The day after a tragedy

Olde Town community grieves after shooting

Ryan Dunn
rdunn@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 6/30/21

An eerie quiet fills the air in Olde Town the morning after one of the most devastating incidents in Arvada’s memory; a shooting in Olde Town Square on June 21 that claimed the lives of Arvada …

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The day after a tragedy

Olde Town community grieves after shooting

Posted

An eerie quiet fills the air in Olde Town the morning after one of the most devastating incidents in Arvada’s memory; a shooting in Olde Town Square on June 21 that claimed the lives of Arvada Police Officer Gordon Beesley and Johnny Hurley, 40. Hurley has since been described by authorities as a `good Samaritan’ that intervened in the shooting.

On June 22, a handful of locals could be found sipping coffee outside La Dolce Vita or picking up pastries from Rheinlander Bakery - the stockroom of which housed panicked passerby’s fleeing gunfire a day prior - but the streets of Grandview Avenue and Olde Wadsworth were mostly empty.

Most businesses were closed, with just a select few opening their doors in the wake of the previous day’s events. Some experienced staffing issues as employees felt unsure about returning to work in such close proximity to the shooting.

“Half my staff called out,” said an employee at Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, which was open on June 22. “They don’t feel good about being here.”

Others, like Third Eye Gifts owner Sarbajit Basnet, who sought shelter in the back of his store during the shooting, felt compelled to return to their workplace despite witnessing the events of June 21 unfold firsthand.

“I feel so — I can’t explain how I feel,” said Basnet. “I have to come here. This is the only place I work. I have a newborn baby I have to take care of. I’ve got to be here. I had to pick my car up anyway. I don’t know how long I’ll stay (today).”

Better to have something to do

Steven Cohen owns Arvada Navy Surplus, located directly across from Olde Town Square. He said his staff locked the doors and huddled in the back of the shop with guests who were in the store. Nevertheless, he and his staff decided to open up shop the next day.

“(We opened today) just to be back and be back to normal as soon as possible,” said Cohen. “Sometimes you take time off and it’s better for the mind to have something to do. I think it’s healthy for everyone to be down here and not stuck at home. We all experienced it together, so I think it’s good for us to be together.

“It’s crazy for it to happen where you work,” Cohen continued. “We saw all the bodies and everything. I don’t think any of us slept really well.”

Debbie Hansen, the owner of La Dolce Vita, was not in the coffee shop at the time of the shooting but touched base with her staff who had been working at the time of the incident.

“(My staff) ushered people into the back over here,” said Hansen, pointing to a space behind the shop’s counter. “(They) had served some ladies who ran back in and said, `shots were fired, there’s gunshots.’ (Staff) called 911, they said `close your doors, lock your doors, turn off the lights.’ (Everyone) went in the back away from the windows and everything else.

“My staff was amazing,” Hansen continued. “They stayed calm. It was awesome; they did such a great job.”

Hansen did not schedule any of her staff who worked on June 21 to come in on the 22, instead of relying on help from other employees and family. Hansen said that she was unable to get ahold of her daughter, Tamara, age 11, at the time of the shooting, causing her further panic.

“Everyone’s a little shaken up,” said Hansen. “I wasn’t here, but my daughter (Tamara) had been at the shop. I couldn’t get ahold of her and I was on the phone with my employees saying, `Stay calm, stay calm,’ and I don’t know if I was saying it to my employees or to myself.”

Hansen later found out that Tamara was safe and had left the shop 15 minutes prior to the shooting with her cousin, who subsequently lost track of his cell phone.

‘Community needs police’

For her part, Tamara said she wants to be a police officer when she grows up, preferably on horseback.

“I figured that out when I was three,” said Tamara. “I wanted to be a mermaid/fairy/unicorn/police officer but then I realized `wait, you can’t be all of that and a police officer.’ So, I lowered it down to just a police officer.

“(Police officers) protect people, they save people’s lives and people bully me and I just want people not to,” Tamara continued. “And also, that the community needs police officers. Also, I want to protect the shop. If somebody overpours milk, they’re going to be in trouble.”

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