Active Shooters in Boulder, Colorado and Atlanta, Georgia - Starting A Deadly 2021
Two massacres in less than a week have left communities across the country in shock and despair. Despite mass shootings being seemingly absent from the media during the coronavirus pandemic, real data shows they were still happening the entire time.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit group that catalogs gun violence in the U.S., 104 mass shootings have occurred in 29 states plus Washington, D.C. in 2021 so far (as of March 22, 2021). Gun Violence Archive defines a mass shooting as four or more people shot or killed in a single incident, not including the shooter.
It's a dramatic rise compared to the same date last year where 66 mass shootings had taken place by March 23, 2020. The coronavirus lockdowns that transformed life in the U.S. in the months that followed did little to stop mass shootings—611 took place in 2020 overall, the highest number since the Gun Violence Archive started tracking them in 2014. 1
2021's mass shootings have killed more than 125 people and injured at least 399 others (as of March 22, 20201). Six of those shootings count as mass murders, where four or more people have been killed in a single incident not counting the shooter. 2
Boulder, Colorado Active Shooter - King's Soopers Grocery store
On Monday afternoon (March 22, 2021), a gunman opened fire inside the King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado. Ten people were killed, including a police officer who arrived on the scene.
The officer, Eric Talley, 51, an 11-year veteran of the Boulder police force, was the first officer to arrive at the King Soopers grocery store Monday afternoon, police Chief Maris Herold said. He had been dispatched after gunfire was reported, she said. Officer Talley was a father of seven whose most significant appearance in the news prior to this was back in 2013, when he helped retrieve a family of ducks from a drainage ditch. Herold provided no details about the other victims. She said a suspect who was injured in the shooting is in custody. She didn't provide details about a potential motive.
Logan Smith works at a Starbucks inside the grocery store. He told NBC's "TODAY" show that a customer ran into the store just before 2:30 p.m. and said there was an active shooter in the parking lot. Smith said he ran outside, heard gunshots, and went back inside to call 911.
"And then shooting began inside," he said. Smith said two of the victims were his co-workers.
Newlyweds Neven and Quinlyn Sloan said they were grocery shopping when shots rang out. In an interview with the "TODAY" show, Quinlyn Sloan said she was by the dairy area when she heard what sounded like "bangs" coming from outside. Initially, she didn't think the sounds were gunshots.
A man with his hands behind his back could be seen leaving the store with authorities. It wasn't clear whether the man, who was wearing no shirt or pants and had blood streaming down his leg, was the person of interest.
A spokesperson for the grocery store said the company was "horrified by the senseless violence." The governor of Colorado, a state that has endured multiple mass shootings, called the latest incident an "unspeakable tragedy" and said he was "closely watching the situation." 3
UPDATE on SUSPECT:
3/24/21 - BOULDER, Colo. -- Law enforcement officials and former associates of a 21-year-old accused of killing 10 people at a Colorado supermarket described the suspect as someone prone to sudden rage who was suspended from high school for a sudden attack on a classmate that left the student bloodied. Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, who is from the Denver suburb of Arvada, was booked into jail Tuesday on murder charges a day after the attack at a King Soopers grocery in Boulder. He was due to make a first court appearance Thursday (3/25/21). Alissa had bought an assault weapon on March 16, six days before the attack, according to an arrest affidavit. Investigators have not established a motive, said Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty. It was not immediately known where the suspect purchased the weapon.
A law enforcement official briefed on the shooting said the suspect's family told investigators they believed Alissa was suffering some type of mental illness, including delusions. Relatives described times when Alissa told them people were following or chasing him, which they said may have contributed to the violence, the official said. After the shooting, detectives went to Alissa's home and found his sister-in-law, who told them that he had been playing around with a weapon she thought looked like a "machine gun" about two days earlier, according to an arrest affidavit. When he was a high school senior in 2018, Alissa was found guilty of assaulting a fellow student in class after knocking him to the floor, then climbing on top of him and punching him in the head several times, according to a police affidavit. 7
3/29/21 - The suspect, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 21, was charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder, one for each of the victims, which included Boulder Officer Eric Talley. He also faces a charge of attempted first-degree murder for attempting to kill Officer Richard Steidell, who also responded to the scene, a charging document says. The suspect's next court date will be announced the week of 3/29/21. Police Chief Dougherty confirmed that the suspect legally purchased the gun used in the shooting days before at a store in Arvada. He described the gun as a Ruger AR-556 pistol. The shooter also had a 9mm handgun that he didn't fire, Dougherty said. He said that he wants the court proceedings to stay in Boulder County. Because of that, he said he will be limited in the information he can share about the investigation to avoid a defense request to move the case to another jurisdiction. He emphasized that the suspect has a right to a fair trial. 8
- The officer, Eric Talley, 51
- Denny Stong, 20;
- Neven Stanisic, 23;
- Rikki Olds, 25;
- Tralona Bartkowiak, 49;
- Suzanne Fountain, 59;
- Teri Leiker, 51;
- Kevin Mahoney, 61;
- Lynn Murray, 62;
- and Jodi Waters, 65.
King Soopers, the Colorado-based grocery chain that saw one of its stores become the site of the mass shooting, is donating $1 million to support community healing in the wake of the deadly gun violence. 9
Looking to donate after King Soopers shooting? Here's how to help 10:
- Donations for Officer Talley can be made through the Colorado State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police by visiting www.coloradofop.org. You can also support Officer Talley’s family by donating to the Boulder County Injured & Fallen Officer Fund at www.bouldercounty.org/safety/sheriff/fallen-officer-fund/.
- The Colorado Healing Fund is collecting donations to support the needs of victims, families, and the larger community a. You can find more information at www.coloradohealingfund.org.
- Community Foundation Boulder County is also collecting donations through the Boulder County Crisis Fund. You can make donations to that organization at www.commfound.org.
- If you have additional questions about donations, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPDATE: AN ACCOUNT OF THE EVENT FROM SOMEONE WHO WAS THERE - 4/12/21
Inside a small room where she and four others were hiding from a gunman just steps away from their locked door, Olympic hopeful Maggie Montoya made a quiet and emotional phone call to her parents.
Just to tell them one last time that she loved them.
"Because I honestly thought," Montoya softly said, "that was it."
The 25-year-old distance runner was working in the pharmacy at the King Soopers supermarket in Boulder, Colorado, on March 22 when 10 people were killed, including a police officer, in a mass shooting. For a harrowing hour or so, she and those with her waited in the room — growing more and more fearful that a constantly ringing pharmacy phone outside their door would betray their location — until they were escorted to safety by the SWAT team after the shooter was arrested.
The next day, Montoya was picked up by her dad and taken home to Rogers, Arkansas — to be with family and remember those who lost their lives. To emotionally mend from that time she spent behind a metal door where she could hear everything, including the chilling voice of the gunman. And to forget this image: Bloody footprints close to that door that she was later told likely belonged to the wounded gunman.
On that Monday afternoon, Montoya was just a few hours into her shift following an exciting weekend during which she finished seventh at the USA Track & Field 15-kilometer championships in Florida. A pharmacy tech, Montoya was helping with paperwork for customers who were receiving COVID-19 vaccinations, when she heard a loud noise. At first, she couldn't place it.
A dropped jar in an aisle? Fireworks?
Her manager instantly recognized the sound of gunfire and yelled active shooter.
Montoya and four others ran into the consultation room that was right off the pharmacy, with a door that locked to the customer side.
"There was so much gunfire," she recalled. "I just thought, 'I don't know how many shooters there are.' We were just waiting for the moment that they were going to hop the counter in the pharmacy and be able to get into the room with us."
She called mom and dad. She then handed her phone to her boss, who texted her husband.
As they waited, Montoya messaged her running coach, Dr. Richard Hansen, who was working nearby and provided constant updates as he watched a live broadcast.
That pharmacy phone outside their door, though. It wouldn't stop ringing.
About 20 times, Montoya estimated. Each ring made their hearts skip faster, fearing that could be the sound to alert the gunman to their presence.
One of them held a chair, just in case. It was their only defense.
Over the store's loudspeaker, Montoya said she heard an announcement to the shooter to surrender. She said the gunman screamed his response with a closeness that startled them. It sounded like he was right outside their door. Just before the SWAT team entered the grocery store, Hansen alerted her. The warning helped.
"Because it was super loud and very shocking," she said. "If I wouldn't have known, that would have been just really horrible to hear without knowing that it was actually the people coming to get us."
She heard people conducting a sweep of the area, then hop the pharmacy counter, and later a knock on the door — the SWAT team. Montoya and her group — reunited with colleagues and customers — were led outside the store. On the way, Montoya spotted what was believed to be the gunman's bloody footprints near their room.
Atlanta, Georgia Active Shooter - Atlanta Spas
Eight people were killed in shootings at three metro Atlanta spas. Police have 1 suspect in custody. Eight people were killed and one person was wounded in the attacks. Two of the shootings were at spas across the street from each other in northeast Atlanta and the other happened about 30 miles away in Cherokee County to the northwest of the city. The suspect in the shootings was taken into custody in Crisp County, about 150 miles south of Atlanta, around 8:30 p.m. -- about 3 1/2 hours after the killings. 4
Authorities are searching for answers to why a gunman opened fire at the three massage parlors across metro Atlanta on Tuesday afternoon (March 16, 2021). However, Cherokee County Sheriff's Capt. Jay Baker said Wednesday that the gunman, identified as Robert Aaron Long, 21, of Woodstock, admitted to killings and blamed the massage parlors for fueling his sex addiction.
Long was charged in connection with the shooting at Young's Asian Massage in Acworth, and at the Aroma Therapy Spa and the Gold Spa in Atlanta. It was confirmed Wednesday morning (3/23/21) that the shooter was on his way to Florida to "commit similar acts" before he was captured. Authorities said they believe he was going to carry out another shooting. 5
CLICK HERE to hear the released 9-1-1 Calls from the Atlanta Massage Parlor Shootings.
- Name: Delaina Ashley Yaun, Age: 33, Gender: Female, Status: Killed
- Name: Xiaojie Tan, Age: 49, Gender: Female, Status: Killed
- Type: Victim, Name: Daoyou Feng, Age: 44, Gender: Female, Status: Killed
- Type: Victim, Name: Paul Andre Michels, Age: 54, Gender: Male, Status: Killed
- Type: Victim, Name: Elcias R. Hernandez-Ortiz, Age: 30, Gender: Male, Status: Injured
- Type: Victim, Name: Suncha Kim, Age: 69, Gender: Female, Status: Killed
- Type: Victim, Name: Yong A. Yue, Age: 63, Gender: Female, Status: Killed
- Type: Victim, Name: Hyun J. Grant, Age: 51, Gender: Female, Status: Killed
- Type: Victim, Name: Soon C. Park, Age: 74, Gender: Female, Status: Killed 6
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The two mass killings highlighted above left 18 dead inside of a week. These active shooter events reminded us that even with pandemic hope on the horizon, we must remain vigilant for a different reason. Americans shouldn't have to fret about dying in a supermarket, or at a spa, or anywhere for that matter. Catching a bullet should be far from their minds, but with a return to American normalcy comes the reality that anyone could die for nothing, just about everywhere. Let ASR show you how we can better protect your organization today.