Who Were The Shooting Victims In Boulder? They Were Parents, Children, Friends — They Were All Of Us

Sarah Midkiff
·5 min read

On Monday, a shooter opened fire inside the King Soopers supermarket at around 2:30 p.m. A witness posted a live video from the scene shortly after the shooting began, saying that he heard about a dozen shots in total. Shoppers and employees hid or tried to escape as they waited for law enforcement to arrive on the scene. After a shootout inside the store, 21-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, who is the only current suspect, was taken into custody and charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder.

In the aftermath of the shooting, information has been scattered, and — perhaps naturally — much has been published about the suspected shooter, his motive, and the discourse around gun reform in America. And while these issues must be discussed, so often in massacres like these, the killer becomes the focus and the people who lost their lives risk being overshadowed, ultimately becoming just one name in a list, or one part of a number. But as details emerge about the victims of the shooting, we are reminded of all the information and personal details that get lost within a tragedy.

Now, loved ones are sharing those stories and memories, hoping to keep them alive.

Eric Talley, 51, the Boulder police officer who was first to arrive on the scene, was among those shot dead. “The world lost a great soul,” Officer Talley’s father, Homer Talley, told The New York Times. “He was a devoted father — seven kids. The youngest was seven and the oldest was 20, and his family was the joy of his life.” Talley, who was 51 when he died, had been on the Boulder police force for 11 years.

Nine others were also shot and killed, including customers, employees, parents, siblings, and spouses. Denny Strong was an employee at King Soopers. The 21-year-old Strong was, according to his friends, dreaming of becoming a pilot, taking extra shifts at the grocery store to save up for his pilot’s license.

Neven Stanisic, a repairman, was also among those who lost his life. Stanisic was the 23-year-old son of Serbian refugees who fled Bosnia during the 1990s. He was the hope “of a family who, like many refugees, had come with basically nothing but their lives, to start a new life here,” according to Rev. Radovan Petrovic, his family’s priest. “The biggest question for the family, besides all the sorrow they are enduring, is how this could have happened here.”

Petrovic’s sentiments were echoed by other loved ones of those killed during the shooting. Rikki Olds, 25, was a front-end manager at King Soopers. According to her uncle, she was energetic, happy-go-lucky, and “brought life to the family.” Tralona Bartkowiak, 49, the eldest of four close-knit siblings, managed a yoga and festival clothing store launched by her sister. “She was just great,” said her younger brother to the Times. “No, she is great. Still is.”

Teri Leiker, 51, had worked at King Soopers for about 30 years. A friend, Lexi Knutson, who first met Leiker through a program called Best Buddies, which connects University of Colorado Boulder students with members of the community with intellectual and developmental disabilities, said they would regularly attend university sporting events together. In an Instagram tribute, Knutson called Leiker “the most selfless, innocent, amazing person I have had the honor of meeting.”

As the news of the shooting became a reality on Monday afternoon, many relatives shared that their immediate family members lost their lives in social media posts. “I am heartbroken to announce that my Dad, my hero, Kevin Mahoney was killed in the King Soopers shooting,” his daughter Erika Mahoney said on Twitter. “My dad represents all things Love. I’m so thankful he could walk me down the aisle last summer.” According to his daughter, Mahoney, who was 61, was about to become a grandfather.

“She was an amazing woman, probably the kindest person I’ve ever known,” said Lynn Murray’s husband, John Mackenzie. Before retiring, Murray was a photo director in New York. She was at the grocery store filling an Instacart order — an activity she’s said to have enjoyed doing to help people since retiring. She was 62.

A prolific gardener, Suzanne Fountain, 59, reportedly always shared her vegetables with neighbors. “I loved her immediately,” Martha Harmon Pardee, a friend of Fountain, told CNN. “That’s just what happened when people met her. She was a bright light, a peace lover, a strong feminist.” Up until 2018, Fountain worked as a financial adviser before embarking on a new career and starting a business to help people apply for Medicare.

Jody Waters, 65, owned boutiques in downtown Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall and lived in the area for years. “It sounds like a cliche, but she would light up a room,” Jeff Shapiro, who owned a nearby store, told The Denver Post.

In this tragedy, these are the people we should remember; the people who should be at the forefront of every story. Yes, the shooting brings up a larger conversation that must be had about gun control, and yes, it’s important to understand with clarity the events that took place and everything that led up to them. But first and foremost, the shooting is about these 10 people, their friends, their family — their lives.

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