'We remember them': Boulder community gathers to honor those lost in King Soopers shooting

The crisp chill of the wind on Tuesday felt fitting for an event held in recognition of a year passing since 10 lives were lost in a shooting at the south Boulder King Soopers.

“The sharpness of the chill reminds us of the sharpness of the grief we have for those that we’ve lost,” Mayor Aaron Brockett said. “But we also know that spring is around the corner and with it the hope and the warmth that that will bring.”

The Day of Remembrance event, held in the early evening at the Glen Huntington Bandshell in downtown Boulder, included remarks from past and present city, state and federal officials as well as local faith leaders.

It served as a tribute to the people who died when a gunman entered the Table Mesa Drive store on March 22, 2021, and to the grief that’s been present in the community ever since.

City Manager Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde was not officially in that role last March but was in the city on the day the shooting happened and said the grief and sadness was palpable. In reflecting on what she might say at Tuesday’s event, Rivera-Vandermyde kept coming back to the communal “culture of we.”

“Today I encourage you to look at either side of you, in front of you, behind you, around you and acknowledge the healing presence of your neighbors,” Rivera-Vandermyde told the crowd. “This is what community is all about, and we are so blessed in Boulder to be part of such an outpouring of love.”

Former Boulder Mayor Sam Weaver, who was in the leadership role at the time of the shooting, asked: What good can come from so much senseless pain and suffering? How will the community learn from this?

For Weaver, the answer is to “strive passionately for a world where mass killings are a distant memory and to show more love and care towards one another.”

From his perspective, love means respect in disagreement; forbearance when offended; and forgiveness when wronged.

“There is no time to waste in starting to treat each other better, each and every day,” he said. “If that is a measure of grace which we can take away from this tragedy, the loss of our 10 friends will not have been in vain. As we look at the world around us, it’s clear that we cannot start soon enough.”

When a community experiences mass violence, it can often feel like the national attention quickly fades. However, locally, “the marks from the shooting have not gone away, even if attention has shifted maybe in some circles,” Brockett said in an interview ahead of the event.

“It’s not something we have moved on from,” he said.

Aside from the outstanding impact on the community, the shooting renewed the city’s energy for gun control legislation, Brockett noted.

The shooting at King Soopers at least in part contributed to the Colorado legislature repealing a preemption statute, allowing local municipalities more control over gun legislation.

Boulder City Council earlier this year expressed support for several measures, including one that would reinstate the city’s assault weapons ban. These measures are likely to be brought forth for a hearing in the next few months.

At the conclusion of Tuesday’s event, those in attendance were sent home with votives and invited to light them Tuesday evening as a final tribute.

As the interfaith group of leaders reminded the crowd through a call and response during the event, so long as the memory of those lost carries on, they will not be forgotten.

In the rising of the sun and in its going down, “we remember them,” the crowd chanted.

Killed in the shooting were Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley, 51; Denny Stong, 20; Neven Stanisic, 23; Rikki Olds, 25; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Teri Leiker, 51; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 61; and Jody Waters, 65.

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