LAFAYETTE, Colo. (Reuters) – Hundreds of people lined the streets outside Flatirons Community Church in Lafayette, Colorado, on a freezing Tuesday morning to pay tribute to a police officer killed in last week’s mass shooting at a grocery store in Boulder.
Some waved American flags and signs in support of law enforcement while officers on horseback looked on solemnly. One riderless horse stood to the side in a symbolic gesture to honor fallen Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley.
“You don’t want to be a part of this, but it is an amazing show of respect and support,” said Caroline Siegfried, who attended the public memorial and said she knew Teri Leiker, one of the 10 people killed by a lone gunman in the shooting at the King Soopers store.
Talley’s casket, covered with the American flag and escorted by members of law enforcement agencies, slowly made its way to the front of the church, accompanied by the skirl of bagpipes.
Talley, 51 and a father of seven, was described by family and colleagues as a kind man who cared deeply about his community and was quick to jump into tough tasks.
“When called into service, when given the chance to help others, Eric did so selflessly and without hesitation,” Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold said in the eulogy of her colleague.
The shirt from Talley’s uniform and a drone he operated for the department were displayed on the church’s stage alongside photos and flowers.
“Officer Talley gave his life just as he lived it – in the service of others,” said Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who spoke at the memorial. “Although it is painful, it is also a joy to remember officer Talley for who he was.”
The bloodshed in Colorado was the nation’s second mass shooting in less than a week, after a gunman fatally shot eight people at three Atlanta-area day spas on March 16.
The two attacks have re-ignited a national debate over gun rights and prompted President Joe Biden to call for new legislation from Congress.
A private funeral service for Talley was held on Monday at the Cathedral Basilica in Denver.
(Reporting by Keith Coffman in Lafayette, Colorado; Additional reporting and writing by Maria Caspani in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler)