‘Beyond Comprehension:’ 10 Lives Lost in Boulder

Eric Talley, 51, had already had a profession working in the tech business when he shifted course at age 40 and joined the Boulder Police Department.

He was as busy on patrol as he was at house, serving to to boost seven kids, the youngest of whom was 7 and the oldest 20. A good friend recalled Officer Talley’s alternative of transportation — a 15-passenger van.

He had accomplished such an intensive job educating his kids first support that when one in all his sons swallowed 1 / 4, one other son sprang into motion, utilizing his father-taught resuscitation expertise. The police division gave the older son an award for lifesaving simply a few weeks in the past.

Officer Talley was on responsibility on Monday when a barrage of calls got here in: Gunfire had erupted at a King Soopers grocery retailer. He was the primary on the scene.

“The world lost a great soul,” mentioned the officer’s father, Homer Talley, a retired optics engineer who lives close to Abilene, Texas. “His family was the joy of his life.”

Like the folks procuring at a Walmart retailer in El Paso in 2019, like these working in three Atlanta space spas final week, 10 victims in Boulder, Colo., together with Officer Talley, have been killed by the gunfire of a closely armed man.

They have been younger and previous, single and married, King Soopers clients and King Soopers staff. The youngest was 20; the oldest 65.

Some had spent years working on the grocery. Others had been in the shop just a few minutes. All left behind family and associates who have been struggling to understand what had occurred and who have been extra keen to speak about how their relative or good friend had lived than how they’d died.

I don’t want her name to be another name next to an age on a list,” mentioned Alexis Knutson, 22, a good friend of Teri Leiker, 51, a King Soopers worker who she mentioned had labored there for about 30 years and who died in the assault.

Ms. Knutson met Ms. Leiker by way of a program referred to as Best Buddies that connects college students at University of Colorado Boulder with members of the group who’ve mental and developmental disabilities. Ms. Knutson remembered going collectively to school sporting occasions, and the way Ms. Leiker beloved to cheer on the groups.

“She had the biggest, brightest smile,” Ms. Knutson mentioned. “She always just had these dimples that, especially when she got excited about something — her smile was just huge.”

She labored as a bagger. If a buyer tried to assist her bag, she was identified to cheerfully swat away their hand and say, “I’ve got this.”

Despite their age distinction, Ms. Knutson mentioned, they bonded, and would discuss usually. “I always had a rule: She couldn’t call before 9 a.m. because I like my sleep,” she mentioned. “She would always call me at 6 a.m.”

Rikki Olds, one other employee at King Soopers, additionally was killed. She had been a front-end supervisor on the retailer, the place she had labored for about seven or eight years, her uncle, Robert Olds, mentioned in an interview.

“We’re just devastated,” he mentioned.

Ms. Olds was an lively younger girl who “brought life to the family,” her uncle mentioned.

She was the oldest of three siblings, and had been left together with her grandparents when she was a teen, Mr. Olds mentioned, including that the grandparents raised her in Lafayette, Colo.

Lately, Ms. Olds had been residing on her personal, however she commonly stopped by her grandmother’s home to spend time together with her grandmother and different family.

“My mom was her mom,” Mr. Olds mentioned. “My mom raised her.”

Denny Stong, 20, labored on the retailer for a number of years. Only a number of years in the past, he had been a pupil at Fairview High School in Boulder.

One day in a corridor at Fairview, he complimented a classmate, Molly Proch, on her superhero T-shirt, and the 2 grew to become quick associates.

“I’ve been spending most of my morning crying, really confused on how something like this could happen again,” mentioned Ms. Proch, 20. “He was an essential worker, working at a grocery store. It makes my blood boil.”

Ms. Proch mentioned Mr. Stong loved looking and was a robust supporter of the Second Amendment, but in addition supported strengthening sure gun rules. “He was so passionate about expressing how he thought the government should handle weapons” to keep away from mass shootings, she mentioned.

Mr. Stong had recently posted on his Facebook page, encouraging associates to donate to the National Foundation for Gun Rights for his birthday.

He dreamed of changing into a pilot, working further shifts at King Soopers to save cash for aircraft gas whereas he labored to get his pilot’s license, mentioned Laura Spicer, whose son was Mr. Stong’s finest good friend.

Lynn Murray, a 62-year-old mom of two, was engaged on Monday, too, however not for King Soopers. Ms. Murray was there filling an Instacart order.

She had retired from working behind the scenes in the New York trend world, her husband mentioned. She was a former picture director for a number of shiny New York City-based magazines, mentioned her husband, John Mackenzie, and the couple moved out of New York in 2002, first to Stuart, Fla., after which to Colorado, to boost their two kids.

“I just want her to be remembered as just this amazing, amazing comet, spending 62 years flying across the sky,” Mr. Mackenzie mentioned. “Our tomorrows are forever filled with a sorrow that is unimaginable.”

To her kids, Olivia, 24, and Pierce, 22, Ms. Murray was a trend professional of a unique kind, with a knack for designing their Halloween costumes.

“The most undeserving person to have to be shot down I can think of has to be my mother,” Olivia Mackenzie mentioned, “and I just wish it could have been me.”

Erika Mahoney, the daughter of one other sufferer, Kevin Mahoney, 61, recalled on social media how he had walked her down the aisle for her marriage final summer season. Ms. Mahoney, the information director for KAZU Public Radio in the Monterey, Calif., space, wrote on Twitter that she was heartbroken.

“I know he wants me to be strong for his granddaughter,” she posted, noting that she is now pregnant. “I love you forever Dad. You are always with me.”

Mr. Mahoney had labored because the chief working officer for Stonebridge Companies, a lodge growth and hospitality administration firm, earlier than he left in 2014, a spokesman for Stonebridge mentioned.

Neven Stanisic, 23, had been fixing espresso machines on the Starbucks contained in the grocery store, however had left and was in the parking zone when he was gunned down, mentioned the household’s priest, the Rev. Radovan Petrovic.

The son of Serbian refugees who had fled central Bosnia through the violence of the 1990s, Mr. Stanisic was born in the United States. His Facebook web page is full of anime drawings. His profile image reveals him in a blue cap and robe, posing with associates from his Lakewood, Colo., highschool.

He was the shining hope, Father Petrovic mentioned, “of a family who, like many refugees, had come with basically nothing but their lives, to start a new life here.”

After highschool, Mr. Stanisic had gone straight to work repairing espresso machines all through the Denver space together with his father, Father Petrovic mentioned.

“They fled war to save their lives, and to be struck by such a terrible tragedy — the loss is beyond comprehension.”

Neighbors knew Suzanne L. Fountain, 59, as a prolific gardener who gave away a gentle stream of tomatoes, lettuce and basil over the tall picket fence surrounding her yard in Boulder.

“She grew some amazing vegetables,” mentioned Laura Rose Boyle Gaydos, who till not too long ago lived subsequent door to her. “She would always share her abundance with us.”

Ms. Fountain was notably keen on a peach tree that she had planted, and will usually be discovered sitting exterior in the early night, watching the solar set over the mountains. She had lived in her home for greater than 20 years, elevating a son and going by way of a divorce.

She had been an actress in the early 1990s, showing in productions on the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, however she had on condition that up. In 2018, Ms. Fountain launched into a brand new profession, beginning a enterprise to advise folks newly turned 65 about how you can apply for Medicare.

Tralona Lynn “Lonna” Bartkowiak, one other of the victims, was the face of Umba, a store in Boulder that offered yoga and pageant clothes. Ms. Bartkowiak, 49, managed Umba, which was launched by her sister, and he or she usually attended Burning Man and different festivals, the place she would mingle with potential clients.

“Her people,” recalled her brother, Michael Bartkowiak. “She would always say that. ‘I love my people.’”

Ms. Bartkowiak was the eldest of 4 close-knit siblings. “She rented a house outside Boulder,” her brother mentioned, “and lived there with her little Chihuahua, Opal. She had just gotten engaged. She was, you know, organic — stir fries, salads — she was always trying to be healthier.”

Ms. Bartkowiak was on the grocery retailer on Monday to select up a prescription when the taking pictures started.

Officer Talley, who by Monday was an 11-year veteran of the Boulder Police Department, was born in Houston and raised in Albuquerque, his father mentioned.

Not lengthy after becoming a member of the Boulder division, he made the native paper, The Boulder Daily Camera. He was talked about, together with two different officers, for a difficult operation — wading right into a drainage ditch to rescue a trapped mom duck and 11 ducklings.

“We’re just trying to put the pieces back together,” the elder Mr. Talley mentioned. “It was always in the back of my mind — and of his mind — that this could happen. It concerned him because he didn’t want to put his family through something like this.”

Neil MacFarquhar and Elizabeth Dias contributed reporting. Jack Begg, Susan C. Beachy and Kitty Bennett contributed analysis.

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