The tragic death of Arvada police officer Gordon Beesley at the hands of a hateful shooter shocked and saddened the people of Arvada, Colorado, as they lost an active and well-loved community member and serviceman.
To honor his legacy in the community, two girls went on a mission of love to help his family members through their great loss.
The fallen hero
Having served in the Arvada Police Department for 19 years, Gordon Beesley raised two sons with his wife, Karen. Friends and family remembered him for being a cheerful and respectful resource officer, who helped both students and teachers at Oberon Middle School.
“His happiest years began once he met Karen and with the arrival of his remarkable boys, he was the proudest father in the world.” said Mandy, Beesley’s sister.
Beesley loved music, especially drums, and would share this passion at school during the holidays. He would also ensure that the children arrived safely at school, should their parents or guardians not be around.
Suddenly, this well-loved officer’s life was cut short, when a lone gunman, identified as Ronald Troyke, ambushed and shot him multiple times.
“Officer Beesley was ambushed by a person who expressed hatred of police officers,” said Arvada Chief of Police Link Strate, as reported by CPR News.
Troyke himself was killed by a “good Samaritan” who was, in turn, shot by the police not long after.
The sudden and shocking death of Officer Beesley devastated the community of Arvada, plunging friends and family into a state of grief and sadness.
The following week, Colorado law enforcement and police vehicles formed a procession as they followed Beesley’s hearse to Foothills Community Church in Lafayette, where the lives he touched bid their final farewells.
“Twenty years ago, our friendship began,” said Arvada Police Sergeant Brian Thome. “Gordon came bebopping in the locker room wearing high-top Chuck Taylor’s, short shorts, tie-dye shirt and a little hop and a step a little bit different than everybody else.” as reported by CPR News.
Lemonade for Officer Beesley
With the loss of their heroic officer, a pair of best friends set out to turn their grief into a cause for hope and action.
To honour the memory of Gordon Beesley, Scarlett Reust and her best friend Addyson Elliot, nine and ten respectively, chose to set up a lemonade stand to help raise money for his family.
Scarlett and Addyson were among the many children haunted by the death of Officer Beesley and wanted to do something to brighten people up.
“They know police as their heroes and their protectors, and for one of them to pass like that is really just kind of confusing,” Scarlett’s mother, Ashley Conn, told The Epoch Times. Ashley had asked her, “What if that was my dad? He had kids… like, what if that was my dad?”
Selling fresh lemonade for 50 cents a glass, the pair made nearly $2,000 with their charitable act. While selling the drinks, they wore matching t-shirts that read, “Lemonade for Officer Beesley,” a simple yet heartwarming message to all who will remember the officer.
Scarlett and Addyson kept up the effort for three days. During this time, people moved by the charity the girls were running would share their wishes and memories of Officer Beesley with them, and many gave generously to the cause.
“People came and didn’t even want any lemonade, but just gave us money. It just grew and grew and grew.” Scarlett told KDVR.
The girls were then able to share their earnings of $1,800 to police chief Link Strate, further warming the hearts of grief-stricken police officers with their charity.
“For those two little girls to think of him and to work on that lemonade stand, and to give their proceeds to Officer Beesley’s family, [it] will make a statement to this department that I don’t believe I can express,” said Strate.
Colorado’s 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office also shared the story of the girls’ act through Facebook.
People like Scarlett and Addyson taking such a selfless initiative remind us that we can find hope in sadness, and that people of good character are valued and not forgotten, even when they are lost too soon. When our behavior and actions affect others in a positive way, it makes a lasting impression.