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Gordon Beesley was a 19-year veteran of the Arvada Police Department.

The Arvada police officer killed by a gunman Monday afternoon was a 19-year veteran who served as the school resource officer for Oberon Middle School and was Arvada’s  2014 Employee of the Year. 

Officer Gordon Beesley was responding to a man who was behaving suspiciously at the Arvada Army and Navy Surplus Shop at West 57th Avenue and Olde Wadsworth Boulevard on Monday afternoon. 

Arvada police say three people died in the incident: Beesley, a bystander described as  a “samaritan” and the shooting suspect. Witnesses who were shopping and eating lunch in the popular entertainment district said they heard what they thought were fireworks around 1:30 p.m. 

The Arvada shooting happened three months after a gunman opened fire in the Boulder King Soopers killing 10 people, including Boulder Police officer Eric Talley.

“Officer Beesley was a hugely, hugely respected officer,” Arvada Mayor Marc Williams told The Denver Gazette. “As a mayor you never want to have this kind of thing happen and it now has. These police officers are fellow humans who get up every morning to serve and protect us. And their families never know if they’re gonna come home, and this officer is not gonna come home.”

John McDonald, executive director of school safety for Jefferson County Schools, said Beesley was working on the patrol unit for the summer while school is out.  

“He was at Oberon for a long time, and this is going to hit the school hard,” McDonald said. “He saw the possibilities and brought it out in the kids. He made the students in that school feel safe. They knew they were in a good place.”

McDonald said the school district is planning to have counselors available for the staff and children. 

Williams said Beesley was a married father of two who played drums in a city band called Misfit Toyz. In 2014, he was recognized for helping a developmentally disabled student at Oberon Middle School who had been bullied by buying a bicycle for him. Beesley then rode with the boy to and from school so that he felt safe. 

According to the City of Arvada’s website, Beesley and his family tried to take advantage of all aspects of the outdoors in Colorado: hiking, biking, skiing and camping. 

Beesley had a motto, included in his bio on the city website: “Look for the good in every day.”