'It Was So Unnecessary': South Boulder Community Still Mourning, Processing King Soopers Shooting
Just over two weeks ago, a shooting at a South Boulder King Soopers tore a hole in the community. 10 people were killed. And in the days since, there have been vigils and funeral services for those lost.
Police have wrapped up their investigation and the alleged shooter has appeared in court. There is still a lot we don't know.
KUNC is checking back in with members of the community to see how they, and the community around them, have been processing this tragedy.
If you need mental health support, call the state’s crisis line 1-844-493-8255 or text TALK to 38255.
Dawn McSavaney, 57:
Dawn McSavaney has fond memories of past shopping trips to the King Soopers on Table Mesa Drive.
“I would expect that any day I walked into King Soopers, it would take longer than I anticipated with my shopping list because I would run into somebody I knew and we'd chit chat,” McSavaney said. “It was a community hub — or is a community hub for this little South Boulder community.”
McSavaney knows many of the shoppers and workers because her family had been visiting the store and shopping center around it regularly since moving to the area in 1999.
Her last trip to the store was less than an hour before the shooting began. Her daughter, Paige, was in the store’s parking lot as police worked to confront the shooter. The narrow timing fills her mind with “what if” scenarios.
“It's just hard to process that,” she said. “All of these people were important to so many others. We lost some wonderful people who've made a great impact in our communities. And it was so unnecessary.”
Seeing the community come together for vigils, on the Nextdoor social media platform to share resources and support and galvanize around gun reform have given McSavaney some healing moments. Being able to leave the state for a few days helped too. But the tragedy still affects her strongly.
“I think it's fluid,” she said. “I think I'm processing it well and then you drive by the site and you see the people out there still paying their respects and you see the streets different, the parking lots empty, and I think that that brings a bunch of emotions.”
Having the King Soopers and Table Mesa shopping center reopen soon would be a “big step” in the community’s processing of this tragedy, McSavaney said.
“These people meant something to this community and they need to be memorialized in some form,” she said. “And it would be nice if we can continue to make some gun reform legislation in recognition of victims who've died from gun violence.”
Paige McSavaney, 18:
Paige McSavaney still vividly remembers the aisle layout of the Table Mesa King Soopers.
“It's really hard to describe the type of feeling that King Soopers gave because it's one of those places that if you never truly experience the type of community that it gives off, it's really difficult to understand,” she said. “There are employees there that my mom has known since (our family) moved to Boulder and that have watched me and my sister grow up here.”
The last time she was there, she was in the parking lot following commands from a SWAT officer as law enforcement confronted the shooter. She had turned into the lot because police were blocking the road just as she was driving down it to a medical appointment.
“It’s something that's going to be ingrained in my brain forever in my memories,” she said. “I'm going to think about it every time I'm in a parking lot and every time I'm at a grocery store.”
Being with the group of people who escaped the parking lot as police surrounded the building felt comforting, McSavaney said.
“I didn't know a single person that was standing around me, but I knew that if I needed anything, they were all there for me,” she said. “I knew they were part of the same community and they felt the same way about this King Soopers.”
That feeling of community support through this shared trauma still remains to this day, she said. Support from friends and social media users around the country has meant a lot to her too.
“There are still days that I feel like I take 10 steps backwards and it is emotionally impacting me the same way that it did in the moment,” she said. “And I think that's probably how it's going to be for a very long time for myself and others.”
For now, she takes comfort in seeing people in her community support each other through the Nextdoor social media platform. She sees people there offering to buy groceries for anyone too afraid or too affected to do so themselves alongside posts containing mental health resources and opportunities for gun control activism.
“The comfort of my own family is honestly the most important thing for me,” McSavaney said. “And I really hope everyone else in the community is getting that same type of support and feedback and comfort from their loved ones and care as well.”
Eric Marrinan, 23:
It’s still really hard for Eric Marrinan to drive past the Table Mesa King Soopers, which is about a block from his parents’ home.
“They used to have these free cookies for kids, so when I go grocery shopping with my mom, I usually get one,” Marrinan said. “(The store) felt just comfortable for me.”
He didn’t know any of the victims directly, he said, but recognized some of their faces from the time he spent in the store. His own mother was also there less than an hour before the shooting began.
“I'm just still trying to accept the fact that it actually happened,” Marrinan said. “Like I know it did, but it's just shocking still.”
He attended one of the vigils the community held in remembrance of the victims and visited the makeshift memorial to Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley, who was killed while responding to the shooting.
“I'm glad I went, but it was just emotionally hard,” he said.
He’s pretty sure he would not want to visit the store again if it reopened. It would be too difficult to think about the tragedy there.
“There definitely has to be a change in gun laws,” Marrinan said. “I think that would be the start of anything.”