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Fallen Arvada police officer Gordon Beesley remembered for sense of humor, commitment to community

A procession and funeral in honor of Officer Gordon Beelsey was held on Tuesday morning.

LAFAYETTE, Colo. — Gordon Beesley was more than a police officer. He was a father, husband and brother — and also a musician, world traveler, cyclist, Harley rider and former “huge hippie” who would sing an Elvis-style version of “Blue Christmas” while playing guitar.  

“At an annual conference for SROs [school resource officers], he had everyone singing ‘Margaritaville’ … at a conference for SROs,” Arvada Police Chief Link Strate said during a memorial service for Beesley on Tuesday morning.

Beesley, 51, was killed in the line of duty on June 21 after he was shot by a gunman in Olde Town Arvada. Investigators said that man had been targeting police officers. 

Beesley was a 19-year veteran of the department who is remembered for working as an SRO at Oberon Middle School and who had been spending his summer working patrols. 

Six years ago, he was profiled by 9NEWS for riding his bike to school with a student who couldn’t do it on his own. During the memorial service, friends, family and coworkers emphasized that this was just the kind of guy Beesley was.

“It’s impossible to separate Gordon the police officer from Gordon the person, and that’s because his character and personality shone through in everything he did,” Strate said. “He was full of kindness and joy, he was willing to listen and serve in every capacity.”

Beesley was born in Connecticut, and was a drummer for a punk rock band in high school. He majored in English at the University of Colorado Boulder, and was nicknamed “Thor” in college because of his long, red beard.

He started playing the drums when he was eight years old, and was part of the Arvada Police Department’s drum and bugle corp. Strate said he looked “remarkably good in a kilt.”

Arvada Police Sgt. Brian Thome said Beesley figured out how to hook his music up to his work walkie talkie so he could jam to music without missing a call. When they first met, he said he noticed that the vegetarian musician who was wearing Chuck Taylor’s in the police locker room had a tattoo of his dog on his arm.

“Any man that has such absolute commitment to his dog to have his picture tattooed on his shoulder is going to be a friend of mine,” Thome said.

Beesley leaves behind a wife and two teenage sons. His memorial included speakers from law enforcement as well as friends, family and members of the Oberon Middle School community.

While the community wasn’t allowed to attend this service, they nevertheless showed their support by gathering along the procession route to honor an officer who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Beesley is the second Colorado police officer to die in the line of duty this year.

“He was kind, he was caring, he was humble,” Strate said. “He had a fundamental goodness to him that was all too rare.

“You would stop and ask ‘why aren’t more people like Gordon?’”

Thome and other friends of Beesley who spoke at his memorial remembered him for his upbeat attitude and sense of humor. He was the kind of guy who would do the dishes at every party he attended and who was a fan of a Led Zeppelin cover band with an Elvis lead singer who sang in a reggae style.

“I don’t want to dwell on the tragic and painful,” Thome said. “That would be a disservice to Gordon’s memory.”

Arvada Police said the only official donation site in Beesley's honor is the Colorado Fallen Heroes Foundation. The foundation said all donations received in the next month will be given to his family.

Johnny Hurley, a good Samarian who sprang into action after Beesley was killed, also died in the shooting. Investigators believe he was killed by Arvada Police. The following GoFundMe site is authorized by his family for donations. Strate had said Hurley's actions likely prevented other people from losing their lives and that both he and Beesley were heroes. 

RELATED: What we know about the deadly shooting in Olde Town Arvada

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