(CBS4) – The father of fallen Boulder police officer Eric Talley said his son should be remembered as a man of integrity and faith, as well as someone who did "the right thing." Talley was one of 10 people who died Monday in a shooting at the Table Mesa King Soopers.
According to Boulder police, he was the first officer to respond to the scene.
"He was there to help people and he was unselfish," said father Shay Talley.
Talley said he learned about the shooting while he and his wife were watching the news at their home in Texas.
"We looked at each other and said, 'I hope Eric is not involved in that,'" he said.
Within minutes, Talley's phone rang. While he missed the first call from his daughter-in-law, he quickly called back and learned what had happened.
"My 16-year-old granddaughter answered," Talley said. "I said, 'what's going on?' and she said, 'Dad is dead.' I said, 'what?' She said it again."
Talley said the initial pain and anger have gone away but there will always be a dull pain in his heart. Since his son's death, he has leaned on his faith and been overwhelmed by the support from the community.
"I had no idea how many people, how many lives he had touched, but apparently, he's touched a lot," Talley said.
Much of that occurred while Eric Talley was a Boulder police officer. At 40 years old, he ditched his well-paying tech job and pursued a career with BPD.
"He started at the bottom as a rookie doing patrol work," Talley said.
According to his father, Talley had recently been training to be a drone pilot for the department.
"It was the reason he didn't want to be on the front line because he didn't want to put his family through what they're going through now," Talley said.
Talley leaves behind a wife and seven children. His father says, due to the support from the community they are doing OK now, but he worries about them moving forward.
He described his son as someone who loved his family and his job dearly. Mr. Talley said he and his son talked upwards of three times per week over the phone.
"He grew into a man that a father could only hope to have, and I just want people to know that all of the hype and things you hear about Eric, it's not embellished, it's absolutely true," Talley said.
While many around the country will remember Officer Talley as a hero for charging into the King Soopers, his father hopes people will also remember him for doing the right thing.
"If he's known for anything (I want it to be) for doing the right thing, because that's what he did by running in there, he did the right thing," Talley said. I hope he can inspire other officers, other people, other politicians ... inspire them to do the right thing."
Officer Eric Talley's private funeral mass is Monday at Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Denver.
The public memorial service is Tuesday at the Flatirons Community Church in Lafayette. Space will be limited because of COVID restrictions. CBS4 will cover that service live on CBSN Denver.
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