A Colorado police officer who mistakenly shot and killed a man moments after the good Samaritan had bravely gunned down a cop killer will not face any criminal charges in the tragic case.
Officer Kraig Brownlow avoided prosecution for killing John Hurley on June 21 after a thorough investigation, Jefferson County District Attorney Alexis King said Monday.
Hurley, 40, was shopping in a store in suburban Arvada, when Ronald Troyke, 59, – dressed all in black and carrying and AR-style rifle – shot and killed police officer Gordon Beesley.
Hurley rushed out of the store to grab his gun and killed Troyke. He then picked up the killer’s military rifle as Brownlow arrived on the scene and mistook him for an active shooter.
‘The officer here had objectively reasonable grounds to believe, and did believe, he and other people were in imminent danger of being killed that day,’ said King at a news conference.
‘The officer saw a mass shooter, heard many rounds of gunfire in broad daylight in the heart of Olde Town Arvada. … Thus, the decision to shoot John Hurley was legally justified despite his heroic actions that day.’
John Hurley, 40, was shot dead by Kraig Brownlow after the cop mistook him for a gunman who had just killed a fellow officer
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The AR-15 rifle used by cop killer Ronald Troyke lays on the ground. Hurley picked up the weapon after killing Troyke
‘The officer here had objectively reasonable grounds to believe, and did believe, he and other people were in imminent danger of being killed that day,’ said Jefferson County District Attorney Alexis King (second from left) in a news conference on Monday
Brownlow has been on paid administrative leave since the incident. It is unclear when or if he will be allowed to return.
‘Right now, we don’t know,’ David Snelling, spokesman with the Arvada Police Department, told the Gazette. ‘That’s up to him.’
A four-page screed written by Troyke and found at his home after the mass murder attempt stated that his intention was to ‘kill as many Arvada officers as [he] possibly [could].’
Hurley’s tragic death lead to an investigation by outside agencies, which then handed the evidence over to the District Attorney’s office. More than 3,200 photos and 1,180 documents were reviewed, King said, to determine that Brownlow should not face charges.
Brownlow was finishing lunch with two other officers at a police outpost near Olde Town when they heard a series of gunshots. They looked out window saw the black-clad Troyke.
Only three minutes elapsed between the moment the three officers saw Troyke through the window and the moment that Hurley was mistakenly shot dead.
Gunman Ronald Troyke on CCTV moments after he had ambushed and killed Officer Beesley
Pictured is a police rendering of Officer Kraig Brownlow’s vantage point from the door where he took aim at John Hurley
Brownlow, who was identified in the DA’s decision letter, was finishing lunch with two other officers at a police outpost near Olde Town when they heard a series of gunshots. Through a window on a door of the building, the officers saw Troyke, dressed in head-to-toe black and wielding the AR-style rifle
Officer Gordon Beesley, 51 was killed by Ronald Troyke in Arvada, Colorado, on June 21
They watched the man turn toward the Olde Town Square, lined with restaurants and shops, but couldn’t get a clear shot at the man. One officer, the District Attorney wrote in her decision letter, was wearing soft body armor that he determined wouldn’t stop a round from the man’s gun.
Brownlow ran to another door in the building to follow the gunman from inside, telling a female office worker to hide. From the vantage point of another door, he saw Troyke walking with the rifle before vanishing behind a set of trees before another round of shots could be heard.
Then, the officer spotted a man in a red shirt, later identified as Hurley, carrying Troyke’s AR-15 and his own handgun, which he had used to stop the shooter in his tracks.
Hurley was fiddling with the rifle, and Brownlow thought he was reloading or fixing it while holstering his pistol, the decision letter said. The officer could see shattered glass from patrol cars in the parking lot, and saw the man in the red shirt walking toward businesses and shops.
He stuck his foot in the door to hold it open and took his shot.
‘At that moment, from the information available to Officer Brownlow, John Hurley was armed with a powerful rifle and handgun in a populated area amidst an active shooting,’ read King’s letter.
‘John Hurley was still, highly visible, with a wall of bricks behind him. If Officer Brownlow engaged before John Hurley had a chance to fix or reload his rifle or turn his attention on the lesser-armed Brownlow, Brownlow would fire towards a safe backdrop that would not jeopardize others.’
Police officers investigate the scene the shooting in Arvada on Monday, which left Beesley, Hurley and the gunman dead
At the Monday press conference, Kind hailed Hurley as a hero: ‘had he survived, we would have praised his bravery in engaging a mass shooter before anyone else was killed,’ she said.
‘He acted to defend others and we will remember him for his selflessness.’
In a statement, Hurley’s mother said she imagined many people would be angry about the decision. Instead of acting on their anger she encouraged them to ‘use that energy to be the change you wish to see in the world.’
‘I pray none of us will have to face a situation such as Johnny did, but as we pull ourselves together to move forward in life, consider using Johnny’s commitment to doing the right thing even at the greatest cost to inspire your own actions,’ she wrote.
Surveillance footage from the incident shows Troyke parking his dark-colored pick-up truck in Arvada on the day of the incident, just minutes before he shot and killed Officer Beesley.
The video clearly shows Troyke exit the vehicle at 1.35 pm dressed in a black shirt and shorts, openly brandishing his AR-15.
He then runs towards an unsuspecting Officer Beesley before shooting him dead. Shortly afterward, he was shot dead by Hurley, who removed the AR-15 from his body.
Eyewitness Bill Troyanos told The Denver Channel he was working in a nearby store at the time, and Hurley was inside the premises doing some shopping.
The pair heard he gunfire, before Hurley – who was armed with his own concealed carry – ran out of the shop towards the scene.
‘He did not hesitate; he didn’t stand there and think about it,’ Troyanos told the station. ‘I just want to make sure his family knows how heroic he was.’
According to Troyanos, Hurley confronted Troyke and fired five or six shots at him, causing the gunman to collapse against a parked car.
A manager at another nearby business told the station that prior to the shooting, he heard Hurley urging bystanders to seek shelter.
‘He turned back and looked towards everybody at the restaurant and told us that he [the gunman] is coming, that he is coming back and that we should get inside,’ the manager said.
Hurley, described as ‘humble,’ ‘hardworking’ and ‘super respectful’ by his coworkers, was a Golden resident who worked as a chef at the Rocky Mountain Commissary kitchen facility for several years before its closed in 2020, The Gazette reported.
According to his Facebook page, he was a classically trained cook. After the Commissary declared bankruptcy, Hurley took on jobs at a piano-moving company and an arcade, reported Fox 31.
Hurley was shot dead after picking up rifle used by cop killer
Long-time friend Cody Soules described him in a statement as ‘an outspoken activist’ who wanted to help people in his community.
Hurley’s former co-worker Cole Crocker told Fox 31 that he was dedicated, passionate and caring.
‘Johnny was the kind of guy that would think of everyone but himself first, always,’ he said.
Officer Beesley was a school resource officer with a reputation for taking a compassionate approach with students.
Police in Arvada, Colorado, were called to reports of gunfire at around 1:30pm on June 21
Beesley was a 19-year veteran of the Arvada Police Department, working as a patrol officer and as a motorcycle traffic officer before working as a school resource officer. He is survived by wife Karen and their two children.
In the four-page letter written by Troyke before the shooting, the gunman set out on June 21 with the intention to kill police officers.
‘My goal today is to kill Arvada PD officers,’ reads the letter uncovered in Troyke’s home .
‘Hundreds of you pigs should be killed daily,’ he added. ‘I just hope I don’t die without killing any of you pigs.’
The letter continues: ‘Today I will kill as many Arvada officers as I possibly can’.
It also featured the sentence: ‘This is what you get, you are the people who are expendable’.
It’s unclear what sparked Troyke’s hatred of local law enforcement.
According to court records cited by The Denver Post, Troyke was convicted of third-degree assault in 1992 and DWI in 1994.
There is no indication that Troyke had had any major run-ins with the law over the past 17 years.