John Hurley is a "true hero" whose actions during a Colorado shooting spree this week probably saved other people's lives while sacrificing his own, Arvada police say.
Police Chief Link Strate provided few details of Hurley's involvement with the shooting Monday in the suburban Denver city's historic Old Town district. Officer Gordon Beesley was fatally shot; the gunman also died.
Police said the shooting appeared to be an ambush targeting Beesley. Hurley, 40, drew praise for coming "into the Old Town area in the middle of a shooting" and preventing further violence. The shooter and Hurley appeared to have no prior connections, police said.
“He is a true hero and likely disrupted what could have been a larger loss of life,” Strate said.
A verified GoFundMe account set up by Brian Romero, a friend of Hurley, for his family had raised about $10,000 by Wednesday afternoon. Romero says Hurley lived and worked in Colorado most of his life and left behind "a grieving family" that includes his parents and sister, Erin.
"Johnny lived simply and had meager possessions," the GoFundMe says. "He loved the outdoors, had a passion for food and cooking, and loved spending time with family."
Cody Souels, a longtime friend of Hurley, said he was a caterer and described him as loyal and hard working. Souels told Fox 31 that, in high school, Hurley was outspoken and liked to take on challenges. Souels said he wasn't surprised when police described his friend as a hero.
“He seems like he would stand up for somebody if there was something going on,” Souels said.
The Jefferson County Coroner’s Office identified the gunman as Ronald Troyke, 59, and said he was killed by multiple gunshot wounds. Authorities were working to determine the motive.
"We don’t have all the facts," Strate said. "I can tell you that Gordon 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.”
Beesley, a married father of two, was a 19-year veteran of the Arvada department. He served as a school resource officer at Oberon Middle School but was working patrol and motorcycle traffic duty while schools were out for the summer. Police say Beesley responded to a call about a disturbance near the city's library around 1:15 p.m. Monday. About 15 minutes later, 911 calls reporting a shooting began coming in.
"It is with heavy hearts we send our condolences to the Beesley family and the Arvada Police Department," Jefferson County Public Schools said in a statement. "Officer Beesley served as school resource officer ... for over 10 years as a deeply valued school and community partner. We honor and thank him for his dedication to our students, school, district, and community. He will be missed."
According to his school resource officer biography, he played the drums in a band and enjoyed hiking, biking, skiing and camping with his family. His motto: “Look for the good in every day.”
David Rupert, a counselor at Oberon Middle School, told the local CBS station that Beesley was among his best friends and an “incredible man” who found joy in helping others. Rupert's most vivid memory is when Beesley created a bond with a young student who feared police officers.
“They knew that he was there for them,” Rupert said. “He generally showed concern and care and that he was there for their well being, and it exuded from him.”
Cecelia Palumbo says she was one of the students positively impacted by Beesley’s kindness while she was a student in 2014. She described him as “more than a police officer.”
“He loved everybody,” Palumbo said. “He helped me through bullying, and he was the kind of person that would literally give you lunch money.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Arvada shooting victims: Officer Gordon Beesley, 'hero' John Hurley