DENVER – The stories of the lives of the 10 victims of Monday’s mass shooting at a Boulder King Soopers include tales of caring and warm-spirited people, grocery workers who worked to save others from bursts of gunfire, a father who became a police officer after the death of a close friend, loving parents, and young people who could fill the room with laughter.
We have spent the day speaking with friends, family members and colleagues of the people taken too soon on Monday, and have compiled stories of their lives below:
Suzanne Fountain, 59, was a warm and caring woman with a passion for theater who worked as a financial counselor in the health care industry, friends and colleagues said Tuesday.
Fountain was one of 10 people killed Monday in a shooting at a Boulder King Soopers.
She had been working with Medicare Licensed Agents and helping sign up people turning 65 for Medicare and work through the process.
Hilarie Kavanagh, the owner of the company, said Fountain had hundreds of clients who “really appreciated her.” Kavanagh said that Fountain worked very hard for her clients.
Fountain had worked at Boulder Community Hospital for 15 years before moving to Kavanagh’s company and also volunteered for eTown Hall, which records and promotes musical, social and environmental programming through a syndicated radio broadcast.
Kavanagh said Fountain loved music and theater, and had performed with the Denver Center for Performing Arts Theatre Company
The DCPA said Tuesday it was heartbroken and saddened to learn of Fountain’s death.
“Our hearts go out to everyone affected by this tragedy,” the DCPA said.
Fountain had also performed at the Nomad Theatre in Boulder, playing a nurse in “Wit” by Margaret Edison, said Brian Miller, who said he remembered her as “a very talented actress and a lovely person.”
Kavanagh said Fountain has a son who lives out of state and a partner.
“She was full of life and really looking to the future and building her own business,” Kavanagh said.
Rickie Olds, 25, was a manager at the Table Mesa Drive King Soopers. Her family said she was a “firecracker” with an infectious giggle, a strong work ethic and an independent spirit.
Olds was working as a front-end manager at the King Soopers at the time of the shooting. Her aunt and uncle said she had been with the company for at least six years.
“She was a worker. So I told you about my dad. That's what he instilled in her,” said Bob Olds, Rickie Olds’ uncle.
Olds was raised by her grandparents and attended Centaurus High School in Lafayette. She played softball on the school’s team.
Her family said she was a self-determined 25-year-old that lit up a room.
“She just walked to the beat of her own drum. She had a beautiful way of just being her. She shined,” said Lori Olds, Rickie Olds’ aunt. “She's a shining light. It's just so sad that it's put out. She had this way of just, I think, like lighting up a room. When you're down, she just wanted to cheer you up, just by being around.”
At a press conference on Wednesday, Bob Olds described his niece as"the light of our lives."
"There's a hole in our family that won't be filled," he said.
Officer Eric Talley
Officer Eric Talley was described by his mother as a man of deep faith, a devoted father of seven children who became a police officer after his friend was killed by a drunk driver.
"He was so deeply loved," his mother, Judy Talley, said on Tuesday.
Talley joined the Boulder Police Department in 2010, when he was 40, his father, Homer Talley, said in a statement Monday.
Talley's father said "he loved his kids and family more than anything."
It was that love for his family that led Talley to recently seek a position off the front lines of the police department.
"He was looking for a job to keep himself off of the front lines and was learning to be a drone operator. He didn’t want to put his family through something like this and he believed in Jesus Christ,” Homer Talley said.
When gunfire rang out at the King Soopers in Boulder on Monday, Talley went into action, trying to save others. His actions have drawn praise from Boulder Mayor Sam Weaver to President Joe Biden.
Biden called Talley "the definition of an American hero," an officer who tried to save others in a mass shooting.
"We cannot never thank Officer Talley or his family enough for their sacrifice, but we will not forget it," Weaver said. "Many are alive today because of the actions of Eric Talley and other first responders and their bravery is a blessing to us all."
Jody Waters, 65, was a staple on the Pearl Street Mall. She used to own a store there and most recently worked at Island Farm – another clothing boutique, friends of hers said.
She was a mother of two and a grandmother, who loved horses and hiking and had a keen eye for design, her friends said.
“Jody was a gentle spirit,” said one friend.
Clothing brand Embrazio wrote on Facebook that Waters was a friend and colleague.
“Jody was a beautiful soul with a warm and loving heart, a mother and a grandmother, and she will be dearly missed by all who were fortunate enough to know her. We are so sad.”
Denny Stong, 20, was inside the King Soopers at the time of the shooting. He worked there, but typically at night, according to his coworker, Logan Smith. He was surprised to see Stong, who was in the store doing his grocery shopping after coming back from the mountains.
Smith was alerted by a customer that the shooting was occurring. Smith stepped outside, saw the gunman firing and ran back inside. He spoke to Stong not long before he was killed.
“I saw him run off, I ran in the other direction and that was the last time I saw him,” Smith said. “He was a brother to me.”
“We are horrified and heartbroken over the senseless violence that occurred yesterday at our King Soopers store located on Table Mesa Drive in Boulder, CO, resulting in the deaths of 10 people, including three of our associates,” Kroger Co., which owns King Soopers, said in a statement. “In the hours since the shooting, we’re learning of truly heroic acts that included associates, customers and first responders selflessly helping to protect and save others.”
Smith said Stong was like a little brother to him. They often went to the mountains together to go target shooting.
“His very honest, blunt personality — he would poke fun at you with no remorse but still love you at the same time,” Smith said.
A friend of Stong’s since elementary school, James Noland, created a GoFundMe to support Stong’s family with funeral expenses or whatever else they may need. Noland described Stong as “a kind soul with a funny sense of humor and unique interests.” Noland says Stong was pro-Second Amendment with plans to get his concealed carry permit once he was old enough.
“He did nothing wrong and deserved this in no way at all. He made no choice that led to this. He simply showed up to work, and was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Noland says on the GoFundMe page.
Noland says he’s heard stories that Stong was not just a victim, but also a hero who “guided people out of the store through the back and was leading people to safety before losing his life.”
“His life was not lost in vain, as he had saved others while risking his. He is a hero,” Noland said.
Stong was a 2019 Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) graduate of Fairview High School.
“While we cannot fathom what would cause such an evil, we know that many in our community acted bravely when faced with unspeakable violence,” a statement from BVSD says.
Tralona "Lona" Bartkowiak
Tralona Bartkowiak, or as people close to her called her, “Lona,” was the owner of Umba Love, a clothing store she co-owned with her sister, Lisa Noble.
A resident of Louisville, Bartkowiak was widely known in the arts and music scene in Boulder and frequented places like The Boulder Theater and the Lazy Dog, the latter of which closed its doors in 2019.
A passion for travel and a thirst for enriching her life experience by learning about other cultures around the world led her to places like Nepal to celebrate the Holi Festival in 2016; Costa Rica in 2017; and most recently, the Burning Man Festival in Nevada, according to photos from her Facebook page.
Bartkowiak was among the ten victims killed in a shooting at the King Soopers off Table Mesa Road in Boulder on Monday, March 22.
A co-worker who worked with Bartkowiak told Denver7 she went to the grocery store to get Benadryl for her boyfriend when the deadly shooting occurred at around 2:45 p.m.
Photojournalist James Dougherty said Bartkowiak used to rent a home from his next door neighbor and would visit because that neighbor still watched over her little dog, which was also the case on Monday.
Bartkowiak was supposed to come by her previous landlord’s home to pick up her dog late last night but never came.
On Tuesday, a small memorial had begun forming outside the Umba Love store in Boulder.
Neven Stanisic, 23, was the second youngest of the victims in the mass shooting.
Stanisic was born in the U.S. after his family fled to America in the late 1990s, leaders at Saint John the Baptist Serbian Orthodox Church in Lakewood told our partners at the Denver Post,.
“His family fled the war in the former Yugoslavia and everything they had was either left behind or destroyed,” said Rev. Radovan Petrovic of Saint John the Baptist. “They left everything to save their lives, and came here to have a new start.”
Stanisic graduated from Alameda International Jr./Sr. High.
His family did not wish to share any statements and asked not to share any photos of Stanisic.
Kevin Mahoney, 61, was among the people killed in the Boulder King Soopers shooting.
His daughter, Erika Mahoney, a news director at KAZU Public Radio in Seaside, California, shared the news of her father’s death on Twitter.
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. My dad represents all things Love. I'm so thankful he could walk me down the aisle last summer. pic.twitter.com/SLS2bdm5Hc— Erika Mahoney (@MahoneyEb) March 23, 2021
“My dad represents all things Love. I’m so thankful he could walk me down the aisle last summer,” she wrote, adding that she was pregnant and that her father knows “he wants me to be strong for his granddaughter.”
The Denver Post reported that Kevin Mahoney worked in hotel asset management and investments.
Lynn Murray, 62, was a mother of two and former photo director for Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire and Glamour, her husband told The New York Times.
She had been working for Instacart on Monday and was filling an order when the shooting happened, according to the NYT. She and her family moved out of New York in 2002 and ended up in Colorado after a stint in Florida.
She was the mother of two children, the Times reported.
Teri Leiker, 51, was a longtime worker at King Soopers who had spent more than 30 years with the company and a major supporter of the Colorado Buffaloes.
According to The Denver Post, she was a favorite among other CU supporters and a regular face at the Pearl Street Stampede while she supported the university’s marching band.
Leiker’s friend, Lexi Knutson, told The Daily Beast that working at King Soopers was Leiker’s “favorite thing to do.” She called Leiker a selfless and innocent person.
Have more stories to tell about the victims that we haven't told yet? Reach out to us via email by clicking here.
KMGH's Blair Miller, Ryan Osborne, Blayke Roznowski, ,Oscar Contreras, Robert Garrison, Stephanie Butzer, Jaclyn Allen, Adi Guajardo and CB Cotton contributed to this story.