Memorial service held to honor slain Colorado police officer

LAFAYETTE, Colo. (AP) — A slain Colorado police officer credited with preventing more people from being killed in a mass shooting at a supermarket will be honored at a memorial service before being laid to rest Tuesday.

More than 500 law enforcement vehicles took part in a procession that escorted the hearse carrying Officer Eric Talley’s body to the service at Flatirons Community Church in the city of Lafayette. A line of officers waited for Talley’s casket to arrive, then his family followed it inside the church, escorted by police.

The large church is about 10 miles (16 kilometers) east of Boulder where Talley, 51, and nine other people were killed after a gunman opened fire at a grocery store on March 22.

The service is open to the public, but attendance in the church’s auditorium, which normally holds up to 4,200 people, is restricted because of the coronavirus pandemic. Organizers are encouraging people to watch a livestream on television news stations.

A day earlier, a Roman Catholic Mass conducted in Latin was celebrated for Talley at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver, where Archbishop Samuel Aquila said Talley sacrificed his life and showed what is best about police officers, whom he said are too often “taken for granted.”

Officers arrived at the grocery store one minute and 40 seconds after being alerted to the shooting last week, according to Boulder police. They said Talley led an initial team of officers inside within 30 seconds of arriving and that the gunman fired at them, killing Talley.

“No other individuals were shot or killed after these brave officers engaged the suspect,” police said in a tweet last week.

Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 21, who was wounded in the leg, has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder over shots fired at another officer. Prosecutors expect to file more charges as the investigation progresses.

One of Alissa’s public defenders told a judge during his first court appearance that they needed to assess Alissa’s mental illness but did not provide details about his condition.

Talley leaves behind a wife and seven children. He grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and took an untraditional route to becoming a police officer. He had a master’s degree in computer communications but left his office job to join the department in 2010 at age 40 because he wanted to serve his community, his father Homer “Shay” Talley has said.

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Slevin reported from Denver. Nieberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.