Shoppers and staff have described their terror as they fled for their lives when a gunman opened fire in a Colorado supermarket.
Sarah Moonshadow, 42, a customer and resident of Boulder, was in the store with her son, Nicholas, on Monday and recounted scenes of pandemonium as gunfire rang out.
“We were at the checkout, and shots just started going off,” Moonshadow told Reuters. “And I said, ‘Nicholas get down.’ And Nicholas ducked. And we just started listening and there, just repetitive shots … and I just said, ‘Nicholas, run.’”
Moonshadow said she tried to help a victim she saw lying on the pavement just outside the store, but her son pulled her away, telling her, “We have to go.” She broke down as she said: “I couldn’t help anybody.”
Police responded to reports of an “active shooter” at the King Soopers grocery store just before 3pm local time on Monday in Boulder. The gunman killed 10 people, including the first police officer to arrive on the scene, Eric Talley. A suspect has been arrested.
The bloodshed came less than a week after gun violence last Tuesday that left eight people dead, including six Asian women, at three day spas in and around Atlanta.
Ryan Borowski was inside the store when the shooting began. He told CNN: “I saw terrified faces running towards me and that’s when I turned and ran the other direction.” He said staff helped customers to exit from the back of the store but some people froze. “We ran and I don’t know why other people didn’t and I am sorry that they froze and I just wish that this didn’t happen – I wish I had an answer for why it did,” he said.
Alex Arellano, 35, was working in the meat department at King Soopers when he heard gunshots and saw people running for the exit. “I thought I was going to die,” he told the New York Times, when he heard the shot getting closer. “I’m thinking of my parents, and I was freaking out.” He hid with two other men before escaping through a rear exit.
Gunfire could be heard in live video posted by Dean Schiller from the scene. The footage showed three people who appeared to be wounded – two outside the store and one inside. Police could be heard saying, “The entire building is surrounded, you need to surrender.”
An unnamed man told CNN affiliate KCNC his family had been awaiting a Covid vaccination at the King Soopers pharmacy when the gunman entered and shot someone in front of them. The man’s relatives hid in a closet for an hour before being rescued through the roof.
“They were texting, hiding in the coat closet. Turned their phone off and were going ‘we’re hiding, we’re okay’ you know, ‘don’t call’ you know the phone would ring and give away their position,” he said.
Colorado has been the scene of some of the most shocking mass shootings in modern US history.
In 2012, a young man dressed in tactical gear burst into a movie theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora during a midnight screening and sprayed the audience with gunfire, killing 12 and wounding 70. In 1999, a pair of students went on a shooting rampage at Columbine High School near Littleton, Colorado, murdering 12 classmates and a teacher before taking their own lives.