Funeral Mass celebrated Monday for slain Colorado officer

Colleen Slevin
Associated Press

Denver – A Roman Catholic funeral Mass was being celebrated Monday for a Colorado police officer shot and killed after rushing into a supermarket where a gunman had opened fire.

The draped casket of Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley, 51, was flanked by six candles during a traditional Latin Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver. Seating was limited because of COVID-19 restrictions but the service was being shown on a livestream provided by the Archdiocese of Denver that is also being shown on television stations.

Officer Eric Talley

Talley’s family planned to attend the service but has asked that they not be shown during the Mass, which is being conducted in the style that pre-dated reforms made by the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, the archdiocese said.

According to police, Talley led an initial team of officers into the store on March 22 within 30 seconds of arriving and the suspect, later identified as Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 21, shot at the officers, killing Talley.

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

Alissa, who was wounded in the leg during an exchange of shots with police, has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder for firing at another officer. Prosecutors expect to file more charges as the investigation continues.

One of Alissa’s public defenders, Kathryn Herold, 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, who grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, took an untraditional route to becoming a police officer. He held a master’s degree in computer communications but left his office job to join the department in 2010 at the age of 40 because he wanted to serve his community, his father Homer “Shay” Talley, 74, told The Associated Press last week.

Talley was a devoted father to seven children and “knew the Lord,” his father said.

A memorial service was also planned for Talley on Tuesday at a large non-denominational church, Flatirons Community Church, in Lafayette. The service is open to the general public but attendance is also restricted because of the pandemic. Organizers are encouraging people to watch a livestream of the service on television news stations.