Arvada, CO — On Monday, a deranged gunman, 59-year-old Ronald Troyke, began what was about to be a deadly mass shooting. His first victim would be Arvada Police Officer Gordon Beesley, and, according to the reports that evening, his next victim would be liberty activist and friend to many members of the Free Thought Project, including this author, Johnny Hurley. But it didn't quite unfold like the original reports claimed. Hurley was actually the hero who stopped the gunman and when other officers arrived on scene, one of them killed the hero.
Johnny Hurley was an outspoken activist for freedom and peace and he spent the last decade or more of his life seeking those goals for the world. His dedication to the preservation of life was so strong that it actually cost him his own life.
According to multiple witnesses, when the gunman, Troyke, began shooting, Hurley did not hesitate and ran straight into danger, eliminating the threat and saving countless lives.
“He did not hesitate; he didn’t stand there and think about it. He totally heard the gunfire, went to the door, saw the shooter and immediately ran in that direction,” witness Bill Troyanos said. “I just want to make sure his family knows how heroic he was.”
“He turned back and looked towards everybody at the restaurant and told us that he (Troyke) is coming, that he is coming back and that we should get inside,” another witness who asked not to be identified said. “I ran to the back of the store, closer to the alley, kind of 'nooked' myself in a corner just to feel safe.”
“Mr. Hurley shot him. I think I heard 6 shots from his gun, maybe 5,” Troyanos said.
To those who witnessed the shooting, Hurley was hailed as a hero. He had stopped the deadly threat and saved many lives in the process. But his time as a living hero was only brief. Moments after saving countless lives, Hurley would be killed by police who likely mistook him for the shooter.
Arvada Police Chief Link Strate said in a news conference Tuesday that Hurley was “a true hero who likely disrupted what could have been a larger loss of life,” but would not say it was police who shot him.
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Though police refused to confirm it was them who shot Hurley, Denver7 Chief Investigator Tony Kovaleski reported that they confirmed through three informed, ranking sources — including two law enforcement sources — that it was indeed a cop who ended this hero's life.
Hurley's Facebook profile is filled with statements from friends showing just how big of a light he shined in this world. His death is a true tragedy and will leave a void in the activism community.
"Johnny was a man of immense integrity and conviction, but he was also so darn charming. While we often disagreed, I never once doubted his compassion, empathy, or heart. You do indeed shine light in dark places, my dear friend. Your legacy of love is real and cherished," wrote Shannon McNamara.
"He was everything you wanted in a good friend, and much more. He had a heart of gold. He was smart, open minded, out spoken, resourceful, funny, and very caring. He was a musician, a creator, a speaker of truth, a great chef, and just an all around great human being," Zack Kopp wrote.
"Had this been anyone else, I wouldn’t believe it. Of course you’d be the one that wouldn’t hesitate to act so quickly and selflessly and in doing so, you protected the lives of so many people. You’re a god damn hero and I wish you were still here to witness the impact you’ve made Johnny Hurley," said Lauren Harris.
There has been a GoFundMe set up in his name to help pay for expenses. You can donate to it here.
Rest in Peace, Johnny Hurley.