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Coloradan eyewitness to Kansas City shooting: "I looked over, people were running for their lives"

Rory Schmalzried, a lifelong Chiefs fan and also a Denver7 employee, was in Kansas City on Wednesday just outside of Union Station when the shooting happened.
Posted: 5:01 PM, Feb 14, 2024
Updated: 2024-02-14 19:39:25-05
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DENVER — The mass shooting following the Chiefs Champions Victory Parade killing at least one person and injuring up to 22 others, including children sent stunned Kansas City Chiefs fans running for cover, including one Coloradan visiting the city during the celebration.

Rory Schmalzried, a lifelong Chiefs fan and also a Denver7 employee, was in Kansas City on Wednesday just outside of Union Station.

As the celebration wrapped he said he picked up his backpack to leave when the shooting started.

“We heard what I thought were fireworks, so I was pretty calm. I looked over and people were running for their lives,” said Schmalzried. “My nephew looked at my brother and I and said ‘aren’t we going to get out of there?’”

He said he looked at his brother and still thought: “It’s just fireworks.”

Schmalzried said in those first few moments they watched and started walking away when they heard the emergency response.

“We started hearing there had been a shooting and multiple people shot,” he told Denver7 Investigative Reporter Tony Kovaleski. “When we heard what we thought was fireworks and we looked down and everybody ran, there was one guy laying in the middle of the ground. I thought he had probably been run over by the crowd and was injured that way.”

He said when he got back to his car where cell phone service was working, his phone lit up with people checking on his status.

“My wife had been trying to call me and texted me and she was pretty freaked out. That’s when I started to realize that this was probably a bigger deal than what I realized it was at the time.”

1 dead, 10-15 injured in shooting at Chiefs victory parade

Scripps News

1 dead, 21 wounded in shooting at Chiefs victory rally

Scripps News Staff
1:14 PM, Feb 14, 2024

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas addressed a stunned city on a day which should have been about celebrating the Super Bowl champions.

“This is absolutely a tragedy the likes of which we would have never expected in Kansas City and the likes of which we will remember for sometime,” he said, “We went out today like everyone in Kansas City looking to have a celebration, that celebration was marred by a shooting.”

Scripps News affiliate and Denver7 sister-station KSHB in Kansas City reported one person was killed, three others were in critical condition and five people were reported to be in serious condition.

It was unclear how many victims suffered gunshot wounds or other injuries.

Mayor Lucas said Kansas City Chiefs players, coaches and staff were accounted for and all reported to be safe.

Kansas City Chiefs' Super Bowl parade turns to chaos after shooting

Kansas City Missouri Police Chief Stacey Graves, who was nearby and heard the shots, said during a press briefing she did not believe any of the victims were children, but later authorities said it was believed at least 11 children were hit by gunfire, KSHB reported.

“I’m angry at what happened today. The people who came to this celebration should expect a safe environment,” said a visibly upset Graves. “We had over 800 law enforcement officers, Kansas City and other agencies at the location to keep everyone safe.”

Police told KSHB two armed individuals were detained by police moments after the shooting happened on the west side of Union Station in Kansas City.

“Immediately officers responded to the area, took two people into custody and immediately rendered life sustaining aid to those victims,” said Graves.

Eyewitnesses in disbelief began telling their stories as the news broke.

“All of a sudden the girl next to me where my daughter was standing with her husband, was shot in the mouth, our children witnessed it. She was on the ground bleeding from the mouth, all over her shoulder,” said a mom who was not identified. “I’m never bringing my kids to another place like this again.”

1 dead, 21 wounded in shooting at Chiefs victory rally

She said this was the second time she had brought her family to an event and witnessed a shooting.

Schmalzried had planned in the past to visit Kansas City when the Chiefs won the Super Bowl but decided against the trip when the weather wasn’t as pleasant as it was on Wednesday, which was beautiful and in the mid-60s.

“It was like I’m not going to miss it,” he added.

Hours after the shooting, Schmalzried admitted the realization of what happened on the day he decided to celebrate his favorite team in Kansas City hadn't set in.

He said he considers himself lucky.

"Anytime gunshots go off, anybody that's in the direction of it is in danger. And we were there, we just didn't realize it," reflected Schmalzried. "So there were a lot of us who were lucky and fortunate and I'm glad of that."

He added he was surprised at how he reacted when the shooting started.

“Once we realized it wasn’t fireworks, it was kind of like I can’t believe I had such a slow reaction to it. It never did feel like we were in danger, and I know it sounds weird that we were that close,” he said. “Once the adrenaline of the day wears off and the excitement of seeing my team celebrate, I may look at it a little differently.”

One dead, multiple injured in mass shooting at Chiefs victory parade in Kansas City

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