After a 19-year veteran police officer was shot and killed Monday in the Denver suburb of Arvada, Colorado, people across the community found ways to honor and say goodbye to Officer Gordon Beesley.
Beesley was well-known in Arvada for his attention to students as the resource officer at a local middle school. He was on patrol duty for the summer when he was killed responding to a call in a district known as Olde Town Arvada.
As word of Beesley’s death spread, members of the public gathered around the taped-off crime scene in the Olde Town Square, a popular shopping and gathering area in the middle of Arvada. Many carried American or “Thin Blue Line” flags as a procession carried the officer’s body away. As the sun set Monday evening, local officials switched the lighting on Arvada’s iconic 111-year-old water tower to blue flood lamps in tribute to Beesley, casting the whole structure in a blue hue.
The water tower was first built in 1910 and has become a symbol of the town’s recent urban renewal.
Beesley was shot responding to a 911 call. Soon after Beesley arrived in the Olde Town area and exited his car, an armed man shot him. A bystander who ran to Beesley’s aid was also killed by gunfire. The shooter was later shot and killed, though few details were available at the time of publication.
Arvada Deputy Police Chief Ed Brady said during a press conference on Monday that Beesley was the third officer to die in the line of duty in the department’s history but the first to die from gunfire. City offices were closed and government meetings canceled at the news of Beesley’s death.
Thank you for the outpouring of support to the family of Officer Beesley, the Arvada Police Department, Colorado, the rest of the City team and our amazing community. We share this difficult loss with you all. pic.twitter.com/o5JT73HfxH
— City of Arvada (@cityofarvada) June 22, 2021
Beesley was a school resource officer during the school year but was assigned to patrol duties during summer break.
CBS Denver reported Tuesday that, in 2014, Beesley had purchased a bike for a special needs student at Oberon Middle School. The student’s mother didn’t want him to ride his bike to school alone, so Beesley rode with the boy to school on his own patrol bike. After school was released for the day, he accompanied the student back home again.
A memorial service will be held for Beesley Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Peace Lutheran Church.