Monday’s mass shooting inside a Colorado grocery store is the latest example of gun violence in the state.
Ten people, including a police officer, died after a gunman opened fire at a King Soopers store in Boulder. Maris Herold, chief of the Boulder Police Department, said Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 21, of Arvada, will be charged with 10 counts of murder, according to the Daily Camera of Boulder.
It is the latest example of gun violence in Colorado. A 2019 analysis by The Denver Post found that Colorado had more mass shootings per capita than all but four states. The census-designated Denver metropolitan statistical area, meanwhile, had more school shootings per capita since 1999 than any of the country’s 24 other largest metro areas.
Mass shootings are defined as those resulting four or more people dead, not including the shooter. A database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University shows that Monday’s attack was the seventh mass killing in the United States during 2021. That includes the March 16 shooting at three Atlanta-area spas that left eight people dead.
That same database noted that there were two mass shootings in the U.S. during 2020, and both happened before the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. One occurred at a Milwaukee brewery on Feb. 16 when an employee killed five co-workers before turning the gun on himself, and the other took place on March 15 in Springfield, Missouri, when a man killed four people before shooting himself.
“What we’re looking at now is an issue for society, happening in schools, in Colorado in movie theaters, in churches around the country, airports,” Frank DeAngelis, the principal of Columbine High School during the 1999 shooting, told the Post. “We’re a country, a world, of violence.”
Here are five high-profile shootings in Colorado since 1990:
Chuck E. Cheese, 1993: On Dec. 14, Nathan Dunlap, 19, a former employee at the restaurant in Aurora, opened fire on the staff at Chuck E. Cheese after hours, killing four and wounding one employee. According to authorities, Dunlap entered the restaurant just after closing time, confronting and fatally shooting two workers. He then killed a third employee in a hallway, wounded another in the kitchen, and then killed the store’s night manager in her office. All of the victims were shot in the head.
Columbine High School, 1999: Two students went on a shooting spree on April 20 at Columbine High School in Littleton. The teens killed 12 students and one teacher while wounding 20 others. The gunmen, 18-year-old Eric Harris and 17-year-old Dylan Klebold, killed themselves after the shooting. At the time, the shooting at Columbine was the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, The Gazette of Colorado Springs reported.
The mass shooting shocked the nation and stunned residents.
“This isn’t the middle of New York City, it’s the middle of suburban Jefferson County,” Amy Ericson, a 1986 graduate of the school, told The Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction after the shooting.
According to a diary recovered by authorities, Harris and Klebold had planned the shooting for a year, timing the attack to coincide with Adolf Hitler’s birthday, The Daily Sentinel reported.
“They were going for a big kill,” Jefferson County Sheriff John Stone told reporters. “It was a Nazi kind of thing.”
Youth With a Mission Center and New Life Church, 2007: Shortly after midnight on Dec. 9, Matthew John Murray, 24, opened fire in a dormitory at the Youth With a Mission Center in Arvada. Murray killed two people and wounded two others before escaping from the nondenominational church. Later that day, Murray attacked New Life Church in Colorado Springs, 65 miles away, killing two and wounding three. Murray was wounded by a volunteer security guard at New Life Church before fatally shooting himself. Murray had been kicked out of the church in 2002, officials said.
“Even though Satan attacked my brother, I truly feel God is going to save a whole generation of people because of this,” Murray’s younger brother, Chris Murray, said at the gunman’s funeral service.
Aurora movie theater, 2012: On July 20, an armed gunman, later identified as 25-year-old James Holmes, opened fire 20 minutes into a midnight showing of “Batman: The Dark Knight Rises,” killing 12 and wounding 70. Holmes was a graduate student at the University of Colorado who dropped out of school on June 10, KMGH reported. Holmes had been a doctoral candidate in the university’s neuroscience program.
Police said Holmes was dressed in black and threw a canister that spewed smoke before he opened fire at the front of the theater, the Coloradan of Fort Collins reported.
“I was just a deer in the headlights,” Jennifer Seeger, 25, of Aurora, told the newspaper. “I didn’t know what to do.
“There were bullet (casings) just falling on my head. They were burning my forehead,” Seeger said. “Every few seconds, it was just, ‘Boom, boom, boom.’”
Michael Dailey was a lieutenant with the Aurora Police Department and a co-incident commander during the shooting.
“I can tell you from personal experience when responding to something like that, first off, when the call comes out, it seems almost surreal,” Dailey told KDVR. “You’ve trained for it, you think you’re ready for it. But when it comes out, it’s surreal.”
Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood, 2015: On Nov. 27, Robert Lewis Dear, 57, an armed anti-abortion activist, entered a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs. Lewis killed three people, including a police officer. Nine other people were injured during a standoff that lasted five hours.
While technically not a mass shooting under the database definition, there were plenty of charges issued.
Dear was formally charged with 179 counts of first-degree murder, attempted murder and other crimes. During his hearing in December 2015, Dear declared himself “a warrior for the babies” and admitted his guilt. Dear’s attorney, Daniel King, was the same public defender who represented Holmes in 2012.
“You’ll never know what I saw in that clinic,” Dear yelled at the judge during his hearing. “Atrocities. The babies. That’s what they want to seal.
“Seal the truth, huh? Kill the babies. That’s what Planned Parenthood does.”
“Different events, but the feelings are the same,” DeAngelis told the Post. “We’ve seen this happen in Colorado way too many ways.”
Archival information from Newspapers.com was used in compiling this report.
Cox Media Group