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“He just shot at us twice!” Emergency radio traffic reveals harrowing massacre at Boulder King Soopers

The Colorado Sun listened to archived emergency radio scanner traffic to paint a picture of how the police response to Monday’s shooting unfolded in real time

Police outside a King Soopers grocery store where a shooting took place Monday, March 22, 2021, in Boulder. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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At about 2:45 p.m. on Monday, the Boulder police scanner sprang to life. A dispatcher announced with calm specificity that there was a shooting in progress. It was an active shooting. 

The King Soopers at 3600 Table Mesa Drive. A white man was firing on people in the parking lot. He was possibly wearing a tactical vest. He had a rifle.

Law enforcement raced to the scene and planned their response while en route. When the first police officers arrived, they found carnage: One person lying unresponsive on the ground outside of the store in the parking lot. Then another. Then a third just inside of the King Soopers’ doors. 

“Shooter is inside!” an officer frantically called out from inside the store. “He just shot at us twice.”

The driver’s side window of a food-service repair technician’s vehicle was shot out in the parking lot of the Table Mesa King Soopers store in Boulder where a gunman opened fire on March 22, 2021. (Steve Peterson, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Then a few seconds of calm. Then chaos.

“Officer down inside the building!” someone said over the police scanner. 

The Colorado Sun listened to archived emergency radio scanner traffic to reconstruct how the police response unfolded in real time. While sharing scanner information as an event unfolds is frowned upon as it can give away police positions and tactics, using it after a situation has concluded can help confirm details and provide clarity into what happened.

A Boulder police officer, 51-year-old Eric Talley, was one of 10 people killed in the attack on the Table Mesa King Soopers Monday afternoon. Boulder police Chief Maris Herold said Talley was first to arrive on scene.

FULL COVERAGE

See all of The Sun’s coverage of the Boulder King Soopers shooting.

A suspect was in custody after being wounded in the shooting. The person’s name was not immediately released. Neither was a motive. Video from a news helicopter showed police walking a handcuffed man to a stretcher after the shooting. He was wearing only boxer shorts and his leg was covered in blood.

(“Due to body armor, head-shots only,” one officer said over the radio about a half-hour into the shooting.)

Officers arrived at the scene within minutes. Officer Talley was shot within 10. Within about 15 minutes, Boulder police were launching a SWAT response and summoning officers from Jefferson County. There was a medical helicopter on the way, too.

People trapped in the King Soopers in the Table Mesa Shopping Center when a gunman began shooting are interviewed and tended to by emergency responders in Boulder on March 22, 2021. (Steve Peterson, Special to The Colorado Sun)

“You may need more than one helicopter?” a dispatcher asked.

“Multiple people down,” an officer responded.

The dispatcher understood.

Multiple medical helicopters would arrive. None would carry a patient away. Everyone on scene who was wounded was either dead or soon to be in handcuffs.

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