I have been reluctant to wade into the conversation about the events in Olde Town from a couple of weeks ago. First of all, we almost never get good information early in the process, so it’s hard …
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I have been reluctant to wade into the conversation about the events in Olde Town from a couple of weeks ago. First of all, we almost never get good information early in the process, so it’s hard to form too many coherent thoughts without good information. And, secondly, so much emotion and so many reactions early in the process don’t move things forward too far. But, I think I’m ready to wade in.
I think we now know enough about the events of the day to safely conclude that Officer Beesley was the victim of an ambush. I think it’s safe to say that Officer Beesley was not specifically the target — that is, it was not personal — but that the bad guy would have attempted to kill whichever of the Arvada P.D. responded to the call. This … this! ... is why I will always give the benefit of the doubt to the men and women in blue, until the facts point the other direction. There are not many jobs — thankfully — that require a man or woman to kiss their families good-bye in the morning, and then go to work and put on a uniform that makes them a target. The men and women in blue make it their job every day to stand between the darkness and the innocents in the world; if occasionally one of them lets too much of the darkness seep into their souls, that is a sad reality (it was in Joseph Conrad). But I am eternally grateful for their presence between my children and the demons.
Given that the bad guy emptied his shotgun after murdering Officer Beesley, and then ran back to his car to get an AR-15, there is no doubt that it was his intention to kill more people—perhaps many more. And, except for the presence of a good guy with a gun, there would be a lot more mourning in Arvada today. Johnny Hurley took matters into his own hands, running towards the gunfire, and, somehow drawing on an internal strength and some training, confronted and killed the bad guy, who had a vastly superior weapon. I’m always happier when the people who are trained, equipped and paid to do such things do them, but it’s hard to argue that Johnny Hurley didn’t do a great, great service to the community. Honestly, I don’t know what sort of financial arrangements have been made for his family, but, if you ask me, his family should receive the same municipal life insurance and pension that any great public servant receives.
What possessed Johnny Hurley to pick up the AR-15 is something we will likely never know for sure. I like to think that, in the moment of adrenaline, you’ve put a psychopath on the ground, Hurley just didn’t trust that the bad guy was going to stay down. So he picked up the long rifle on the ground to secure it away from the bad guy and, potentially, away from a co-bad guy. Unfortunately, that leaves him standing there with an AR-15 when Officer Number Two comes on the scene. And Officer #2 did exactly what he/she is trained to do. Sadly for all of us, that resulted in the death of Johnny Hurley. It was a tragic sequence of unfortunate circumstances.
I tell you what: the person right now I feel a lot of compassion for is Officer #2. He/she did everything right. But, I’m pretty sure that doesn’t bring a lot of solace when the result is that you killed a hero. I don’t blame him/her, I don’t want there to be any — ANY — disciplinary actions, and I seriously hope that he/she is getting whatever psychological help the department and the city can provide.
Sometimes, you do everything right, and the result still stinks. God Bless the Blue. And may the Lord have mercy on the soul of Johnny Hurley.
Michael Alcorn is a teacher and writer who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. His new novel, “Valkyrie’s Kiss,” a finalist in the ScreenCraft Book Competition, is available now at michaeljalcorn.net. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.
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