The shooting at a Boulder King Soopers March 22, 2021 was an event not soon forgotten. And it has had a powerful effect on the Boulder community in particular, with all the victims having lived in or near Boulder County.
The memorial outside of the King Soopers is lined with bouquets and a sign saying "Boulder, We Love You" in support of the Boulder community. (Photo credit: Simone Beauchamp)
“We have received such an outpouring of sorrow and grief, and it’s just been extremely heartening for me to see how the community supports this police department and the victims involved in this unbelievable incident,” said Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold in a March 26 briefing.
The support is evident in the memorials, as well as the vigil held across the state of Colorado on Saturday, March 27 at 8 pm, in which participants took 10 slow breaths and observed 10 minutes of silence in addition to lighting a candle in a front window in honor of the victims.
Many Coloradans lit candles in a front window in honor of the Boulder shooting victims on Saturday, March 27, 2021. (Photo credit: Simone Beauchamp)
Each of these 10 people was a light in their own communities. They had plans and hopes and dreams. They touched the lives of those around them, and the community --whether locally in Boulder, or even on a national scale-- feels their loss deeply.
Jody Waters (65) was a generous friend and loving mom and grandma. She owned multiple clothing stores for over two decades, treating many of her staff like family, according to a former sales associate. Waters was thoughtful and would engage in deep conversations with anyone, according to her family.
Lynn Murray (62) was a wife and mother of two. She was a photographer who became a photo editor for magazines like Vogue, Glamour, and Cosmopolitan, as well as a Lyft and Uber driver and an Instacart shopper. She was picking up an order at the time of the shooting.
Kevin Mahoney (61) was a father and soon-to-be-grandfather, picking up groceries only a few minutes from home. He worked in hospitality and hotel management, and according to his daughter, he was like a dad for her entire neighborhood in Boulder.
Suzanne Fountain (59) was not only a daughter and partner, but a true friend and a “salt-of-the-earth person”, according to a longtime friend. Fountain was an award-winning local theatre actress and avid gardener. Working for 15 years with the Boulder Community Hospital before becoming a Medicare agent, she was heavily involved in her community. Though a resident of Broomfield, Fountain was in Boulder on Monday for a hair salon appointment in the same shopping center as the King Soopers.
Teri Leiker (51) was a 31-year employee with King Soopers, described as a sweet woman with a willingness to help. Having lived most of her life in Boulder County, Leiker was a Longmont High School graduate who played basketball, softball, and ran track and field in the Special Olympics. She was a close follower of University of Colorado’s women’s hockey team, supporting their marching band as well.
Officer Eric Talley (51) was the first to respond to the scene, running into the situation with the hope of saving lives, knowing backup may be minutes behind him. An officer with the Boulder Police Department, Talley had considered becoming a drone operator for the force, in lieu of his childhood dream of becoming a pilot. He had a master’s degree in computer technology, but joined the police force at 40 in service of his community. Called a man of exceptional character by those who knew him, President Biden commended Talley for his bravery, saying in a briefing on March 23, “When the moment to act came, Officer Talley did not hesitate in his duty, making the ultimate sacrifice in his effort to save lives. That’s a definition of an American hero.” Talley leaves behind a wife and 7 children.
Tralona “Lonna” Bartkowiak (49) was recently engaged on Christmas Day 2020. She owned a Pearl Street Mall shop with her sister called Umba Love, where a makeshift memorial soon enshrouded the front doorway. Described as compassionate, bright, warm, and creative, she was a fixture of the community, picking up a prescription at King Soopers to start her week.
Rikki Olds (25) was, by all accounts, a vibrant woman who could always make people smile. A graduate of Centaurus High School in 2013, Olds had planned to pursue a career in nursing, but her plans changed and she worked her way up to store manager of King Soopers. According to her uncle, Olds lived life on her own terms, noting that there’s a hole in their family that can’t be filled.
Neven Stanisic (23) was the son of Serbian refugees, described as hard-working and honest. He had just repaired a coffee machine in the Starbucks inside the store --a job which had been postponed twice-- and was getting ready to leave when he became the first victim. Stanisic was a recent graduate of Alameda International Junior/Senior High School in Lakewood and enjoyed snowboarding and visiting family.
Denny Stong (20) was the youngest victim, and had worked at King Soopers for 2 years. Stong, a Civil War buff, was going to participate in a Civil War reenactment the following Sunday. He was described as a fearless person, with goals he didn’t have a chance to reach and had plans to become a pilot.
Outside King Soopers, signs of support, regret, and well wishes are everywhere; the victims names written in a heart amid the many bouquets. (Photo credit: Simone Beauchamp)
“Less than a week after the horrific murders of eight people and the assault on the AAPI community in Georgia, while the flag was still flying half-staff for the tragedy, another American city has been scarred by gun violence and the resulting trauma,” said President Biden in his March 23 remarks on the Boulder shooting.
Week after week, shootings like this one occur, and week after week, more lives are snuffed out, more communities shattered. One thing is sure: the loss of these 10 lives cannot be forgotten.