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“I never thought that I would have to go through this twice”: For Boulder police veterans, the death of Officer Eric Talley isn’t their first tragedy

“I never thought that I would have to go through this
twice”: For Boulder police veterans, the death of Officer Eric
Talley isn’t their first tragedy 1

On the afternoon of March 22, Trudy Hunter and Sue Barcklow were half a country apart, but both were going through the same emotions.

Barcklow, a longtime Boulder police officer who now works in the department’s photo radar department, watched as coverage of a shooting at a south Boulder King Soopers played out on her screens.

Barcklow has spent more time than most people in that store. She had worked at that store when she first moved to Boulder prior to joining the department. She once lived nearby. She still often stopped in when she was manning the photo radar van in south Boulder and needed a snack or a break.

But on that day, Barcklow happened to be in California.

“I immediately had that feeling[ something happened to my coworkers, and I’m 1,500 miles away,” she said. “I was glued to my phone or the TV, just feeling helpless.”

Meanwhile, knowing only that an officer had possibly been shot, Hunter was behind the King Soopers store, forced to hold her position as she waited for news.

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Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley (Boulder Police Department / Courtesy photo)

“We didn’t know who it was at that point,” Hunter said. “Another officer came and kind of said she thought it was Eric, but it wasn’t confirmed. We kept our post and kept doing our job.”

Eric was Officer Eric Talley, a 10-year veteran at the department, a father to seven children, and a close friend to both Hunter and Barcklow.

Hunter was partners with Talley for the early part of his career, and she was one of the department’s liaisons to his family should the worst happen. When she was called to the station, she knew that it had.

“At that point, I had an idea it was Eric,” Hunter said. “Then I got to the station and took a closer look at my phone, and I had a voicemail from his mom.”

And then Hunter had to inform Talley’s family that he had been killed in the line of duty along with nine others, shot while charging into the store to confront the gunman.

Talley’s death has been a blow for the entire Boulder Police Department as they laid to rest one of their own, a man who loved board games and Mountain Dew and his family.

“Imagine losing a family member, and that’s what Eric was for us,” Barcklow said. “He was a family member.”

Barcklow said after Talley died, she got a text from another officer that said, “Law enforcement is partly a profession of control. We have lost that control at a time like this. Our job is to begin to move toward some sense of acceptance and hope. Eric would have wanted that for us.” Barcklow said that text hit at one of the reasons losing a fellow officer is so hard.

“As an officer you feel like you should be in control, control of what your suspect is doing, what your victim is doing,” Barcklow said. “We didn’t have any control; just knowing that makes it difficult, and you have to realize that.”

Added Barcklow, “My coworkers feeling helpless and frustrated and angry and sad, mixed emotions that they can’t explain or go through, that’s what’s going to happen, and you cant be skipping over that. The most important thing to remember is you can’t have done anything differently.”

Barcklow knows better than most the feelings that come with losing another officer. Because for veterans of the Boulder Police Department like Barcklow and Hunter, this is unfortunately not the first time they’ve grieved a fallen colleague.

“It’s brought back a lot of stuff,” Barcklow said. “It brought back Beth Haynes, and that feeling that I couldn’t help Beth or help Eric or any of the other victims. That we’ve been exposed again to the world.”

‘It changes you’

Barcklow, Hunter and Beth Haynes were all young officers in 1994, and all three were on duty when Haynes was dispatched to a domestic violence call shortly after midnight April 16, 1994.

A woman named Libby Guyse was holed up in her apartment with her two young children and said her former fiance, Ali Kalamy, 36, had threatened to kill himself. When Haynes arrived at 1590 Eisenhower Drive, she encountered Kalamy outside the apartment armed with a 9 mm semi-automatic gun in his waistband, and a shootout ensued.

“It was near her end of shift and the beginning part of my shift,” Barcklow said. “I remember it like it was yesterday. It was crazy, I remember I was at 17th and Arapahoe, and she screamed a Code 10 (officer in distress). I remember all the craziness on the radio.”

Hunter also responded to the scene, and wound up helping set a perimeter.

“I never thought that I would have to go through this
twice”: For Boulder police veterans, the death of Officer Eric
Talley isn’t their first tragedy 2
Beth Haynes

“You’re hearing shots, but you don’t know where they’re coming from,” Hunter said. “It was just like on Eric’s call, we were told there was one shooter, but there could be two or three. It was similar in the fact that we didn’t know if there was somebody else in the parking lot or in the car.”

A shoot team investigation would later determine Haynes ran from her car to take cover behind another vehicle nearby. Kalamy ran and jumped onto the vehicle she was hiding behind, and before Haynes could roll under the car, he fired down on her as her weapon malfunctioned.

Haynes also managed to hit Kalamy, and he eventually shot himself as responding officers bore down on him.

As new officers, both Barcklow and Hunter had to grapple with seeing the death of one of their colleagues, knowing it could have just as easily been them.

“To go through something like that so early in a career was really something,” Hunter said. “I had to ask myself several times if this was the job I wanted to do, but I also think it really made me the officer I am today, it molded me.”

Hunter said that is now a question every person in the department is once again grappling with.

“It’s not a bad thing if you just can’t do it anymore, you have to really be honest with yourself so that you can still carry out the job, still do the job,” Hunter said. “It made me a stronger, better officer. I hope that will be the same for the newer officers.”

But even for those that stick, going through the loss of a colleague in the line of duty is not without its costs.

“You go one way or the other; you decide the job isn’t for you, or you go all the way in, and I went all the way in,” Barcklow said. “I worked a lot of overtime. I felt my relationship with my husband suffer because of that. It changes you.”

After 27 years as an officer and with a child entering his middle school years, Barcklow finally decided it was time for her to step back.

“My child needed me more than my job did,” Barcklow said. “I knew I had to be there. I missed so many birthday parties, so many times that I said I was going to be home and I wasn’t. That was what I signed up for.”

Being part of the photo radar team means Barcklow gets to spend more time with her family but still gets to work with the department that has come to be another sort of family.

Outside the Boulder police station on 33rd Street is a large stone memorial depicting the names of fallen officers, and Barcklow still stops at it every day.

“I talk to Beth, just to say something, thinking where she should be in her life now,” Barcklow said. “I’m going to do the same thing when Eric’s name is added.”

“I never thought that I would have to go through this
twice”: For Boulder police veterans, the death of Officer Eric
Talley isn’t their first tragedy 3
A memorial of is set up on the cruiser of slain Boulder police officer Eric Talley who died at the King Soopers grocery store where an active shooter killed him and nine others the day before, as seen on Tuesday at the Boulder Police Department. (Timothy Hurst/Staff Photographer)

‘I want to be a hero, like Eric was’

Of course, the fact that Barcklow and Hunter experienced tragedy in their careers has not made what happened in March any easier.

“I never thought that I would have to go through this twice, let alone it being my best, dearest friend,” Hunter said.

Barcklow said Talley’s loss has been so impactful because of the type of officer and man he was to everyone in the department and the community.

“There’s a specific kind of police officer,” Barcklow said. “There’s officers that do their work, do a great job and go home. Then there are those that want to do the best they can and make a difference every day, specifically with individuals. Any tiny little thing he could do, it didn’t matter what it was, that’s what Eric would do.”

Hunter said that was also how Talley was off the job. She remembered once her mother was having trouble setting up some WiFi at her house.

“He was just a wiz with IT and computer stuff, and I’m not really good at it,” Hunter said. “Next thing I know, he’s at my mom’s front door, just like that. He got it working, gave us hugs and out the door he goes.”

As a liaison to his family, Hunter has not even been back on street duty since Talley was killed, as she is busy dealing with services and arrangements for his family. Even as a veteran of nearly 30 years, Hunter is not sure how it will feel going back on patrol when she does return.

“I guess it’s going to be a day-by-day sort of thing,” Hunter said. “I’m not sure how that’s going to go, to be honest with you. I’m sure I’ll do it and get back in the saddle, but yeah, definitely a lot harder.”

While Haynes’ death made Hunter ponder the career ahead of her, Talley’s death has made her reflect on the career behind her.

“I do have to say, I am getting closer to my retirement; I’m not quite sure when that is going to be yet, but I can definitely say that this has made me look at it a little closer and a little sooner,” Hunter said. “I started my career with one of our officers dying, and I hate to say it, but I’m ending my career with my best bud dying. And you know, you always think, I wanted him there when I retired. This was a hit, and it’s going to take a long time. You never get over it, you just don’t.”

Hunter said the department has been making sure to have chaplains and counselors available, and she said other officers have stepped up to help fill in for those like Hunter who have had to take time to help Talley’s family or cope with their grief.

“You have to take care of yourself, sleep and exercise and talk to people, go to counseling,” Hunter said. “You’ve just got to go through the grieving process. All of the officers that are helping cover the street for me, I can’t tell them how thankful I am. I truly love my brothers and sisters, it’s a second family, and we all take care of each other.”

Barcklow said seeing the community come out in support of the department has also helped them cope.

“People in Boulder have been very giving and appreciative,” she said. “All those things make a difference.”

And despite all the heartache his death has caused, Barcklow says they take solace knowing Talley’s actions saved the lives of those he swore to protect, and she knows that if given the chance to do things over again he would charge into the store every time.

“Eric had done his job in this world,” Barcklow said. “If anybody was going to have to be a victim, Eric would have stood up and said, ‘I’ll do it.’ If he had met God, Eric would have said, ‘I’ll do it,’ in spite of all the sadness and pain it’s caused for the department and his family and Boulder and the country.”

And while some may realize the job isn’t for them, Barcklow knows others will continue on in that same spirit in honor of officers like Haynes and Talley, and others will one day follow in their footsteps.

“There’s lot of kids seeing this and thinking, ‘I want to be a hero, like Eric was. I want to be a police officer.’”

“I never thought that I would have to go through this
twice”: For Boulder police veterans, the death of Officer Eric
Talley isn’t their first tragedy 4
The hearse carrying the casket of slain Boulder police officer Eric Talley departs from Flatirons Community Church after a public funeral on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, in Lafayette, Colo. (Timothy Hurst/Staff Photographer)

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