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Sam Brownlee, first Weld County deputy killed in line of duty since 1940: Tributes pour in

The last Weld County deputy to die while doing his job was Earl Bucher way back in 1940 -- until yesterday, that is. Deputy Sam Brownlee was allegedly slain by Reuben Reyes, twenty, following a chase that reached speeds topping 100 miles per hour. Afterward, Reyes himself was killed by officers.

Details, photos and info saluting Brownlee below.

According to the Greeley Tribune, Reyes stole the car of a woman he knew mid-morning yesterday in Morgan County. Officers from Morgan County and the community of Wiggins gave chase for more than an hour, with Weld County joining in when Reyes passed into that jurisdiction. So, too, did the Colorado State Patrol, and while its use of stop-sticks near Kersey didn't disable Reyes's vehicle right away, the car eventually lost a tire in Greeley.

Bystanders report that officers surrounded the car -- but then shots rang out, and Brownlee went down. At that point, the officers opened fire on Reyes, who reportedly went by the street names "Smiley" and "Demon." His rap sheet includes offenses for felony menacing and driving under the influence, as well as an assault beef that was subsequently dismissed.

Reyes had one child, while Brownlee left behind two children, two stepchildren and a wife who works for the Weld County District Attorney's Office. As noted by the Tribune, he was a training officer, charged with helping his peers survive dangerous situations.

Brownlee's Facebook page is private, but it's said to be filling up with tributes from friends and family. So, too, is the comments section on the Tribune's main article, with one reader declaring, "The heart of my family goes out to the family of this most brave man. You are in our thoughts. Thank you to ALL law enforcement for keeping the life of my friends and family safe and putting your life on the line on a daily basis. ALL of your daily heroism does NOT go un-noticed!"

Below, see 9News' coverage about the incident and a larger photo of Brownlee:

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts