A shooting at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado, has killed 10 people, including one police officer, authorities said on Monday.
The Boulder police chief, Maris Herold, announced the death toll at a news conference Monday night, fighting back tears.
Authorities have released few other details about the shooting, saying at a press briefing on Monday afternoon that they were still in the early stages of the investigation.
The officer who was killed was confirmed as Eric Talley, 51, who had been with Boulder police since 2010, Herold said.
Victims’ families were still being notified so their names weren’t released, said the Boulder county district attorney, Michael Dougherty.
“This is a tragedy and a nightmare for Boulder county, and in response, we have cooperation and assistance from local, state and federal authorities,” Dougherty said.
Dougherty said of Tally, the slain police officer, that he was “by all accounts one of the outstanding officers of the Boulder police department, and his life was cut too short”.
One person of interest has been taken into custody, but no motive has been released. That person was injured in the incident, said Kerry Yamaguchi, a commander with the Boulder police department. There were no other significant injuries reported.
Matthew Kirsch, the acting US attorney for Colorado, pledged that “the full weight of federal law enforcement” will support the investigation. He said investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were at the crime scene, along with FBI agents.
Police responded to reports of an “active shooter” just before 3pm local time in Boulder, massing outside the King Soopers grocery store. Swat teams, and at least three helicopters were on the roof of the store in the city that is home to the University of Colorado, about 25 miles (40km) north-west of Denver.
A man who had just left the store in Boulder, Dean Schiller, told the Associated Press that he had heard gunshots and saw three people laying face down, two in the parking lot and one near the doorway. He said he “couldn’t tell if they were breathing”.
Video posted on YouTube showed one person on the floor inside the store and two more outside on the ground, with the sound of gunshots ringing out.
Officers were seen escorting a shirtless man with blood running down his leg out of the store in handcuffs, but authorities would not say if he was the suspect. They did say the suspect was receiving medical care.
Witnesses described a chaotic scene. A man who said he was shopping at the store told KCNC-TV that he heard a loud bang, then heard another, and by the third, everyone was running. He said they ran to the back of the store, found the employee area and workers told them how to escape.
Another witness, Sarah Moonshadow, told the Denver Post that two shots rang out just after she and her son, Nicolas Edwards, finished buying strawberries. She said she told her son to get down and then “we just ran”.
Once they got outside, she said they saw a body in the parking lot. Edwards said police were speeding into the lot and pulled up next to the body.
“I knew we couldn’t do anything for the guy,” he said. “We had to go.”
Another, James Bentz, told the Post that 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 jumped off a loading dock out back to escape and that younger people were helping older people off of it.
The FBI said its agents were helping in the investigation at the request of Boulder police.
Colorado’s governor, Jared Polis, tweeted that he was “closely watching unfolding events at King Soopers in Boulder. My prayers are with our fellow Coloradans in this time of sadness and grief as we learn more about the extent of the tragedy.”
The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said Joe Biden has been briefed on the shooting.
In a statement, the King Soopers chain offered “thoughts, prayers and support to our associates, customers, and the first responders who so bravely responded to this tragic situation. We will continue to cooperate with local law enforcement and our store will remain closed during the police investigation.”
The attack was the seventh mass killing this year in the US. It comes on the heels of a mass shooting in Atlanta last week that left eight people dead, many of them women of Asian American descent.
According to a database compiled by the Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University, the uptick in mass shootings follows a lull during the pandemic, with 2020 seeing the smallest number of such attacks in more than a decade. The database defines mass killings as four or more dead, not including the shooter.
The Associated Press contributed reporting