A veteran police officer and a bystander were gunned down in a Denver suburb on Monday in what authorities now describe as a targeted attack by someone who “expressed hatred” for members of law enforcement.

The episode in Arvada, a city of more than 120,000 people, was at least the third high-profile shooting in Colorado during the past three months. The investigation into the incident is still ongoing, but Police Chief Link Strate said Tuesday that the officer, Gordon Beesley, “was targeted because he was wearing an Arvada police uniform and a badge.” He was a 19-year veteran of the department.

“Officer Beesley was ambushed by someone who expressed hatred of police officers,” Strate said at a news conference.

The shooting was “a deliberate act of violence,” Strate added, but officials “believe this is an isolated incident.” He identified the second victim as 40-year-old John Hurley and described him as a “good Samaritan” who intervened in the violence.

“He is a true hero who likely disrupted what could have been a larger loss of life,” Strate said.

Police announced on June 22 that a veteran police officer and a bystander were killed in a shooting in downtown Arvada, Colo. (AP/Denver7)

Police have released few additional details and did not name the suspect, who was also shot and killed. The Denver Post reported that the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office identified him as 59-year-old Ronald Troyke.

On Monday afternoon, police responded to reports of a “suspicious incident” near a library in Arvada’s Olde Town district. About 15 minutes later, emergency calls came in that shots had been fired and that an officer had been hit.

Three months earlier, 10 people, including a police officer, were killed at a grocery store in Boulder, about 20 miles away. In May, a gunman fatally shot six people and himself at a birthday party in a Colorado Springs mobile home.

This time, the shooting took place in a downtown district with shops, restaurants and other businesses, about 10 miles from the Denver city center.

“I unfortunately have had several conversations with Sam Weaver, the mayor of Boulder, because of the connection between our two cities on their recent tragedy,” Arvada Mayor Marc Williams told local outlet Denver 7 in a Tuesday morning interview. “He certainly reached right out to me.”

Williams added: “We’ll learn from others as to some things we ought to do, some things we maybe shouldn’t do.”

The man accused of killing 10 people in a Boulder grocery store in March attended Arvada West High School.

Laura C. Wilson, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia, said that years ago she might have thought about each mass shooting or shooting in a public place as having unique characteristics that affect survivors. But she now considers the trauma of multiple events.

“When we start to see a lot of these events happening in a small community or within the country, we start to have these compounding impacts,” she said. “People now have more evidence that the world is unpredictable, more evidence that regardless of what I do I can’t keep myself safe.”

But Wilson stressed that the effects of trauma are unique to every individual, every survivor.

Officials announced the city hall and municipal court would be closed Tuesday to ensure resources would be “available to assist our Police Department and other public safety partners in responding to the event.”

Williams called it “just the beginning of the healing process.”

On Monday evening, residents in the community lined the streets for a procession meant to honor the fallen officer. Footage from local news outlets showed a hearse driving down city streets, escorted by numerous law enforcement cars and motorcycles. Outside the Arvada police department, a police vehicle was covered with cards, balloons, flags and flowers to honor Beesley.

It’s the third line-of-duty death in the police department’s history, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page. It is the department’s first fatality by gunfire of a police officer, according to the mayor.

“We are closely monitoring the troubling situation in Arvada,” Gov. Jared Polis (D) said in a Monday statement. “My thoughts are with the family and friends of the officer who was tragically killed in the line of duty while swiftly and bravely responding to protect civilians in the area.”

The mayor said the downtown district was once a “sleepy part of town” with “not a lot of vibrancy. We would joke that we would roll up the sidewalks at 5 o’clock.”

But in recent years, it has transformed. In the past year, “it just took even more hold,” he told local outlet 9 News.

During the pandemic, the city closed the streets to vehicle traffic to help local businesses, allowing more space for patio seating and sidewalk sales.

“We will rebound. I have no doubt of that whatsoever,” Williams said. “We’re resilient in Arvada. … This is horrible, but we got through a pandemic, and we will get through this as well.”

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