Police arrest suspect in Thornton Walmart shooting; 3 dead

Posted at 6:33 PM, Nov 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-02 22:37:23-04

THORNTON, Colo. – Police have arrested the suspect in a deadly shooting at a Thornton Walmart store.

Scott Ostrem, 47, was taken into custody Thursday morning at 72nd and Federal after a citizen tipped off police. Officers didn't say if they recovered any weapons.

Witnesses told Thornton Police that Ostrem "nonchalantly" walked into the store Wednesday night, took out a handgun and began firing randomly at people. Two men and a woman were killed.

On Thursday, the coroner for Adams and Broomfield counties identified the three dead as 52-year-old Pamela Marques of Denver, 66-year-old Carlos Moreno of Thornton, and 26-year-old Victor Vasquez of Denver.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims and everyone touched by this incident,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “We thank the first responders whose actions restored calm and are helping the community recover.”

"This is a very heinous act," Avila said. "We don't know exactly what the motive of the person was, but it was certainly a terrible act."

Police originally reported "multiple parties are down" after they were called around 6 p.m. to the store located at 9901 Grant Street in Thornton. The store was evacuated as authorities arrived on scene and officers described the situation as "mass chaos."

Police found the victims in the south entrance. The two men were pronounced dead at the scene. The female victim was transported to Denver Health where she later succumbed to her injuries. 

IMAGES | Photos capture chaotic scene after Thornton Walmart shooting

No other physical injuries were reported. However, police say several people received medical attention for anxiety. Several distraught employees could be seen in the parking lot comforting each other.

Investigators say there is no indication that terrorism was a motive, but have not ruled anything out at this point. They are still interviewing hundreds of witnesses and going through surveillance video.

Police said it took some time to identify Ostrem as the suspect in part because surveillance video showed other people in the store with guns drawn. Once Ostrem was identified, Thornton alerted other law enforcement agencies to be on the lookout.

Special agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were helping police in the investigation.

The shooting at the busy shopping center forced customers to either hide in the store or frantically run for the doors.

Harold Stevens told Denver 7 he was in the store with his son when he heard at least three shots. He said an employee directed him and his son to a back door where they were able to escape safely.

Darlene Jackson had sprinted away from the gunfire Wednesday night.

“By the third pop, is when you hear the screaming. That’s when you see everything happening or unfolding in front of you, but I never turned around,” said Jackson. “I’m literally seeing the man drop and crawl. I’m seeing the woman scramble to get her kids.”

Jackson and dozens of others were waiting in the parking lot, as police searched and cleared the Walmart. She tells Denver 7 she spoke to a man who got a good look at the suspect.

“He just came in. He just walked in as if no care in the world,” said Jackson, as she recounted her conversation with another witness of the shooting. “He started shooting randomly. He wasn’t shooting at any one specific person.”

She had a panic attack shortly after she ran out of the building, she says because she mistook someone for the shooter. The screams from the other shoppers, specifically a woman behind her, are present in her mind.

A Walmart spokesperson said no store employees were injured in the shooting and issued the following statement:

The entire Walmart family is deeply saddened by this tragic event. Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to the families who lost loved ones and to all who were impacted by what took place. We are assisting law enforcement however we can and are referring all requests for information to them. 

Walmart and police were allowing people who left belongings behind during the shooting to come back and identify the property. There were also therapy dogs present to help employees and witnesses coming back to gather their belongings. The store will remain closed until the store finishes its "recovery," a spokesperson said.

A tip line has been established for anyone who may have information about the shooting, or video of it. Call 720-977-5069 to leave a tip.