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This story was last updated at 10:09 p.m. on Monday, March 22. Our original story continues below.
A man is in police custody after a shooting attack that left at least 10 people dead, including a Boulder police officer, at a King Soopers grocery store.
The shooting began at about 2:30 p.m. on Monday afternoon. Just over four hours later, police announced that the threat was over, though it is unclear when the violence ended.
“There is no ongoing public threat,” Boulder Police Commander Kerry Yamaguchi said at a 7 p.m. press conference. “We do have a person of interest in custody. That person was injured during the incident and is being treated for the injuries.”
Later, police confirmed that Officer Eric Talley, 51, was fatally shot at the store. He was the first to respond to the shooting, Chief Maris Herold said.
“Police officers’ actions fell nothing short of being heroic,” Herold said, growing emotional as she described the attack. Talley was a 10-year veteran of the department.
Herold promised that police would “work around the clock,” but the investigation would take at least five days to complete.
The terrifying act drew a massive police response to south Boulder, including a heavy presence at a second scene in a residential neighborhood, which was later determined to be unrelated to the King Soopers attack.
“This is a tragedy and a nightmare for Boulder County,” said District Attorney Michael Dougherty. “And in response, we have cooperation and assistance from local, state and federal authorities .… We’ll stand united in support of the victims and their families to ensure that justice is done.”
Kim Cordova, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, told CPR News that increased aggression in grocery stores during the pandemic, from panic shopping nearly a year ago to tension around mask mandates, had led to calls for in-store armed security.
"And then having to deal with this violence, you know, at their workplace, this is just going to add more trauma to these frontline workers," she said.
A livestream video that began early in the incident captured the apparent sound of gunshots near the store’s entrance. The video stream was captured by a self-described citizen journalist who said he was shopping at the time of the attack. Witnesses said the shooting began around 2:30 p.m., and one emergency call described a person with a rifle.
The livestream showed police arriving within minutes. Officers in regular uniforms appeared to enter the front door, with an armored response unit arriving soon after.
“Inside, inside — back of the store is where I last saw him,” a young man is heard shouting to officers in the video stream.
Ryan Borowski was shopping in the Boulder King Soopers when the shooting happened. At first he thought the gunfire was the sound of an employee who had dropped something, but he quickly realized what was happening.
He ran toward the back of the store with other customers and, with the help of employees, got to safety through the loading dock.
"Everybody kind of had like a hand on another person, you know,” Borowski said. “Somebody had their hand on my back, I had my hand on someone else's back and we just kept moving."
He said he doesn’t normally shop at that King Soopers location — he was just stopping by to grab some snacks and give his wife some space as she recovers from COVID-19.
Over the next two-plus hours, dozens of police officers, many armed with long guns and wearing body armor, assembled at the scene. People in the strip mall’s other businesses sheltered as best they could.
“We’re locked down in the back. Literally, we’re in the back, in our sinks, staying away from the windows and doors,” said David Schafer, an employee of the nearby Snarf’s Sandwiches, around 3:15 p.m. Earlier, he had seen people running from the back of the grocery store. Carol Mazza, owner of Boulder Packaging Center, said she heard gunshots in the distance.
“And we all just locked the door, turned off the lights and got in the back room,” she said.
Police brought armored vehicles to the scene, joined by numerous ambulances and a fire department truck, which a squad of armored officers used to reach the top of the building.
A drone flew over the scene, and police at times massed in large groups near an entrance to the store. Police brought people out of the store in waves — customers and staff, their arms wrapped around each other. A couple kissed in a moment of relief near a line of yellow crime-scene tape. But it remained unclear for hours whether the store had been cleared.
Just after 4 p.m., police used a loudspeaker to demand that someone in a car in the parking lot of the King Soopers exit their vehicle. The YouTube livestream showed police striking a vehicle with an armored vehicle as the loudspeaker announcement was made.
Police said at 4:18 p.m. that it was “still a very active scene” and urged people nearby to “stay inside for now.”
Jordan Crumby, an employee of Auspicious INK Tattoo, said that she had seen people running through the parking lot.
“I was literally just getting a coffee in King Soopers minutes before it happened,” she said, adding that the window of another nearby business was shot out. A large front window of King Soopers also appeared to have been broken in the attack.
Governor Jared Polis said in a tweet around 5:20 p.m. that the situation was still “active.”
“My heart is breaking as we watch this unspeakable event unfold in our Boulder community,” Polis said. “We are making every public safety resource available to assist the Boulder County Sheriff's Department as they work to secure the store.”
As the scene at the shopping center eventually appeared to calm, police shifted their attention to a residential neighborhood for unknown reasons, where police scanner traffic said they had made contact with another individual who was not complying with orders to come outside.
Video from the scene in the central Boulder neighborhood showed people gathering on the street after police reportedly told them to leave their homes. Armored police were gathering in the neighborhood by 5:30 p.m., with yellow caution tape stretched across an intersection.
The police department urged other people in the area to shelter in place while they responded to a report of an “armed, dangerous individual.”
Police surrounded a building in the neighborhood and appeared to be talking with someone in an apartment. Around 6:15 p.m., officers appeared to leave the neighborhood without incident and without taking anyone into custody. Police lifted the shelter notice around 6:40 p.m.
“That was unrelated, we believe, to (the grocery store) incident,” Yamaguchi said.
President Joe Biden “has been briefed about the shooting in Colorado and he will be kept up to date by his team as there are additional developments,” according to press secretary Jen Psaki.
The father of Officer Eric Talley told 9News that his son had seven children, the oldest 20.
"Didn't surprise me he was the first one there," Homer Talley told the station.
The last time Talley's work made the news was in 2013, when he rescued a family of ducks from a drainage ditch.
The death toll is astounding for the city of Boulder, exceeding the total number of murders in the city for the previous nine years combined. The city has averaged just more than one murder per year for the last decade.
Late Monday night, Polis sent out another statement. Mourning Talley and the other victims who've not yet been publicly identified, he wrote that the Boulder community was still waiting to learn if friends or family were among those killed.
"This year we have all been surrounded by loss of life, illness and isolation, and the deep grief that has accompanied the loss of life as we knew it. As spring sprung this weekend, and vaccines continue to get into arms, lightness creeped back in only for the darkness to descend on us again today. Today we saw the face of evil. I am grieving with my community and all Coloradans."
Alison Borden, Andrew Villegas, Alex Scoville, Ben Markus, Francie Swidler, Joe Wertz, Dan Boyce, Dave Burdick and Chuck Murphy contributed to this story.
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