A hearse carrying the body of a Boulder, Colo., Police Department officer who was one of 10 victims in the mass shooting at a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colo., heads along Foothills Parkway Wednesday, March 24, 2021, in Boulder, Colo. Boulder Police Department Officer Eric Talley was killed responding to the shooting attack on Monday. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
  • Star Samkus
  • APTOPIX Supermarket Shooting
  • Robert Olds, Carlee Lough
  • Supermarket Shooting
  • APTOPIX Supermarket Shooting
  • APTOPIX Supermarket Shooting
  • Supermarket Shooting

BOULDER |  An employee of the Colorado supermarket where a gunman killed 10 people watched as the assailant opened fire and narrowly escaped his notice while joining with other bystanders in a desperate scramble to get away.

Emily Giffen, 27, was smoking outside the store Monday during a break when she heard multiple loud pops that she knew were not fireworks. She said she saw a man running across an intersection suddenly fall over and another man approach him in a crouch and fire several rounds at close range.

“I don’t know how he didn’t see us,” she said of the attacker, who walked right by her before she ran into the King Soopers store and out the back. Newly fallen snow made people trip and slip as they tried to escape, she said, showing a large bruise on her arm that she said happened when someone stepped on her.

“I just really am having a hard time understanding why me and my friends deserve to die,” she said, wondering why the gunman chose to target the Boulder store specifically. “It doesn’t seem personal, so I don’t quite get why we pulled that lottery ticket.”

Giffen made the comments Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press as families mourned the dead and multiple law enforcement agencies pressed ahead with what they said would be a monthslong investigation. Officials hadn’t released new details on that investigation by late Wednesday.

The 21-year-old suspect, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, was in jail and scheduled to make his first court appearance Thursday on murder charges. No lawyer was listed for Alissa in court records.

More than 500 people bundled in masks and wool hats attended a downtown candlelight vigil Wednesday night to mourn the victims. They observed a moment of silence; violins soothed the crowd; and a woman sang “Ave Maria” as candle flames flickered in the crisp air.

Other community vigils were planned to honor the victims. The Boulder Police Department invited the public to show support for Officer Eric Talley, who was killed, by witnessing a police procession Wednesday as his body was taken from the coroner’s office to a funeral home in the Denver suburb of Aurora.

Red and blue lights flashed along a parkway as dozens of officers from Boulder and neighboring departments stood at attention. When the hearse passed, the officers saluted as one shouted, “Attention!” One person held an American flag.

Talley, 51, was the first officer to arrive at the scene. He had seven children, ages 7 to 20.

The other victims were 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 Jodi Waters, 65.

Olds, Leiker and Stong worked at the supermarket.

Kim Cordova, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, which represents more than 30 store employees, said they did their best to get customers to safety.

“They grabbed everybody they could, and they brought them to the backroom or to other areas of the store to hide, or got them out through the back dock,” Cordova said.

On Facebook posts and in an interview, Giffen said her friends deserved better, not to die at work while doing their jobs.

“This guy, he went hunting in a barrel full of fish. Nobody was prepared to fight back. No one was even prepared to hide,” she said. “It’s just the fear like, where do you, where do I ever feel safe?”

Giffen, who said she has worked at the King Soopers for three years, described a close-knit community where she chats with customers and remembers their bagel orders from when she worked at a nearby bagel place.

On the neighborhood-based social media app Nextdoor, Giffen watched as people asked about her co-workers by name, listing them one by one to find out if they were all right.

“It was so beautiful to see all of these people who live right here with me actually acknowledge individual people’s names,” she said. “They don’t just know us as their employees. We’re a part of their community.”

The attack was the nation’s deadliest mass shooting since a 2019 assault on a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, where a gunman killed 22 people. It was also the seventh mass killing this year in the U.S., following the March 16 shooting that left eight people dead at three Atlanta-area massage businesses, according to a database compiled by the AP, USA Today and Northeastern University.

It follows a lull in mass killings last year during the pandemic.

The Colorado suspect bought a Ruger AR-556 pistol — which resembles an AR-15 rifle with a slightly shorter stock — on March 16, six days before the attack, according to an arrest affidavit.

Authorities have not disclosed where the gun was purchased.

According to two law enforcement officials, Alissa was born in Syria in 1999, emigrated to the U.S. as a toddler and later became a U.S. citizen. He would need to be a citizen to buy a gun. The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to AP on condition of anonymity.

An AR-15-style gun was recovered inside the supermarket and was believed to have been used in the attack, said a law enforcement official briefed on the shooting who was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

The law enforcement official said the suspect’s family told investigators that he had delusions and that they believed he had some type of mental illness. The relatives described times when Alissa told them people were following or chasing him, which they said may have contributed to the violence, the official said.


Beaty reported from New York. Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo and Colleen Long in Washington, Jim Anderson in Denver and AP staff members from around the U.S. contributed to this report. Nieberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.


One reply on “King Soopers worker narrowly escaped gunman’s notice”

  1. My older brother and his family live only 10 mins away from this King Soopers, and were regular shoppers there. (He retired recently, as a Master Sgt. After more than 25 years in the USMC) As I watched this unfold-on YouTube, like so many others, I was shocked and physically sick with worry and sadness. I found out later that my brother-my HERO-had been in that store with his 8 year old twin daughter and son just a few hours before this horrific event. The impact of what has happened in Boulder is felt far and wide,as I live in Central Florida. My family has now donated to several charities for the victims, and so has my brother and his family-but it still seems like it’s not enough, and wish so badly we could do more. On another note, I’d like to say how impressed I was with the young barista named Logan, whom in an on-camera interview said he was no hero -(although I’m sure the woman and her family that he hid behind trash cans believe otherwise) but that law enforcement were the real heros, and officer Talley was the biggest of them all. (He is 100%correct-and I mourn with his family and all of his brothers and sisters in blue) For only 20, Logan is a brave and humble young man with a bright future and I pray he gets counseling for what he endured and that he knows he can overcome this and have an extremely bright future ahead. If only more young men were raised as well as he obviously was, and if America would pass common-sense gun reform; we would all live in a much safer, happier Country. So many less moms and dads would be burying children, more children would get to be raised by their parents instead of attending their funerals, friends would enjoy more laughter with one another, and husbands and wives could celebrate more anniversaries and growing old with one another. I was in the 10th grade when my class watched the TV in horror as Columbine unfolded. I am 37 now. I have a 17 yr old in High School and 2 more children in Elementary School and I’m terrified for them every day. This has got to STOP. I’m a Republican. I believe in the 2nd amendment. But there’s no reason for a civilian to carry an AR15, or anything like it. Enough is enough. Republicans want gun reform too. Its time the Government listens to the people. They were terrified at what happened on January 6,2021 ( thankfully, no one in Congress lost their lives) and took action immediately for what happened to them. Imagine if something like this tragedy befell them instead. We would have had gun reform the next day. Our senators from both sides of the isle need to woman and man up, and do the right thing. Americans are tired of living in fear and grieving for their brothers and sisters every single week. God Bless Boulder ????

Comments are closed.