Chief: Slain Colo. officer was ambushed 'because he was wearing a badge'

The chief also said a "Samaritan," who was killed as well, had helped prevent further bloodshed

By Sam Tabachnik Elise Schmelzer and Noelle Phillips
The Denver Post

ARVADA, Colo. — The police officer killed in Olde Town Arvada was ambushed by a shooter targeting law enforcement, and the victim described by authorities as a "Samaritan" prevented further bloodshed before he was killed as well, police announced Tuesday.

Arvada police Chief Link Strate identified the Samaritan as John Hurley, 40, of Golden, during a news conference at which officials offered few new details about Monday's shooting in the shopping and dining district that also claimed the life of Officer Gordon Beesley.

Officer Gordon Beesley was shot and killed in Arvada, Colorado, on June 21, 2021.
Officer Gordon Beesley was shot and killed in Arvada, Colorado, on June 21, 2021. (Officer Down Memorial Page)

"While we yet don't have all the facts, I can tell you that Gordon was targeted because he was wearing an Arvada police uniform and a badge," Strate said. "Officer Beasly was ambushed by a person who expressed hatred of police officers."

The Jefferson County Coroner's Office identified the shooting suspect as Ronald Troyke, 59, of Arvada, and ruled his death a homicide via multiple gunshot wounds.

Police have offered few details about Monday's events, including identifying who is believed to have shot Toryke and how exactly Hurley came to be involved. It's not clear when other Arvada police officers reached the scene after Beesley responded to initial calls.

Strate called Hurley "a true hero who likely disrupted what could have been a larger loss of life."

When pressed by reporters at Tuesday's news conference for more information on Hurley's role, Detective David Snelling said, "He came into the Olde Town area in the middle of a shooting and prevented any further injury."

The police chief noted, "Through our investigation, we have not made any prior connection between our good Samaritan and our suspect."

Little was known about Hurley on Tuesday evening.

A Colorado Bureau of Investigation records check showed one prior arrest for Troyke, in 1992 in Gilpin County on a misdemeanor third-degree assault charge. The CBI report did not say whether or not he was convicted.

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Troyke also experienced financial problems during the past 30 years, with federal bankruptcy court records showing he filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in 1992 and 2013. And Jefferson County court records show he was evicted in 1995 and sued in 1996 over a debt by a property management company.

In the hours following the shooting Monday, police identified the fallen officer as Beesley, a 19-year veteran of the Arvada department. Beesley served as a school resource officer at Oberon Middle School, but was working in the patrol division during the summer break.

Police officers investigate the scene of an early afternoon shooting in Olde Town Arvada on Monday, June 21, 2021 in Arvada, Colo. 
Police officers investigate the scene of an early afternoon shooting in Olde Town Arvada on Monday, June 21, 2021 in Arvada, Colo.  (Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via AP)

Around 1:15 p.m. Monday, Beesley responded to a call about a suspicious incident near the Arvada library, police said. Soon after, calls about a shooting poured into the 911 dispatch center.

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The midday shooting sent shoppers and workers fleeing to the backs of stores, while others scampered on foot to find shelter.

Audrey Potter was in the back office of the So Radish restaurant on Olde Wadsworth Boulevard when she heard gunshots. The general manager looked at the security cameras and saw people running — but she had no idea just how close the restaurant would be to the action.

Another employee began ushering staff and customers into the back room, where people hid behind tables and chairs.

"It didn't seem real until I saw holes in the window," Potter said Tuesday from behind the bar.

One of the restaurant's custom front window panes was boarded up, the aftereffects of multiple bullets flying through the glass. High above the bar, two bullet holes were visible in the metal vent.

"I felt sick yesterday," Potter said.

Written on the plywood boarding up the window was a small thank-you note to So Radish's staff from someone who took shelter there.

The vegan restaurant, as well as others nearby operated by the same owners, remained closed Tuesday to "give staff a day to process," Potter said. She came in to do payroll, but admitted it was a little hard to focus.

Olde Town Arvada had a quiet feel Tuesday, with several businesses closed. A handful of people stopped to take photos of the memorial near the town's main plaza, a small sign reading "In memory of lives lost, June 21, 2021" surrounded by a wreath full of purple and yellow flowers.

(c)2021 The Denver Post

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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