley was murdered in the line of duty during a mass shooting at a King Soopers grocery store on Monday afternoon.
The 51-year-old officer was the first to arrive at the store after the department received a report of shots fired and someone carrying a rifle at the King Soopers store located at 3600 Mesa Drive, BPD Chief Maris Herold told reporters during a solemn news conference on Monday night.
The first 911 call came into the dispatch center at about 2:32 p.m., according to KUSA.
“Alright, it looks like we have an active shooter,” the dispatcher told officers over the radio.
Police arriving at the scene began encountering shooting victims before they’d even entered the building, the audio recordings showed.
“Party down. In front of the store,” one officer radioed. “Does not match the shooter description…possibly two parties down.”
The dispatcher notified the officers that “multiple calls” were coming from inside the business from shoppers who were trapped inside the store, trying to hide.
“I’ve got another party down just inside the doors,” an officer alerted at 2:37 p.m. “The shooter is inside. He just shot at us twice.”
One minute later, another officer radioed that there was an “officer down” inside the store, leading to a “gunfight” between the shooter and police, according to the radio traffic recordings.
“Multiple shots being fired at us…We’re taking multiple rounds,” one officer told dispatch. “So far, potentially one gunman, armed with a long gun, potentially near the back of the store.”
One officer said the gunman was wearing a tactical vest.
Police continued to notify dispatch about additional victims and said that some people would need to be airlifted.
As Officer Talley’s fellow officers tried to reach him, they also expressed concerns the shooter was using him as part of an ambush, according to radio traffic.
“I need to push in to that officer. He’s about 30 yards inside the store, down. We cannot get to him,” an officer said at 3:05 p.m. “We have no known location of the shooter. We think he might be setting up an ambush.”
Additional officers made contact with the gunman at 3:20 p.m.
He was taken into custody and allegedly told police he was the only shooter according to radio traffic.
Fifty-four minutes passed from the time of the initial 911 call until the time the shooter was apprehended, KUSA reported.
Ten people were gunned down during the horrific attack, to include Officer Talley, Chief Herold told reporters.
During a press conference on Tuesday morning, the chief identified the nine additional victims as 20-year-old Denny Stong, 23-year-old Neven Stanisic, 25-year-old Rikki Olds, 49-year-old Tralona Bartkowiak, 59-year-old Suzanne Fountain, 51-year-old Teri Leiker, 61-year-old Kevin Mahoney, 62-year-old Lynn Murray, and 65-year-old Jody Waters.
The alleged gunman has been identified as 21-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa.
The shooter suffered a “through-and-through” gunshot wound to the leg during the incident and is currently recovering at a local hospital, officials said during the press conference on Tuesday morning.
He was the only person shot during the incident who survived, according to police.
He will be booked into the Boulder County jail on 10 counts of first-degree murder as soon as he is released from the hospital.
Chief Herold said the investigation into the mass shooting will take at least five days to complete.
“My heart goes out to the victims,” she said, breaking into tears. “I’m grateful for the police officers that responded.”
Chief Herold said Officer Talley, an 11-year veteran of the department, took “heroic action” when he arrived at the scene of the active shooting.
“Officer Talley responded to the scene – was the first on the scene – and he was fatally shot,” she said. “I also want to commend the heroic actions of the officers responding not only from Boulder PD, but from across the county and other parts of this region. These officers’ actions fell nothing short of being heroic.”
The motive for the attack is unknown, and investigators are working to determine whether or not the gunman knew any of the victims or had any ties to the supermarket, USA Today reported.
“This is a tragedy and a nightmare for Boulder County,” Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty said on Monday night. “These were people going about their day, doing their shopping. I promise the victims and the people of the state of Colorado that we will secure justice.”
A line of emergency vehicles and law enforcement officers escorted Officer Talley’s body from the scene after nightfall.
Multiple citizens lined the route, with some saluting the procession as it passed by, USA Today reported.
Officer Talley leaves behind seven children ranging in age from seven to 20, his father, Homer Talley, told KUSA.
Homer said his son handled the active shooter situation exactly as he would have expected him to.
“[It] didn’t surprise me he was the first one there,” he told KUSA.
Homer said Officer Talley was working to become a drone operator because he believed it would be safer than being on the streets.
“He didn’t want to put his family through something like this,” the slain officer’s father told the Daily Mail.
He said his son was a “prankster” who had “a great sense of humor,” KUSA reported.
“He loved his family more than anything,” Homer added.
Officer Talley graduated from the Aurora Police Training Academy at the age of 40 after quitting his stable information technologies job in the wake of the death of a close friend who was killed in a DUI crash, the Daily Mail reported.
“I feel numb,” Chief Herold said on Tuesday morning. “It’s tragic. This officer had seven children…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 and he loved this community. He’s everything that policing deserves and needs.”
“He was willing to die to protect others,” she concluded.
— Boulder Police Dept. (@boulderpolice) March 23, 2021
Officer Eric Talley is my big brother. He died today in the Boulder shooting. 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. pic.twitter.com/tgt2DxPsqz
— Kirstin (@Roozersmom) March 23, 2021
— AlanStedman7 (@AlanStedman7) March 23, 2021
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of Boulder Police Department (BPD) Officer Eric Talley, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Boulder Police Department Officer Eric Talley, your life mattered.