By BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC News
(BOULDER, Co.) — They were community residents going about their normal routine of shopping at a grocery store, unaware that it would be the last act of their lives.
Among the victims were a 25-year-old grocery store worker who was raised her by grandparents to be strong and independent and a 61-year-old man who will never be able to see or hold his expectant grandchild.
The names of the nine civilians and one police officer killed in Monday’s mass shooting at the King Soopers store in Boulder, Colorado, were released on Tuesday, just hours after the last body was removed from the supermarket.
“I don’t know all the details at this time. I’ve spoken to some of their families, and I can just tell you that they’re heartbroken and this is the worst call you could ever receive as a family member,” Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold said at a news conference.
Among those fatally shot was Officer Eric Talley, 51, a father of seven, who was the first officer to respond to the store when 911 calls about the shooting came in. Herold said Talley was shot when he rushed into the store to save lives and engaged the suspect in a gunfight.
“I can tell you that he’s a very kind man. He didn’t have to go into policing,” Herold said of Talley, who joined the police force at the age of 40. “He had a profession before this, but he felt a higher calling. And he loved this community, and he’s everything that policing deserves and needs. He cared about this community, he cared about the Boulder Police Department. He cared about his family, and he was willing to die to protect others.”
Herold said she recently had Talley and his family in her office to present one of Talley’s sons with an award for saving the life of his little brother.
“Officer Talley taught CPR. He taught his family CPR. And one of his sons’ swallowed a quarter, and because Officer Talley taught his children CPR, one of his sons was able to save the little boy’s life,” Herold said.
At the White House, President Joe Biden praised the “exceptional bravery” of Talley and expressed his and first lady Jill Biden’s “deepest condolences” to his family.
“When he pinned on the badge yesterday morning, he didn’t know what the day would bring,” Biden said of Talley. “He thought he’d be coming home to his wife and seven children, but when the moment the act came, Officer Talley did not hesitate in his duty, making the ultimate sacrifice in his effort to save lives. That’s the definition of an American hero.”
Her voice choking with emotion, Herold read the names of the other nine victims, the youngest 20 and the oldest 65.
— Denny Stong, 20
— Neven Stanisic, 23
— Rikki Olds, 25
— Tralona Bartkowiak, 49
— Teri Leiker, 51
— Suzanne Fountain, 59
— Kevin Mahoney, 61
— Lynn Murray, 62
— Jody Waters, 65
Rikki Old’s uncle, Robert Olds, told ABC News on Tuesday that his niece was a “strong, independent” woman who had worked as a manager at the grocery store for six years.
“She was bubbly. She was the light of the room,” Robert Olds said. “Her giggle, her laugh would just bring you up to her level. You know what I mean? She was so loved, and she will be so missed. We are heartbroken and saddened and devastated.”
He said his family was notified around 3 a.m. Tuesday that his niece was among the deceased.
“We called the police, we called hospitals, no one had information,” he said of what he and his relatives did before they received the grim news. “We sat on the fence for 13 hours. There’s got to be a better way. My niece is lying on the concrete floor of that … store by herself.”
Robert Olds said his niece was raised by his parents, Rikki Olds’ grandparents.
“My dad, Richard Olds, instilled in Rikki that you need to be strong, you need to do it on your own. It’s not about anyone else, it’s about you. Don’t depend on anyone else. Depend on yourself,” Robert Olds said, adding that his father passed away six years ago. “My mom raised her as well, and she is still alive. She knows, and she is devastated. This is not supposed to happen that way.”
Kevin Mahoney’s daughter, Erika Mahoney, posted photos on Twitter of her father walking her down the aisle at her wedding last summer. She wrote that she is now pregnant.
“I know he wants me to be strong for his granddaughter,” Erika Mahoney wrote. “My dad represents all things Love.”
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said the “senseless tragedy” hit close to home. He said he lives in the community and has shopped at the King Soopers store.
“My heart aches today, and I think all of ours does as Coloradans, as Americans, for this senseless tragedy, the loss of life,” Polis said at the news conference.
Speaking of the victims, Polis said they were people of all ages “who started their day with a cup of coffee or reading the morning paper, perhaps getting their kids ready and putting on a winter coat to go out.”
“None of them expected that this would be their last day here on the planet,” Polis said.
“A simple run for milk and eggs, you know, getting ready to shop,” he said. “Going in the regular way we all lead our lives, something that we can all identify with, led to a complete tragedy here.”
Biden ordered flags to be flown at half-staff at the White House for the second time in a week. Last week, the president had flags lowered to half-staff in honor of the eight Georgia spa shooting victims, an order that expired at sunset on Monday.
“Jill and I are devastated, and I just can’t imagine how the families are feeling, the victims whose futures were stolen from them, from their families, loved ones, who now have to struggle to go on and make sense of what’s happened,” Biden said.
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