Police officer Eric Talley was the first to respond when a gunman opened fire at a Boulder, Colorado, supermarket on Monday afternoon. The 51-year-old father of seven was one of 10 people killed in the mass shooting.
Talley rushed to the scene of a King Soopers supermarket around 2:30 p.m. and was fatally shot, Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold said during a news conference. The 51-year-old had been with the department since 2010, serving in numerous roles.
Herold called his quick response at the scene "heroic."
"I'm grateful for the police officers that responded, and I am so sorry about the loss of Officer Talley," she said, holding back tears.
Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty said Talley's life was "cut much too short," and said a "painstaking investigation is already underway." The victims' names were made public Tuesday morning. One person was taken into custody at the scene and the investigation is ongoing.
Dougherty described Talley as "one of the outstanding officers of the Boulder Police Department."
The fallen officer leaves behind seven children, ages 5 to 18, the police department said.
"He loved his kids and his family more than anything," Talley's father told local media in a statement. In a phone interview with CBS News, Shay Talley said he was "not surprised at all" that his son put his life on the line to help others, because "that's who he was."
He said he hoped his son would be remembered "as a father, as a police officer who wanted to serve, and a person with a good heart — because he truly did have a good heart."
Eric Talley's sister Kirstin took to Twitter on Monday night to express her profound grief.
"Officer Eric Talley is my big brother. He died today in the Boulder shooting," she tweeted. "My heart is broken. I cannot explain how beautiful he was and what a devastating loss this is to so many. Fly high my sweet brother. You always wanted to be a pilot (damn color blindness). Soar."
Speaking at the White House on Tuesday, President Biden called Talley "the definition of an American hero."
"You know when he pinned on that badge yesterday morning, he didn't know what the day would bring," Mr. Biden said. "He thought he'd be coming home to his family and his seven children. When the moment to act came, Officer Talley did not hesitate in his duty, making the ultimate sacrifice in his effort to save lives. That's the definition of an American hero."
Governor Jared Polis expressed his grief in a statement, saying that Talley lost his life "working to save the lives of others." He called the shooting "devastating" and "senseless."
During a news briefing Tuesday, Herold told reporters that Talley's entire family was in her office just two weeks ago as his son received an award.
"One of his children swallowed a quarter, and because Officer Talley taught his children CPR, one of his children was able to save the little boy's life," she said. "The Boulder Police Department gave his son an award for lifesaving."
She described Talley as "a very kind man," and said he left an earlier career to go into police work because he "felt a higher calling."
"He loved this community. And he's everything that policing deserves and needs," she said.
Dozens of law enforcement agencies congregated for a procession of police cars, fire trucks and ambulances to honor Talley on Monday night near the intersection of the shooting.
Talley "joins the ranks of six other Boulder police officers who lay down their lives for the people of our city," Boulder Mayor Sam Weaver said during Tuesday's briefing. "We can never thank Officer Talley or his family enough for their sacrifice, but we will not forget it. Many who are alive today is because of the actions of Eric Talley and other first responders, and their bravery is a blessing to us all."
In a statement Tuesday, former President Barack Obama also praised Talley's heroism.
"We are also grateful for the courage of Officer Eric Talley, who ran into danger to protect others, and we hope his memory and the memory of all those we've lost will not be in vain," he said, adding that he and Michelle grieve with the families of all of the victims.
-Jonathan Vigliotti contributed reporting.