Elise Schmelzer and Sam Tabachnik
The Denver Post
An Arvada police officer fatally shot “good Samaritan” Johnny Hurley in Olde Town after Hurley killed a gunman intent on murdering police officers and picked up the gunman’s AR-15, investigators said Friday.
Minutes earlier, the gunman ambushed Arvada police Officer Gordon Beesley, fatally shooting him. Hurley shot the gunman, identified by police as Ronald Troyke, and was holding Troyke’s AR-15 rifle when an Arvada officer arrived, according to a timeline of events released by police.
The chronology is both the first time officials have described how the incident played out and the first time they have publicly acknowledged an Arvada officer killed Hurley. The timeline describes a chaotic scene in the middle of the day in the busy restaurant and shopping district.
Video from a security camera released by police shows Troyke, 59, run up behind Beesley as the officer, a 19-year veteran, responded to a call about a suspicious person at 1:31 p.m. Monday.
“Officer Beesley stopped, turned and immediately was shot twice by the suspect,” the timeline states. “Officer Beesley did not reach for his gun and takes no defensive action — he simply turns in response to the suspect who then shoots and kills him.”
Investigators found a note written by Troyke with multiple statements about wanting to kill police, including, “Today I will kill as many Arvada officers as I possibly can.”
“We lost two heroes on June 21 and we need to respect their memories and their loved ones,” Arvada police Chief Link Strate said in a video released Friday.
A warning, then a “suspicious person”
The incident began with a 12:49 p.m. call to police from Troyke’s brother who asked for a welfare check because Troyke was going to “do something crazy,” according to the timeline.
Just after 1 p.m., Beesley and an unnamed officer went to contact Troyke at his Arvada home, but were unable to find him.
Soon after, at 1:17 p.m., police dispatch received a call about a “suspicious person” in Olde Town Square, police said. A teen reported being approached by an older man who made a weird noise and showed them a condom, police said.
Beesley responded to the square at 1:31 p.m., parking on Webster Street before walking through an alley toward the plaza.
Troyke pulled up in his truck, parked and ran after the officer with a semi-automatic shotgun, police said. Troyke then yelled at Beesley, and shot the officer when he stopped and turned around, according to the timeline.
The surveillance video shows people running after the shooting and Beesley’s body lying in the plaza.
After he killed Beesley, police said, Troyke shot out the windows of a patrol car and fired shots in the air. He then returned to his truck to retrieve an AR-15 rifle.
As the gunman ran back toward Olde Town Square, Hurley shot him with a handgun, according to police. Hurley, 40, of Denver, had been shopping inside the nearby Army Navy Surplus Store when he saw the gunman walk by, a witness previously told The Denver Post.
“A responding Arvada Police Officer then encountered Mr. Hurley, who was holding the suspect’s AR-15,” police wrote. “The officer shot him.”
“Moving forward without Johnny feels impossible”
Strate on Friday called Hurley’s death a tragedy and said again that Hurley’s actions saved lives.
“Johnny’s actions can only be described as decisive, courageous and effective in stopping further loss of life,” he said in the video.
Arvada police, in the news release containing the timeline, repeatedly referred to Hurley as a “hero,” and noted, “it is clear that the suspect bears responsibility for this tragic sequence of events.”
Hurley’s family released their first public statement Friday and thanked the community for its support and love.
“Before Johnny engaged in a clear-eyed response to a dire situation, he was already a wonderful human being with a great enthusiasm for life,” the family said in the statement. “Johnny had an inquiring mind, independent spirit, and strong principles, though he was beholden to no single cause or belief. He called out injustice when he saw it. He brought joy to many people and looked for the good in others. Moving forward without Johnny feels impossible. We are so proud of him.”
Investigators did not release the name of the officer who shot and killed Hurley. An investigation into the officer’s actions continues, First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King said in a statement Friday.
The officer remained on administrative leave Friday while the investigation continued.
“We are committed to transparency, and the complete results of the investigation into Johnny Hurley’s death and all pertinent facts will be made known at the completion of the investigation, when all witnesses have been interviewed and evidence collected, and when doing so does not compromise reaching a just result,” King said.
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