Law enforcement officials said a suspect was in custody but offered scarce details about the killings, including information about a possible motive.
Boulder Police Commander Kerry Yamaguchi said in a brief news conference that the suspect was being treated for an injury. Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty, a Democrat, said officials were still working to notify family members of the victims.
Dozens of emergency vehicles lined the streets around the store Monday afternoon during a massive response to what police said was a shooting at the store. Witnesses described a chaotic scene, with customers rushing to exits at the front and back of the supermarket after shots were fired from a rifle. One witness told local media that the shooter did not say anything before opening fire.
Ryan Borowski, 37, had gone to King Soopers to grab a bag of chips and a soda. Borowski, who does not frequent the store, said he had thought about getting a pint of ice cream but changed his mind because the aisle was too far away and he wanted to leave quickly.
At about 2:30 p.m., just as Borowski was walking up to the checkout area, he heard a loud bang.
"My first hope was that it was an employee who dropped something," he said. Then came the second bang. "By the third bang I was running. It was bang, bang, bang, bang, bang! I was thinking around eight."
He added: "I saw a woman shorter than myself with a terrified look on her face running toward me, and at this point I turned, and people were saying things like: 'Run, run! Go, run!' Everybody was running, and everybody was scrambling."
Borowski and a group of customers and employees ran toward the back of the store in a line, placing their hands on top of one another's backs so they would not leave anyone behind, he said. "Don't stop! Keep going!" he recounted telling people.
The group exited through the loading dock in the back of the store, he said, then hid under a semi-truck for a moment before running up a hill to the parking lot of a nearby Whole Foods.
Video from a witness who was live-streaming on YouTube from the King Soopers parking lot showed at least two people injured and motionless on the ground outside and a third just inside the front doors.
"There are gunshots inside the store! People ran out of the back door! The active shooter is still in there!" the witness shouted.
The live video showed heavily armed officers surrounding the building - with its front windows broken - and police could be heard trying to communicate with the attacker through a bullhorn. Officers were lifted onto the roof in a cherry picker.
At about 3:30 p.m. local time, a man in handcuffs who was bleeding down his leg was guided away from the building by police. Officials did not confirm whether the bleeding man was the suspect.
As details of the attack emerged slowly Monday evening, government officials shared their sorrow and condolences.
"My heart is breaking as we watch this unspeakable event unfold in our Boulder community," Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, said in a written statement. "We are making every public safety resource available to assist the Boulder County Sheriff's Department as they work to secure the store."
Polis had said earlier that he was "closely watching unfolding events."
Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., sent his prayers to the Boulder community, first responders and law enforcement who responded to the "terrible incident," he wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, those who experienced and survived the attack offered details of the horrific scene. A witness who spoke to The Denver Post said the gunman did not say anything - "he just came in and started shooting."
Andy Arellano, 35, was working in the King Soopers meat department when he started to hear shots like "big hammers on a metal table," said the Boulder resident.
"At the first, it was just like boom boom boom - it was three. Then suddenly boom, boom, boom, boom, and that's when all the people started running."
Employees and customers ran out of the back of the store, Arellano said. He never saw the shooter.
"I could hear the shots getting closer and closer," he said. "The shots were so close that I started hearing that ringing bell with the gunshots."
While waiting outside the police barrier across the street from the crime scene, he tried to contact co-workers. "I'm trying to, like, call my friends to see if they're OK, and there's no word of them."
A man told 9 News that his grandchildren were in the store during the shooting. He said they hid in a closet as the incident unfolded and as police dropped into the store through the roof.
Daniel Douglas was in the store, picking up lunch and flowers for his girlfriend, when the gunshots began.
"Nobody knew what was going on, so we started screaming, 'Hit the ground,' " he told Fox 31 Denver.
The shooter, Douglas said, moved to the front of the store while Douglas and other customers rushed to the back of the building, where he said many others were hiding and trying to escape. A co-worker kicked the emergency-exit door open so people could get out, he said.
"A lot of people were petrified. A lot of people were crying," he said.
Another man, who said he was on his way to pick up coffee at the store, walked away from the incident unharmed. He told Fox 31 that he was "terrified" and "in shock" when he realized what has happening.
He said he called his mother to let her know that he was all right, then "it all kind of sunk in and I started panicking."
"The fact that it's happening all over America," he added, "seeing it on the news, like, something I've grown up with, like people my age and my generation - we're used to this, and its just never something that I think would happen in my town."
There have been as many as nine school shootings in the area since the Columbine massacre in 1999, which left 12 students and a teacher dead. Four other major shootings have occurred within 20 miles of the suburban Columbine High School, including a 2012 shooting at a movie theater in Aurora that left 12 dead.
Published : March 23, 2021
By : The Washington Post · Paulina Villegas, Andrea Salcedo, Amanda Miller