Updated 7:48 p.m.
Standing on the front steps of the Boulder Police Department on Tuesday, all Clint Tyson could think was, “Why Teri?”
Tyson was one of about 200 people who gathered at the department for a ceremony honoring Officer Eric Talley and the 9 other people shot and killed when a gunman entered the Table Mesa King Soopers on March 22, 2021.
Tyson, an employee, was working at the store that day and escaped safely. But he lost his co-worker and girlfriend Teri Leiker, a veteran checkout clerk.
“We were planning on getting married this year on Valentine’s Day,” Tyson said. “She was a good friend and girlfriend and this had to happen. I’m still healing.”
The city quietly marked one year since the shooting with a series of somber remembrances and commemoration events at the police department and a downtown park. Community members said it was important for them to focus on the victims as the one-year mark arrived.
Before the ceremony at the police department, resident Kim Price placed a bouquet of white roses on a patrol car parked outside the building’s front doors serving as a memorial to Talley. Price said her son was working at the Table Mesa store the day of the shooting and escaped safely after law enforcement responded.
Her son declined to attend the ceremony, and she planned to meet up with him at a gathering of King Soopers employees later in the evening.
“It's just a debt I could never repay and it means a lot to be here,” Price said. “It's a good day too, because we're all getting together as a family and just being together today.”
Local elected officials and Boulder’s Chief of Police Maris Herold spoke at the ceremony, highlighting Talley’s response to the store, which Herold said likely stopped the gunman from killing even more people.
Talley was among the first group of officers who arrived at the scene of the shooting, according to police. At Talley’s memorial service last year, officers said no civilian was injured or died after Talley arrived at the grocery store.
“There is no doubt that Eric’s selfless bravery saved dozens of lives,” Herold said. “Now more than ever, policing needs people like Eric. He was a true ambassador for the city of Boulder.”
Herold announced a new award the department created in Talley’s honor, which she plans to give to an officer each year that demonstrates a “commitment to protecting the most vulnerable in our community.” The department also passed out commemorative pins with Talley’s badge number, 295, and 9 silver lines honoring the other victims.
“We will always remember March 22,” Herold said. “But the events of that day will not define us.”
The Table Mesa store reopened to the public last month, but it closed on Tuesday to honor the victims as remembrance events take place across the city.
The store’s parking lot was mostly empty and blocked off to the public. Victims’ family members were allowed to place flowers and signs in front of the store’s entryway.
Other events included a community gathering downtown at the Glen Huntington Bandshell.
Speakers included Boulder’s mayor, city council members, faith leaders and Gov. Jared Polis, who urged the community to remember the victims. All 10 names were displayed on a billboard on the bandshell stage as leaders took to the podium.
Polis acknowledged the cold and snowy weather as attendees filled about half of the amphitheater’s wooden benches. Many held electronic candles and white roses.
“It hits home that it’s a cold spring day,” Polis said. “For all of us, there’s loss in our heart.”
Polis remembered the makeshift memorial of flowers and signs along the fencing that popped up in the days following the shooting last year. The memorial has since been taken down and preserved.
“It was such a powerful moment,” Polis said. “It’s really just who we are.”
Mayor Aaron Brockett, speaking to the crowd, said the Boulder city council would officially declare March 22 a designated day of remembrance.
“Every year our community will pause and celebrate their lives,” Brockett said. “We will say their names out loud so in our hearts, they will live on.”
After the speeches, Hannah George, a longtime Boulder resident sat quietly as the rest of the audience dispersed. She said she was surprised at the small size of the crowd.
“I know it’s cold and people process grief differently, but I’m disappointed there aren’t more people here,” George said. “This isn’t something you just move on from. We need to acknowledge this together.”
She grew emotional as she described her thoughts about the one-year mark.
“I hope people don’t shy away from their grief,” she said. “It can feel colossal, but it also brings us together.”
At the other end of the park, Sylvia Hermanson picked up a brochure from a table set up by Boulder Strong, a community resource center launched in the wake of the shooting to help residents cope with stress and trauma.
Boulder Shooting Portraits: A survivor, a victim advocate and others reflect on the last year
She said she wanted to try out some of the events at the center. She had almost forgotten that it had been a year since the shooting, she said, but was glad to learn that the community was holding a remembrance event.
“I think the idea of responding with love (sticks with me),” Hermanson said. “My response is not anger. My response is there are problems in the world and they cannot be solved with violence against other people. That’s what I’m left with.”
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