Police have not confirmed the number of fatalities, but a source with knowledge of the investigation told the Daily Camera newspaper that there are at least six people killed.
Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty said during an evening news conference that a suspect was taken into custody and is being treated for injuries.
Boulder police Cmdr. Kerry Yamaguchi said one of the people killed at the store was a police officer.
“There was loss of life,” Yamaguchi said. “We have multiple people who were killed in this incident.”
The only person who suffered a significant injury was the suspect, Yamaguchi said.
“This is a tragedy and nightmare for Boulder County,” Dougherty said at the news conference in the parking lot of the grocery store, now surrounded in crime scene tape.
When reporters pressed Yamaguchi for more details on the killing, Dougherty stepped in to emphasize that authorities will not rush the release of information, particularly when it comes to information about those killed in the shooting.
“A lot of things are being realized as the crime scene is being processed, including the number of victims, which is known to police investigators,” Dougherty said. “But I want to stress that victims’ family members are still be notified. We being very sensitive to the victim’s families.”
Yamaguchi did say there is no ongoing threat to the community.
Another situation that required a SWAT team response in Boulder on Monday, this one at 17th and Grove streets, appears to have been unrelated, he said.
King Soopers spokeswoman Kelli McGannon said the company is cooperating with investigators and will be deferring to law enforcement on all inquiries about the shooting. “Our hearts are broken over this senseless act of violence,” she said.
“He just came in and started shooting”
Video live-streamed by a bystander at the King Soopers at 3600 Table Mesa Drive showed what appeared to be shooting victims, and witnesses told The Denver Post of seeing at least one person who’d been shot.
That live-streamed video also showed a man wearing only shorts being removed from the store in handcuffs after police went in. One of his legs was covered in blood. It’s not clear if the man was a shooting suspect or whether he was arrested.
Two roommates who live near the King Soopers told The Denver Post they were at the self-checkout buying a pizza for lunch when a gunman entered the store.
“He didn’t say shit,” said one of them, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid national media attention. “He just came in and started shooting.”
The other witness said the gunman “let off a couple of shots, then was silent, and then he let off a couple more. He wasn’t spraying.”
The two men were able to escape out the back of the store.
ALERT: Active Shooter at the King Soopers on Table Mesa. AVOID THE AREA. PIO is en-route.
— Boulder Police Dept. (@boulderpolice) March 22, 2021
Boulder Police Department officials tweeted a warning at 2:49 p.m. Monday for people to avoid the area because of an active shooter. A public information officer was on the way to the scene. Further information was not immediately provided.
Law enforcement vehicles and officers massed outside the grocery store, including SWAT teams, and at least three helicopters were over the roof of the store .
Some windows at the front of the store were broken. Authorities over a loudspeaker said the building was surrounded and that “you need to surrender.” They said to come out with hands up and unarmed.
The FBI said it’s helping in the investigation at the request of Boulder police.
Shoppers fled gunfire
Sarah Moonshadow and her son, Nicolas Edwards, had just finished paying for strawberries when two shots rang out. She told her son to get down.
“We just ran,” Moonshadow said.
They felt the concussions of shots as they sprinted out. Outside, a body was lying in the parking lot and Moonshadow started toward it. “My son said, ‘No, Mom! We can’t do anything.’”
By the time they got outside, Edwards said police were flying into the parking lot and pulled up next to the body.
“I knew we couldn’t do anything for the guy” he said. “We had to go.”
They got across the street and hid behind a rock at an apartment
Moonshadow and her son were waiting outside the crime scene because their truck was still in the lot. Their 3-year-old pit bull, Rollo, was inside the truck
James Bentz said he was inside the store when the shooting happened. He said he was in the meat section when he heard what he thought was a misfire, then a series of pops.
“I was then at the front of a stampede,” he said.
Bentz said he ended up jumping off the back loading dock to escape. He said younger people in the store were taking care of older people, helping them off the dock.
“It seemed like all of us had imagined we’d be in a situation like this at some point in our lives,” he said.
Neven Sloan and his wife, Quinlyn, said they were in the store when shots were fired. He was in produce; she was in dairy. They ran to find each other and then escaped.
The shots “were muffled at first and then I heard it echo in the store and I knew we needed to get out,” Neven Sloan said.
He ran back inside to help others out once he knew his wife was safely outside.
“I felt an impulse to go back,” he said.
Quinlyn Sloan said she didn’t know what the first big noise was, and then “people started running. A few stood still like they didn’t know what was happening. Then it (the shooting) went rapidly.”
Video shot at the scene
A YouTube user was live-streaming from the scene starting at roughly 2:30 p.m. His video showed what appear to be shooting victims, and police approaching the front of the badly damaged store in an armored vehicle.
During the video, a man wearing a King Soopers’ employee uniform said the shooter was inside the store, and then what sounded like two gunshots could be heard.
The bystander then retreated, passing by a light-colored Toyota SUV that was parked at the base of an entrance ramp to the store. As he fled, the bystander shouted at others outside to get away.
The King Soopers store anchors a large shopping center in the southern part of Boulder, a few blocks from Fairview High School.
King Soopers officials have not responded to repeated Post requests for comment. The local chapter of the UFCW labor union took to Twitter to say members are keeping an eye on developments from the shooting.
“We are praying that all the #grocery workers and shoppers today – including our 32 members that work at this store—are safe and unharmed,” UFCW officials tweeted.
The Boulder Valley School District is on spring break this week. District spokeswoman Randy Barber said two sports teams were practicing at the high school when the situation began. Once district officials learned what was happening, they sent all students home.
Employees were still locked down inside Murphy’s South, a restaurant and bar on Broadway, as of 4:30 p.m. The business is around the corner from the King Soopers store in an adjacent shopping complex.
Bartender Jordan Michaels said he and his co-workers saw police officers running down the sidewalk in front of the restaurant, then had an officer tell them to lock the doors and hide in the back. Other officers in tactical gear came by later and tried the doors to make sure they were locked.
“All the buildings on this side of the complex are locked down. We’re just hunkering and watching the news and waiting for the all-clear,” Michaels said. “There are people in every store. All the doors are locked and no one’s left.”
Around 5:10 p.m., police tweeted that they were asking people living near 17th and Grove streets in Boulder to shelter in place while officers responded to a report of an “armed, dangerous individual.” Police said they were trying to determine whether it was related to the King Soopers shooting.
Police surrounded a home on 17th and blocked the street. Two armored vehicles are parked outside.
The shelter-in-place order was lifted around 6:40 p.m.
Gov. Jared Polis tweeted just after 4 p.m. that he was “closely watching unfolding events” at the store.”My prayers are with our fellow Coloradans in this time of sadness and grief as we learn more about the extent of the tragedy.”
U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Lafayette, tweeted that he was “praying for the entire #Boulder community & all of the first responders and law enforcement responding to this terrible incident.”
In November 2017, Scott Ostrem walked into a Walmart in Thornton and fired seven shots in 20 seconds, killing Victor Vasquez, 26, Carlos Moreno, 66, and Pamela Marques, 53. Ostrem was later given three life sentences. A motive was never made clear.
The last mass shooting at a grocery store was at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, in August 2019, in which 22 people died and 26 were injured. That shooter targeted Latinos, and has not gone to trial yet on more than 90 federal charges.
And in October 2018, a white man fatally shot two Black people at a Kroger store in Louisville, Ky.; the man pleaded guilty just last week to federal hate crime and gun charges.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
This is a developing story and will be updated. The Denver Post does not report off of police radio traffic, which can be unreliable. Our information will generally come from officials and eyewitnesses and, at times, other media with a track record of accuracy. In fast-moving situations like this, authorities sometimes alter their statements in the wake of new information. The Denver Post will update the story as quickly as possible to correct any errors.