LAFAYETTE, Colo. (CNS) — Boulder Police Sgt. Adrian Drelles told the crowd gathered at a public memorial service at Flatirons Community Church in Lafayette for slain Officer Eric Talley March 30 that he “died a hero, giving his all to save others.”
“He did not die in vain and he did not die alone. He was with his brothers and sisters in blue. … I know we will see you again someday. Until then, we have your back and we will continue the work where you left off,” said Drelles, Talley’s supervisor and friend.
Talley, an 11-year veteran of the Boulder Police Department, was one of 10 people fatally shot at a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder the afternoon of March 22.
A day before the public memorial, a funeral Mass for Talley, a devout Catholic, was celebrated at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver.
Father James Jackson, Father Dan Nolan and other priests of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter concelebrated the Requiem Mass in Latin. Fathers Jackson and Nolan also were at the Lafayette service.
Talley leaves behind his wife of 28 years, Leah, and their seven children, ages 7 to 20.
During the Boulder shooting, Talley was the first officer to arrive on the scene, and “from the time Eric entered the store and confronted the suspect, no other civilian was hurt,” Drelles said in his remarks.
“(He) answered a call for help in which he knew people were dying. He saved lives. Many people were pulled out of the building alive after it was all over,” the sergeant said.
Police arrested 21-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa of Arvada, Colorado, for the mass shooting. He has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.
The weapon he used in the attack was an AR-15-style pistol modified with an arm brace, according to news reports.
So far his motive for the shooting rampage is not known, and he is currently undergoing a psychological evaluation as requested by his public defender during Alissa’s first court appearance March 25 and as agreed to by the judge and the prosecution.
Law enforcement officials identified the nine others who died as: 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 Jody Waters, 65. Some were customers and some were store employees. Olds was a store manager.
Drelles was one of several who spoke at the service at Flatirons Community Church, which was filled with Talley’s immediate family and other relatives and hundreds of law enforcement officers. Countless other across Colorado and beyond watched the service on livestream.
“He’s everything policing deserves and needs,” Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold said at the service. “He cared about this community, he cared about Boulder Police Department and he cared about his family. And, he was willing to die to protect others.”
Over 500 law enforcement vehicles took part in a procession that escorted the hearse carrying Talley’s body from Thornton, Colorado, to Lafayette; lining the streets were people with signs and flags.
Officers waited for Talley’s flag-draped casket to arrive, then his family followed it inside the church, escorted by police.
A similar scene took place at Denver’s cathedral basilica, with members of the Denver Police Honor Guard and the Denver Sheriff Honor Guard.
In remarks before the funeral Mass, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila extended his “own personal condolences” and “also the condolences of the entire Catholic community for your husband, for your dad and for your son,” he told the Talleys.
“In situations like this, it is difficult and challenging and we have seen way too many of them in Colorado and yet we have trust and confidence in our God. Eric was a man who gave his life, and Jesus has told us greater love than this no man has than to lay down his life, and Eric lived that,” the archbishop said.
“Just in the testimonies that I have seen of his life, testimonies from other officers, it was evident he was a man of God, one who put Christ first in his life put his family first and put the community and saving others (first), so you have my deepest condolences and know that you are in my prayers and my thoughts,” he said.
He also wanted police officers to know that he is keeping them in his prayers.
“Eric has shown what is best about the service you give to our community, our cities and to our country and as police officers,” Archbishop Aquila said. “I want to honor you for too often you are taken for granted, and yet in situations like this you are the ones who protect human life.
“You know better than any of us that what Eric did was something that you place yourselves in every day, and you save lives, and so I pray today for your protection,” he added.
“I pray today in gratitude for the witness that you give as officers. May our Lord continue to comfort you, Eric Talley’s family, in the days ahead,” the archbishop concluded. “Know that he is in the hands of the father, that he has returned to God and know of our continued prayers for all of you.”
Inside the funeral program for the Flatirons service was a poem Talley’s children wrote for him for Christmas 2019.
It said in part: “Dad, our unsung hero, you’re never too busy to help. You’re always there when we need you. Our praises could never be enough. … May the angels watch over you and guard you on your way. May God bless and protect you and bring you home each day.”