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Police officer killed in Colorado grocery store shooting was father of 7

Boulder police officer Eric Talley, 51, is being lauded as a hero as the first officer to respond to an active shooter at a local grocery store.
/ Source: TODAY

A police officer and father of seven who had been training as a drone operator in order to get off the front lines for his family's sake was one of 10 people killed by a gunman at a Colorado grocery store on Monday.

Boulder police officer Eric Talley, 51, is being lauded for his heroism as the first officer to arrive at the scene due to reports of an active shooter at the King Soopers grocery store, Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold said.

"He served in numerous roles supporting the Boulder Police Department and the community of Boulder, and I have to tell you, the heroic action of this officer when he responded to the scene," Herold said.

Officials have identified the suspect as a 21-year-old man named Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, who is in custody and has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder, NBC News reported. No details have been provided as to a possible motive for the shooting.

Herold identified the other victims as Denny Strong, 20, Neven Stanisic, 23, Rikki Olds, 25, Tralona Bartkowiak, 49, Suzanne Fountain, 59, Teri Leiker, 51, Kevin Mahoney, 61, Lynn Murray, 62, and Jody Waters, 65.

Talley, whose children range in age from 7 to 20, "loved his kids and his family more than anything," his father told NBC News. He joined the police force at 40 in 2010 and had been training to make a transition to a safer role.

"He was looking for a job to keep himself off of the front lines and was learning to be a drone operator," his father said. "He didn’t want to put his family through something like this."

Talley's younger sister mourned his tragic loss on Monday and shared a photo of them together as children.

"Officer Eric Talley is my big brother," she tweeted. "He died today in the Boulder shooting. 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."

Talley's body was taken from the scene on Monday night in solemn procession of flashing red and blue lights, with bystanders offering salutes.

"Rest In peace Officer Eric Talley. Your service will never be forgotten #BoulderShooting" the Boulder Police Department tweeted.

Law enforcement experts say his actions likely prevented additional deaths.

"There is the need for officers to act immediately to stop the threat," former Seattle police chief Carmen Best said on "The 11th Hour with Brian Williams" on Monday night. "There is training that goes along with this, but it is inherently dangerous and inherently risky, but that’s what needs to happen in order to save lives."