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Boulder Stronger: A community that always has been, and always will be, resilient

A year later, the community reflects on King Soopers shooting
Boulder Stronger: A community that always has been, and always will be, resilient
Posted at 10:43 AM, Mar 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-22 20:53:56-04

BOULDER, Colo. — One year after 10 people were shot and killed inside of a Boulder King Soopers, members of the community are taking time to pause and honor the lives lost while reflecting on what the past year has been like.

There were 10 people killed in the shooting: Denny Stong, 20; Neven Stanisic, 23; Rikki Olds, 25; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Teri Leiker, 51; Officer Eric Talley, 51; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; and Jody Waters, 65.

“It felt like if this can happen in Boulder, this can happen anywhere," said Amy Siemel, who lives near the King Soopers off Table Mesa. “I only came back to the store a couple of weeks ago for the first time. I didn't feel ready until then. And this is only my second time back. It definitely feels heavy.”

Those who have lived in Boulder for decades described the mountain town with many of the same words: sunny, happy, and beautiful. For the people who know and love Boulder, the senseless act of violence could never shatter the sense of community formed in the city.

“I was here in town, and shocked like everybody else," said Evan Freirich, who has lived in Boulder County since 1978. “I was angry.”

In the days following the shooting, the term Boulder Strong was coined. Eventually, that changed to Boulder Stronger, as a way to acknowledge the strength the community has always possessed.

“It's important to mourn. It's important to remember. And when you're ready, it's important to think about what we could be doing better," Freirich said.

Still, as community members walk into the redesigned King Soopers store off Table Mesa, they cannot help but feel the weight of the past year.

“Everyone we know shops here. We knew the employees," said Siemel, who has only been to the store twice since it reopened. “I'm thinking of the people we lost and the people who were here that day. And I'm thinking of what it must be like to be an employee and how that must feel to come here and… and still work here.”

While the lives lost will be honored in a number of ways on Tuesday, perhaps the greatest honor comes from the character demonstrated in what will always be their community.

“I have reflected on a lot. I think the biggest thing I've taken is that life is short, that you just don't know what's going to happen," Siemel said. “You've got to just love your people really well.”