Report: Man who killed Colo. officer was "warped" by anti-police videos
Investigators searched the gunman's internet history after he was killed and found an extensive YouTube history of anti-police and First Amendment auditor videos
By Elise Schmelzer
The Denver Post
ARVADA, Colo. — The gunman who ambushed and killed an Arvada police officer in June planned an attack on officers after developing an obsession with law enforcement and police misconduct while watching hours of YouTube videos every day, investigative documents show.
Ronald Troyke, 59, shot and killed Officer Gordon Beesley on June 21 in Olde Town Arvada, prompting mid-day chaos in the busy commercial district. Johnny Hurley, a man with a concealed weapon who was shopping nearby, killed Troyke before being shot and killed by a responding Arvada police officer who mistook him for an active shooter.
A 1,090-page report outlining the investigation into the shooting provides more details about Troyke and the circumstances that led to the bloodshed in Olde Town Arvada.
The report, obtained by The Denver Post through a public records request, was released this week after prosecutors cleared the officer who killed Hurley of wrongdoing. It includes interviews with Troyke's family and details of Troyke's previous law enforcement encounters.
Two weeks before he killed Beesley, Troyke screamed at Arvada police officers as they arrested a man on felony warrants, the documents show.
Troyke yelled at the officers — members of the department's Community, Outreach, Resource and Enforcement team — challenging their right to arrest the man and insulting them. He referenced his anger at the death of Elijah McClain in the custody of Aurora police officers. Investigators later found a recording of this encounter on Troyke's phone.
The officers tried to speak with him and told him they were not involved in McClain's death, but Troyke did not calm down.
The members of the Community, Outreach, Resource and Enforcement team were the first to call in Troyke as an active shooter the day he ambushed and killed Beesley. He shot Beesley near the team's unmarked office and walked through the adjacent parking lot soon after.
Beesley was in the square responding to a call of a suspicious person after returning from a welfare check at Troyke's unoccupied apartment. Troyke's siblings, who lived out of state, called 911 to request a check on their brother prior to the shootings. They told dispatchers that Troyke earlier that day made suicidal statements over the phone and that he might try to instigate a "suicide by cop." They also said he owned guns.
After the shootings in Olde Town, officers found two notes written by Troyke that espoused hatred for police officers. One note was a page long and was found taped to a wall in his apartment and the other was three pages long and found inside Troyke's wallet. The notes described a planned attack on Arvada police officers and "provided a motive of law enforcement officers acting without integrity and not being held accountable."
The writing in the notes prompted the FBI to open a domestic terrorism investigation into Troyke and the June 21 shooting, according to an Arvada police report in the case file.
Troyke had little criminal history besides a drunk driving conviction in 1994 and an arrest for third-degree assault in 1992. Troyke called the Arvada police department in 2016 as a complainant to report a road rage incident and in 2018 to report an attempted break-in to his truck.
Troyke's family told investigators that Troyke began to express hatred toward police nearly a decade ago and that since approximately 2015 he'd spend hours every day on YouTube watching videos about police and that he'd become "warped" by them, police interview transcripts show. It was the only thing Troyke wanted to speak about, they said, though they weren't aware of any negative interactions Troyke personally experienced with law enforcement.
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"He gets up early in the morning and calls my sister up and tells her about all this negative police stuff that YouTube always shows and all the lies and crap they give out and he just, I don't know, he just kept watching it and watching it and just, so I think this is part of it," one of Troyke's relatives told law enforcement.
Investigators searched Troyke's internet history after he was killed and found "an extensive YouTube history which consisted of almost exclusively of anti-police / police misconduct / 1st Amendment auditor videos."
"Through the YouTube history it appeared Ronald watched hours of these videos each day," an investigator's report states.
Troyke's family told law enforcement that he did not hold a steady job after 2015. Investigators found that he worked for a Walmart in the Denver area from June 1 to June 16 but walked off the job. Family and neighbors told police Troyke had no significant friendships.
They said Troyke had owned guns for years. Documents obtained by police show that he purchased the guns used in the attack years prior.
When he was killed, Troyke had more than 100 rounds of ammunition on his person and more rounds in his truck parked nearby.
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