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Boulder victims: A police officer, grocery workers, the son of refugees

A man cleaned the snow off candles and relights them at the makeshift memorial on Wednesday for those who lost their lives in the mass shooting at King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colo.
A man cleaned the snow off candles and relights them at the makeshift memorial on Wednesday for those who lost their lives in the mass shooting at King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colo.STEPHEN SPERANZA/NYT

Ten people were killed Monday when a gunman opened fire at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, the authorities said. They included a Boulder police officer, a young grocery store worker and a retiree filling orders for Instacart.

Among the victims was Officer Eric Talley, 51, with the Boulder Police Department, who had responded to a “barrage” of 911 calls about the shooting. Authorities identified the nine other people who were killed as Denny Stong, 20; Neven Stanisic, 23; Rikki Olds, 25; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Teri Leiker, 51; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; and Jody Waters, 65.

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Here is what we know so far about their lives.

Eric Talley: A veteran police officer

An 11-year veteran of the Boulder Police Department, Eric Talley was described as “heroic” by Chief Maris Herold at the scene of the shooting Monday night.

“He was the first on the scene, and he was fatally shot,” Herold said in a news conference.

“The world lost a great soul,” said Talley’s father, Homer Talley. “He was a devoted father — seven kids. The youngest was 7 and the oldest was 20, and his family was the joy of his life.”

Officer Eric Talley.
Officer Eric Talley. Associated Press

Eric Talley joined the police force as a second career when he was 40, quitting a job in cloud communications.

“He wanted to serve people,” his father said. “All kids want to be a policeman, and in many ways, he was a big kid.”

On Twitter, a woman who described herself as the officer’s sister, Kirstin, said she was heartbroken. “I cannot explain how beautiful he was and what a devastating loss this is to so many. Fly high my sweet brother. You always wanted to be a pilot (damn color blindness). Soar.”

In 2013, the local newspaper, the Boulder Daily Camera, featured Talley and two other members of the force who had waded into a local drainage ditch to rescue a trapped mother duck and 11 ducklings. “He was drenched after this,” Sgt. Jack Walker told the paper. “They would go into these little pipes and he would have to try and fish them out.”

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Talley was the sixth to die on-duty in the department’s history and the first officer killed in the line of duty since 1994, the paper reported.

Rikki Olds: She ‘brought life to the family’

Rikki Olds, a 25-year-old who loved the outdoors, was a front-end manager at King Soopers, where she had worked for about seven or eight years, her uncle, Robert Olds, said in an interview.

“We’re just devastated,” he said.

Olds was an energetic, bubbly and “happy-go-lucky” young woman who “brought life to the family,” her uncle said. Despite the fact that she had endured a hard life, she persevered, he said. She was the oldest of three siblings, and her mother had abandoned her when she was just 7 years old — dropping her off at the doorstep of her grandparents, who raised her in Lafayette, Colorado.

Robert Olds described his niece as a strong and independent woman who enjoyed hiking and camping.

Olds, who was now living on her own, regularly stopped by her grandmother’s house to spend time with loved ones.

Lynn Murray: former magazine photo director

Lynn Murray, 62, a former photo director and mother of two, was at the grocery store Monday filling an Instacart order, which she had enjoyed doing to help people since her retirement.

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“She was an amazing woman, probably the kindest person I’ve ever known,” her husband, John Mackenzie, said in a phone interview. “Our lives are ruined, our tomorrows are forever filled with a sorrow that is unimaginable.’'

Murray was a former photo director for several New York City magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire and Glamour, her husband said. The couple moved from New York in 2002, first to Stuart, Fla., then to Colorado, to raise their children.

“I just want her to be remembered as just as this amazing, amazing comet spending 62 years flying across the sky,” Mackenzie said. She is also survived by two children: Olivia, 24, and Pierce, 22.

While she was working at Condé Nast, Mackenzie said, Murray charmed the notoriously unfriendly man who served as the basis for the “Soup Nazi” character on Seinfeld. He took her to the back of the store and “showed her how everything was done, talked to her, and showed her all of his recipes and explained them all to her. He adored her.”

Murray was artistic, always drawing, doodling and painting, and designed Halloween costumes for her children, Olivia Mackenzie said.

“The most undeserving person to have to be shot down I can think of has to be my mother,” she said, “and I just wish it could have been me.”

Tralona Bartkowiak: A shop manager, newly engaged

Tralona Lynn “Lonna” Bartkowiak, 49, managed a shop in Boulder that sold yoga and festival clothing, and had stopped by the shopping center to pick up a prescription when the shooting happened, said her brother, Michael Bartkowiak of Roseburg, Ore.

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Michael Bartkowiak, who works for a forest products company, described his older sister, the eldest of four close-knit, California-born siblings, as “an amazing person, just a beam of light.” She had moved to Boulder to run the store, Umba, which had been launched by their sister.

“She rented a house outside Boulder,” he said, “and lived there with her little Chihuahua, Opal. She had just gotten engaged. She was, you know, organic — stir fries, salads — she was always trying to be healthier.”

Lonna Bartkowiak loved her work, he said. Initially “the hold-down-the-shop person,” she had branched out in recent years, attending Burning Man and other festivals, where she would mingle with prospective customers.

“Her people,” he said. “She would always say that. ‘I love my people.’”

His voice caught. “She was just great,” he said. “No, she is great. Still is.”

Teri Leiker: A longtime grocery employee

Teri Leiker, 51, had worked for about 30 years at King Soopers, according to her friend, Alexis Knutson, 22. Her boyfriend also worked at the grocery store and was working on Monday, Knutson said.

Knutson met Leiker through a program called Best Buddies that connects students at University of Colorado Boulder and members of the community with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She remembered going together to university sporting events, and how Leiker loved to cheer on the teams.

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“She had the biggest brightest smile,” Knutson said. “She always just had these dimples that, especially when she got excited about something — her smile was just huge.”

Despite their age difference, Knutson said, they bonded and would talk often.

Knutson struggled to comprehend what had happened.

"I don't want her name to be another name next to an age on a list," she said. "If I can share who she was and put her personality and put her with her name, I hope that would cause some ability to change and have an impact."

Kevin Mahoney: His daughter’s hero

“I am heartbroken to announce that my Dad, my hero, Kevin Mahoney, was killed in the King Soopers shooting in my hometown of Boulder, CO,” said Erika Mahoney, news director for KAZU Public Radio in California, on Twitter. “My dad represents all things Love. I’m so thankful he could walk me down the aisle last summer.”

Erika Mahoney shared photos of the wedding, capturing the moment Mahoney, 61, held her arm as they walked up the aisle together.

“I am now pregnant. I know he wants me to be strong for his granddaughter,” she said. “I love you forever Dad. You are always with me.”

Denny Stong: A grocery worker, avid hunter

Denny Stong, 20, had worked at King Soopers for several years. A high school friend described him as one of the kindest people she had ever met.

Molly Proch said they had spent free time together at Fairview High School in Boulder, becoming friends after Stong approached her in the hall one day to compliment her superhero T-shirt.

“I’ve been spending most of my morning crying, really confused on how something like this could happen again,” Proch, 20, said.

“He was an essential worker working at a grocery store. It makes my blood boil,” she added.

Lucy Koulermos, who worked with Stong in 2018 at King Soopers when he was a cashier there — and also attended high school with him — said that he liked dirt-biking, and he would always strike up conversations with her.

Proch said Stong enjoyed hunting and was a strong supporter of the Second Amendment but also supported strengthening certain gun regulations. “He was so passionate about expressing how he thought the government should handle weapons,” to avoid mass shootings, she said. “And then this is how he’s not here anymore.”

Suzanne Fountain: A dedicated gardener

Neighbors knew Suzanne Fountain, 59, as a prolific gardener who passed a steady stream of tomatoes, lettuce and basil over the tall wooden fence surrounding her yard. “She would always share her abundance with us,” said Laura Rose Boyle Gaydos, who until recently had lived next door for more than two years.

She was particularly fond of a peach tree that she had planted and could often be found sitting outside in the early evening, watching the sun set over the mountains. Those who knew her described her as joyous, fun, bright and warm.

Fountain had lived in her house for more than 20 years, raising her son Nathaniel there.

She was an actress in the early 1990s. More recently, she found a creative outlet in eTown, a nationally syndicated public radio show produced in Boulder that combines music and conversation.

She had worked as financial adviser at a Boulder health center and then in 2018 embarked on a new career, starting a business to advise people newly turned 65 about how to apply for Medicare.

Neven Stanisic: The son of refugees

Neven Stanisic, 23, had been fixing coffee machines at the Starbucks inside the supermarket and was in the parking lot, just leaving, when he was gunned down, said the family’s priest, the Rev. Radovan Petrovic.

The son of Serbian refugees who had fled Central Bosnia during the violence of the 1990s, Stanisic was born in the United States. His Facebook page is filled with anime drawings, and his profile picture shows him in a blue cap and gown, posing with friends from his Lakewood, Colorado, high school.

He was the shining hope, Petrovic said, “of a family who, like many refugees, had come with basically nothing but their lives, to start a new life here.”

After high school, Stanisic had gone straight to work repairing coffee machines throughout the Denver area with his father, said Petrovic.

“And now, the biggest question for the family, besides all the sorrow they are enduring, is how this could have happened here,” he said. “They fled war to save their lives, and to be struck by such a terrible tragedy — the loss is beyond comprehension.”

Jody Waters

Jody Waters, 65, was a longtime Boulder resident who worked in and owned boutiques on the city’s Pearl Street Mall, according to The Denver Post.

Waters was originally from Illinois, Jeff Shapiro, who also owned stores on the downtown mall, told the Post. Waters was a favorite among shoppers at the store where she worked, he said.

“It sounds like a cliche, but she would light up a room,” Shapiro said.

Colorado State Representative Judy Amabile, whose district includes the King Soopers, knew Waters and honored her on the floor of the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

“I know her from a store on the Pearl Street Mall where I shop,” Amabile told the Post. Amabile said Waters “was just super energetic and nice and fun.”

Waters was from Barrington, Ill., and studied at the University of Arizona, according to her Facebook page.