Bill Troyanos was working his normal shift at the Army Navy Surplus Store in Olde Town Arvada on Monday when he heard a pop. Then another. And another.
He moved to the door, peered outside, and saw a gunman across the town plaza.
Then a customer, a 40-year-old man Troyanos had never met, put his hand on his hip, drew a pistol and quickly rushed toward the plaza.
Standing in the doorway, Troyanos, a former chef, watched as the stranger, identified by police later as John Hurley, used a brick wall on the corner of the Arvada library as cover.
“When the gunman came back toward the plaza, that’s when Hurley opened fire on him,” Troyanos told The Denver Post on Wednesday. “I did see him shoot the gunman.”
With people in the store yelling for him to lock the door and take cover, Hurley moved away from the horrific scene, never seeing how the man now being cast as a hero took his fatal blow.
“I would like to know how Hurley got shot,” Troyanos said, adding that he later saw Hurley being carried away on a stretcher.
With police mostly mum two days after the shooting in broad daylight that left three people dead — Hurley, a veteran police officer and the gunman — Troyanos’ account is the first to shed light on how a man shopping for outdoor gear might have saved innocent lives.
“I want to make sure that man’s family knows how heroic he was,” Troyanos said.
During a news conference Tuesday afternoon, authorities said Arvada police Officer Gordon Beesly “was ambushed by a person who expressed hatred of police officers” but gave few details about how Monday’s events transpired.
“While we yet don’t have all the facts, I can tell you that Gordon was targeted because he was wearing an Arvada police uniform and a badge,” Arvada police Chief Link Strate said.
Police have not confirmed who shot the alleged gunman, identified Tuesday as Ronald Troyke, 59, of Arvada, or how Hurley died. Authorities also did not say whether Hurley was armed or shot the gunman, only calling him a “true hero.” In the hours after the shooting, police had referred to Hurley as a “Samaritan.”
“He came into the Olde Town area in the middle of a shooting and prevented any further injury,” Detective David Snelling said during Tuesday’s news conference.
Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader on Tuesday did confirm that the county’s Critical Incident Response Team is conducting a separate investigation into Monday’s events. Those probes are mandated by law if an officer fired their weapon and injured or killed someone, though some agencies have initiated investigations even if an officer did not hit their target and nobody was injured.
Arvada police have not disclosed whether any officers fired their weapons.
First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King will then make a recommendation on whether an officer acted in an appropriate manner when firing their weapon.
Arvada police could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday morning.
What struck Troyanos was how decisively Hurley acted in the face of an armed man in the middle of a public square.
“It was definitely a selfless act,” he said.
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