For years, Eric Talley had a stable job in information technology that provided for his children and his wife, who educated their seven children in their Colorado home.

But in 2010, after one of his closest friends died in a DUI crash, he quit, left behind his master’s degree, and enrolled in the police academy at age 40, according to his friends and family.

“It was remarkable to me that somebody would go to law enforcement from IT,” Jeremy Herko, who is now a lieutenant with the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, told The Washington Post. “He lost pay. He lost time away from his family. He joined the police academy without a guaranteed job.”


This photo tweeted by the Boulder Police Department late Monday, March 22, 2021, shows Officer Eric Talley. Courtesy of Boulder Police Department via AP

When a gunman opened fire inside King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colo., on Monday, Talley, 51, was among the first responders to run in the door. He was fatally shot along with nine other people, Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold said in a news conference.

“My heart goes out to the victims of this incident and I’m grateful for the police officers that responded,” said Herold, who called Talley’s actions “heroic” as she held back tears. “I am so sorry about the loss of Officer Talley.”

At a news conference Tuesday, at which law enforcement officials released the names of all 10 people killed, Boulder Mayor Sam Weaver called Talley a “truly heroic public servant” who “joins the ranks of six other Boulder police officers who have laid down their lives for the people of our city.”


“Today we remember, we appreciate and we honor the lives of those who were killed,” Weaver said. “One of those who we remember is Boulder police officer Eric Talley, who was gunned down as he valiantly protected those in mortal danger.”

Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., who represents Boulder, said there are “families that are grieving today, woke up today without their loved ones, including an officer who bravely died in the line of duty, protecting this community.”

“His service and his sacrifice will never be forgotten,” Neguse said.

Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty, a Democrat, pointed out the patrol car behind him as he spoke: “Here in his honor.”

Talley, Dougherty said, “died charging into the line of fire to save people who were simply trying to live their lives and go food shopping.”

Talley enrolled at the Community College of Aurora’s Police Training Academy in 2010. Herko recalled meeting Talley on their first day of school and bonding with him almost instantly.


“He is drawn to people, and people are drawn to him,” Herko said. “It’s easy to be drawn to a guy like that. I was fortunate that he liked me as well.”

At the academy, Talley shared how his friend’s death had motivated him to join the force. “He was pretty driven to join law enforcement,” Herko said.

After Talley obtained his certification, he joined the Boulder police department in 2010, where he would take on “numerous roles,” Herold said.

As an officer, he first made headlines for a heartwarming act of animal rescue.

In 2013, he was part of a trio of officers who rescued 11 small ducklings and their mother that were trapped in a drainage ditch, the Daily Camera reported. During the nearly one-hour-long operation, the paper reported, officers first used a net to try to catch the family of ducklings.

When that didn’t work, Talley trudged through the calf-deep water to round up the ducks by hand as another officer grabbed them one by one.


“He was drenched after this,” Boulder police 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 worked for a time in the Martin Acres neighborhood, where he met with neighbors and helped set up a “community-based” police initiative, the neighborhood newsletter reported in 2015.

When Talley was not patrolling the streets, Herko said, he was the type of father who bought a 15-passenger van so his large family would be more comfortable on the road.

“That was his life,” Herko said. “He absolutely loved his job and wanted to serve the community.”

His father, Homer Talley, told KMGH that his son was working to become a drone operator, a job he thought would be safer.

“He loved his kids and his family more than anything,” his father said. “He didn’t want to put his family through something like this, and he believed in Jesus Christ.”


In the hours after the shooting, his department praised his work on the force. “Rest In peace Officer Eric Talley. Your service will never be forgotten,” tweeted the Boulder police.

Authorities said on Monday that an unidentified suspect in the shooting is in custody; police have not disclosed details about any possible motive. Herold said police will “work night and day” to complete the investigation, which she said could take up to five days.

Outside the grocery store late Monday, a procession of police cars escorted the ambulance carrying Talley’s body as officers and first responders stood along the road saluting and holding an American flag.

Herko said he last spoke to Talley on Sunday. Herko had sent him a picture of his family playing a board game that Talley had recommended. Soon after learning about the shooting on Monday, Herko said, he texted Talley to make sure he was okay.

“But of course, he did not respond,” Herko said.

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