Officer killed in Denver-area shooting 'targeted' due to his profession, police say

Denver-area police on Tuesday said that an officer who was killed in a shooting near a local library the previous day was “ambushed” and “targeted” because he was a police officer.

Arvada Police Chief Link Strate said in a press conference that Officer Gordon Beesley, who served with the police department for 19 years as a patrol, motorcycle traffic and school resource officer, was “targeted because he was wearing an Arvada Police uniform and a badge.” 

“Officer Beesley was ambushed by a person who expressed hatred of police officers,” Strate said of the suspect, who was also killed Monday.

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Strate, who did not identify the suspect, said the alleged gunman’s name would be released later by the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office. A third person, described as a "Samaritan," was also killed in the shooting.

“The death of Officer Gordon Beesley was a tragic loss to this community and to this department, but most importantly, it is an inconceivable loss to his family,” the police chief added of the slain officer, who he said had been working patrol over the summer while on break from his role as a resource officer at Oberon Middle School. 

“Communities need to know and understand what they ask of their police officers, the sacrifices that they make, the costs to them, for your safety,” Strate continued. 

The chief said that police believe Monday’s shooting, which took place about 7 miles northwest of downtown Denver, was a “deliberate act of violence” and an “isolated incident,” adding that the “community is safe.” 

Police have also revealed the identity of the third person killed in the shooting: 40-year-old John Hurley. While Strate did not offer specific details on what exactly Hurley did during the attack, he called the man a “true hero who likely disrupted what could have been a larger loss of life.”

The police chief said that the department was “hurt and troubled” by the deadly attack, but added that officers were “committed to the protection of this community, our community that we all love, and to honor Officer Beesley and Mr. Hurley.” 

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Police have not yet determined what led to the shooting, as the investigation is still ongoing, Strate said Tuesday. 

He did say that police did not believe there was a connection between Hurley and the suspect. 

The fatal shooting came just months after a mass shooting at a Boulder grocery store, killing 10 people, including a police officer. 

Arvada Mayor Marc Williams said Monday that Arvada police officers had helped respond to the Boulder shooting, adding that Monday’s attack “is by far the saddest day for our Police Department."