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It's been 38 years since the first Aurora officer died in the line of duty

Officer Debra Sue Corr was shot after she pulled over a motorist and attempted to arrest him.
Credit: Courtesy Aurora Police Department

AURORA, Colo. — Officer Debra Sue Corr was patrolling alone when she pulled a man over near East Colfax Avenue and Moline Street in Aurora.

When she tried to arrest him, he broke free, grabbed Corr's weapon and shot her.

That was on June 27, 1981 — exactly 38 years ago today.

Corr, who was 26 at the time, became the first Aurora police officer to die in the line of duty that day. Five total officers have died in the line of duty, the most recent in 2007. Corr was the only woman. 

Credit: Courtesy Aurora Police Department

Corr was one of few females on the police force at that time. The Aurora Police Department (APD) estimates there were fewer than 10 female officers in 1981.

After Corr was shot, a passerby — Aurora Explorer Scout Glen Spies — tried to help. Spies, too, was shot. He suffered a wound to the back, but survived his injuries. 

APD later awarded Spies with the Aurora Police Medal of Valor, as well at $10,000 to continue his education.

The suspect was later identified as Joseph M. Ervin. He was arrested in his home as he tried to saw the handcuffs off, according to APD.

Ervin later ended his own life while in jail, APD said.

Corr was survived by her husband, Denver police officer Peter Corr, as well as her mother Peggy Moritz, father Jack Herpel and brother Donald Herpel.

Corr and the other Aurora officers who died were honored in 2017 with a memorial. Memorial Courtyard is located at the Aurora Municipal Center at 14999 E. Alameda Pkwy.  

Credit: Courtesy Aurora Police Department

Corr's name is also inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C. 

RELATED: Fallen officers honored with Aurora memorial

The other four Aurora officers who have died in the line of duty are: 

  • Thomas Dietzman Jr., who was accidentally shot and killed in 1985 while qualifying for the department’s SWAT team. He was noted to be a devoted family man and police officer.
  • Edward Hockom, who was shot and killed in 1987 after stopping a vehicle suspected to be the one that had left the scene of an armed robbery.
  • Michael Del Thomas, who was shot and killed in 2006 by a suspect while he sat at a traffic light.
  • Doug Byrne, who was killed in 2007 in a vehicle accident while responding to a medical emergency.

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