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Remembering The Victims Of Monday's Shooting In Boulder


Authorities in Colorado have identified the 10 people killed yesterday in the supermarket shooting in Boulder. The victims ranged in age from 20 to 65. They included store employees, customers and a police officer, who was among the first to respond to the scene. They were sons, fathers, grandmothers, mothers, retirees. Police also identified the gunman, who remains in custody. They say he is a 21-year-old born in Syria who grew up in the United States, and they say he purchased the rifle last week. Authorities have not released a motive.

We have details in another part of the program about the police investigation. And we're going to speak now with May Ortega of Colorado Public Radio, who has spent the day learning more about some of the victims.

May, thanks for joining us.

MAY ORTEGA, BYLINE: Thanks for having me, Ari.

SHAPIRO: I understand in the hours since the names were released, you and your colleagues have learned more about those who died. Tell us what you've learned.

ORTEGA: Yeah. As you said, it's a range of victims from young to the old. The oldest was a Boulder woman named Jody Waters. She was 65. I spoke with her friend and business associate Stephanie Boyles, who said Waters was a gentle spirit.

STEPHANIE BOYLES: When you were in her presence, you felt the love - also, looking to be her best self.

ORTEGA: Boyles says she learned the news about Waters' death through a friend last night.

BOYLES: I'm just heartbroken. And it just seems so senseless. This person went and killed her. He didn't know her.

ORTEGA: Boyles says Waters had quite the eye for style and design, telling me that Waters used to be in the fashion business and used to own a boutique. She and Boyles had been friends for eight years, and she says Waters had two daughters and a grandchild and that those relationships have been taken away.

SHAPIRO: Now, she was the oldest victim at 65. And I understand you've learned something about the youngest, too.

ORTEGA: Yes. Denny Stong was the youngest person killed. He was 20 years old. He had worked at King Sooper since 2018 according to his Facebook page, but we believe it was a different location. His Facebook profile picture says, I can't stay home; I'm a grocery worker - kind of referring to, you know, staying indoors during the pandemic. A fundraiser for Stong's family said that he was a kind soul with a funny sense of humor and unique interests and said that he had risked his life to protect others during the attack.

SHAPIRO: And he was friends with one of the other victims who died. Is that right?

ORTEGA: Yes. Stong and another victim named Rikki Olds were Facebook friends, and he would sometimes leave, like, friendly comments on her profile pictures. We know that Olds was 25, and she lived in Lafayette, which is some 10 miles west of Boulder. She worked as a manager at the King Soopers where the shooting happened. Her aunt shared a class photo of Olds from 2013, and she captioned it asking, why you? Why not me? And she wrote that Olds hadn't even lived yet. And her partner posted a photo of himself and Olds together this morning and captioned it with, Rikki, baby, you were taken too soon. He also wrote that he missed her dearly.

SHAPIRO: What other kinds of tributes are you seeing online today?

ORTEGA: Well, one was about Kevin Mahoney, who was 61. He was remembered by his daughter, Erika Mahoney, on Twitter this morning. She shared a photo of him walking her down the aisle in her wedding dress and said that she was thankful they were able to share that moment last year. She also said he represented all things love, and she called him her hero. Mahoney's daughter is the news director of member station KAZU in Monterey Bay in California, by the way. And she also tweeted out that she's pregnant, and she knows he wants her to be strong for his granddaughter.

SHAPIRO: And just briefly, as we mentioned, an officer was among those who were killed. What more have we learned about him?

ORTEGA: Yes. Police officer Eric Talley was the first officer on the scene. He had been with the Boulder Police Department since 2010, and he actually previously made local headlines for saving a bunch of ducklings from a lake. His father told Denver7 that Talley took his job very seriously. He had seven kids, and the youngest of them was 7 years old. His father also said that Talley was learning to fly drones for the department because he didn't want to be on the frontlines and risk his life.

SHAPIRO: That is May Ortega of Colorado Public Radio.

Thank you for speaking with us.

ORTEGA: Yeah. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

May Ortega
May is a Texas native who came to New Mexico to begin her professional career as a journalist in early 2017. She previously worked as a technology and healthcare reporter with Albuquerque Business First and has held various internships with newspapers around the country.May joined KUNM's Public Health New Mexico team in early 2018. While print news has been her livelihood since her college days, she sees radio as a more intimate way to provide a platform for underrepresented voices.
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