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 Lafayette-based 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.
Martha Harmon Pardee met Fountain from doing a show together. She said they clicked immediately.
"She was the matron of honor in my wedding, and I was present at the birth of her son, and then I’m his godmother," Harmon Pardee said. "He’s an amazing young man, and that’s because of Suzanne. She was a fierce, wonderful mother — kind of mother that our young men need."
Harmon Pardee described Fountain as authentic, generous and a talented actress.
"She was a light in this world. She was a helper. She was a giver. She was an amazing mother, a devoted friend," Harmon Pardee said. "She was a source of positive, bright light and energy and love."
Harmon Pardee said she was certain her friend's last moments were spent caring for others.
"She would've been helping," she said. "She would've been helping other people, I just know her."
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.
The Actors' Equity Association on Wednesday expressed condolences for Fountain's death.
“Every shooting, and every unnecessary death, hurts us deeply. But we feel this week’s attack in Boulder, CO acutely, as it took the life of a member of our own community,” Actors’ Equity Western Regional Vice President Doug Carfrae said in a statement. “Suzanne Fountain, who died Monday, was a talented actor and a cherished coworker and friend of many Equity members. Equity members across the country extend their sympathy and support to our colleagues in Colorado as we renew our call to Congress for sensible gun control legislation.”
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.
Rikki 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.
Rikki 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 Robert Olds, Rikkie’s uncle. "His name was Rick. He was a police officer. She was his namesake."
"She's with him now," said Lori Olds, Rikki's aunt. "She beat us all there."
Family members said Rikki was raised by her grandparents and attended Centaurus High School in Lafayette. She played softball on the school’s team and played golf. She briefly attended Front Range Community College.
Her family said she was a self-determined 25-year-old who 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. “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.”
During a press conference Wednesday, Robert shared more memories of his niece.
"Rikki was truly special to us," her uncle, Robert Olds, said Wednesday morning. "Rikki was... the light of our family."
Two days after a shooting that rocked the Boulder community and beyond, Rikki Olds' family shared pieces of her life with the public. Robert Olds spoke on behalf of the family.
"There's a hole in our family that won't be filled," he said. "You try to fill it with memories. You know, that’s tough. It’s tough."
She lived life on her own terms, and her family never knew what color hair she'd have or what new tattoos she'd show when she came to visit, Robert said. She was a "strong, independent young woman," he said.
They'd joke around and laugh and she would sometimes laugh so hard she'd snort, he said with a smile.
He looked up at the ceiling.
"She’s probably going to throw something at me or something for telling you guys that," he said. "I will really miss her and that personality of hers."
Robert's parents — Rikki's grandparents — essentially raised her, he said. When Robert's father passed away six years ago, Robert said he stepped into the role as a father figure a bit more for Rikki. Now, his mother feels like she lost a daughter, he said.
Carlee Lough, who worked alongside Rikki at King Soopers and coached basketball with Robert, also spoke at the press conference Wednesday morning.
Lough said Rikki was always ready to help better a bad day. She was nicknamed Wendy at work because she'd wear braids in her hair often, Lough said.
"If you needed a pick-me-up, you knew where to go," she 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."
Special Olympics Colorado said Officer Talley was a member of the its Law Enforcement Torch Run efforts. They said he participated in multiple torch runs and a "longstanding supporter of inclusion in his career and and in his life."
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.”
Stephanie Boyles said she had known Waters for about eight years after freelancing for Embrazio. She called Waters “a curator” who was outgoing and driven “to become the best version of herself.”
“She was generous of spirit. She would just do things for you and expect absolutely nothing in return,” Boyles said. “…When she walked into a room, she was a breath of fresh air, a light.”
Boyles said she was shocked that the shooting happened in Boulder.
“I think you’ve got to live your life every day, because you just don’t know if you are going to have it tomorrow,” Boyles said.
Her family released the following statement:
It has been comforting and heartwarming to hear the impact that our mom had on so many people throughout her life. But it’s not surprising; she was extremely compassionate, humble, empathetic, and a truly selfless person. For those of you who didn’t get the opportunity to meet Jody Waters, you only know her as the victim of the worst kind of evil. To us, she was Mom, she was Grandma, and she was a friend to everyone she met.
Many people knew our mom through her clothing stores that she owned in Boulder and Denver for more than 23 years. She was a task master, creative, led by example, and had an unmatched work ethic – yet she always had time for others. Personal relationships were everything to her. She was the person who was always there when you needed help, support, or just a listening ear. She had a truly unique ability to connect with people. Honestly, it was sometimes hard to go places with her because inevitably, she would get pulled into deep conversations with people – stranger or friend – who were lucky enough to cross her path.
Although very outgoing, our mom stayed out of the spotlight. She gave so much to others but did so quietly and without any need for recognition or reciprocation. You could often find her hiking in Boulder with her two rescue dogs. Central to all was her family to whom she dedicated her life – two daughters Alex and Channing, son-in-law Corey, her lifelong friend and former spouse Chuck, and most recently, her young grandson Everett, who she called the “light of her life.” We will miss her deeply. As a family, we would appreciate our privacy as we mourn the loss of a life taken far too soon.
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,” "Lonna," was the owner of Umba Love, a clothing store she co-owned with her sister, Lisa Noble.
A resident of Louisville, Lona 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 10 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 Lona told Denver7 she went to the grocery store to get Benadryl for a person she cared about when the deadly shooting occurred at around 2:45 p.m.
Denver7 photojournalist James Dougherty said Lona 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.
Lona was supposed to come by her previous landlord’s home to pick up her dog late Monday 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 from the war in former Yugoslavia, leaders at Saint John the Baptist Serbian Orthodox Church in Lakewood said.
Stanisic graduated from Alameda International Jr./Sr. High.
"They cannot comprehend that they actually fled this country to save their lives and start new, and now they're having to deal with this terrible tragic loss of their son," Rev. Radovan Petrovic of Saint John the Baptist said. "That is something that is striking them the most right now."
Petrovic said Stanisic was respectful and hard working.
"He was brought up very well. His parents taught him to be respectful of other people, especially those older than him. He was a very quiet boy, very polite and a very hardworking. He started working out of high school to help his family and advance in his company." he said.
Stanisic had just finished repairing a coffee machine inside the grocery store's Starbucks kiosk and had returned to his car when he encountered the gunman.
The family of Stanisic issued a statement about Neven on Thursday morning:
“The Stanisic family wishes to express its gratitude for all the support and kindness extended by friends, neighbors and the family’s church, as well as by local authorities, including the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office. They also thank the broader Serbian community across the country and beyond for reaching out to them in this time of need.
“We express our deepest condolences to other families of the innocent victims.
Neven’s funeral will be this weekend — however, services are open only to family members, parishioners and those close to the family. The family respectfully but firmly requests that no news media attend.
“The family further requests that news media do not attempt to contact or approach family members in general until further notice. The family has been bombarded by media requests and urgently needs time away from the public.
“Parishioners have united in prayer for the Stanisic family and have set up a memorial in front of their church, where people can bring candles, pray and pay respect to Neven. We graciously request that this weekend and its events be left to the family.”
When Edite Maloku, an Albanian refugee from Kosovoa, heard Stanisic’s story she knew she wanted to help. She says the political conflicts in Eastern Europe have created a deep divide between the Albanian and Serbian community, but she feels their families are more alike than different.
“I can’t imagine if that was my son. I can’t imagine what she [Neven’s mother] must be feeling, and I just know from one mother to another mother, that is enough for me — that she deserves love,” Maloku said.
Maloku has set up a GoFundMe to help raise money for the Stanisics, and the Saint John the Baptist Serbian Orthodox Church says it’s arranged for the donations to go straight to their family.
“I just had a deepest sympathy for them, Maloku said. “I’m hopeful that I, hopefully, will get to meet them and be able to give them a hug and give them my condolences in person.”
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.”
In an interview with CNN, Erika said her dad was the "best example of a dad." He was a volunteer for Meals on Wheels for the last few years and loved hiking.
"This is such devastating news, and it's so hurtful, but I know my dad would just want me to be the mom I will be and to carry on, and so, we're going to do that for him," Erika said.
Kevin's wife of 35 years said the past year was a blessing because they were able to spend so much time going for walks, cooking and watching TV together.
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.
Special Olympics Colorado said Wednesday that Leiker was a member of the intellectual and developmental disabilities community and a former Special Olympics athlete. They said she "brought life and light to all she did."
Her family issued a statement Thursday morning remembering her as a sweet, loving and joyful person.
Mom Margie, Daddy Tom, Brother Kevin, Sister-in-Law RoxAnn, and niece Rachael wish to thank the community for the outpouring of love and support it has shown their family in response to the senseless death of their beloved Teri. She was their sweet, sweet girl. Teri’s capacity for love was immense. They say she was the most joyful person to be around. Everyone loved her and she loved them back. She was known as a big hugger with a big smile, was sweet, caring, had a memorable laugh, and an incredible memory. During the floods and fires, she would cry and be so sad for the people affected. She always wanted to donate to them. She loved watching Disney movies and comedy on television. She had a great sense of humor.
Teri was born in 1969 in Colorado and spent her life in Denver, but mostly in Boulder County. To say she loved this area would be an understatement. She loved admiring the “Flatirons” and saw beauty in nature. At age three she was diagnosed with cognitive disabilities but that never stopped her. She was strong willed and was able to overcome any obstacle. Her positive spirit and determination to succeed led her to graduate from Longmont High School’s special education program. At the age of 21 she began living independently, with help from Imagine Colorado. She started her first and only job with King Soopers on May 23, 1989 and was proud to have been there so long. She looked forward every year to her work anniversary. Teri was a Courtesy Clerk (front end bagger), brought in buggies, and helped anywhere she was needed. She smiled at her customers and tried to share her happiness with them. She loved her job, customers and co-workers. In 31 years she was absent from work only due to minor health issues. She called her mom every day when she got home from work to let her know she was safe.
She was so proud in 2007 when she was able to buy a condominium through the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority. She loved her home; said she would never live anyplace else. She took great pride in keeping it spotless.
Her involvement in the Boulder community was profound, and especially with the University of Colorado. For 11 years she was active in the Best Buddies program. Best Buddies facilitates the creation of one-on-one friendships between students and members of the community with intellectual or developmental disabilities, to create a more inclusive world where organizations like it need not exist. “None of our chapter events were their best without Teri in attendance; the energy, love and humor she radiated was infectious. She taught us how to be CU Buff super fans, caring and deliberate friends, and joyous community members the world needs more of,” said Liz LaJoie, CU Best Buddies Chapter President.
Teri loved CU. She was excited when CU football was being played in Boulder. She attended almost every stampede over many years. She was there celebrating with her arm around “Chip” the mascot. She was able to attend a couple of football games, and frequently went to CU women’s hockey games. She loved all of it. She was a devoted fan and supported the marching band where she was frequently seen urging CU to victory. She always wore her black and gold CU outfits when they were playing and watched every game on television that she could.
In the early 1990s Teri found love with Jean Le Clare and enjoyed a relationship with him until his untimely passing in 1995. She later dated David whom she was with for many years. She loved traveling having visited Alaska, Hawaii and took many cruises with David and his family.
In 2019 she began dating Clint who is also a King Soopers employee (thank God he was not a victim) – she being there 31 years and he being there 32 years. They worked together and were friends for a very long time before their relationship began. In October 2020, Clint moved into Teri’s condo with her and they were excitedly planning their future together with an upcoming trip and planting a small patch of garden. Clint will be living in Teri’s condo to stay as close to her as he can.
In her younger years, Teri was quite the athlete. She was active in Special Olympics where she ran track and field, played basketball and softball. Every Memorial Day for around 15 years, she volunteered to provide security for the Bolder Boulder. She was so looking forward to walking the Bolder Boulder with Clint this May. For many years she and David went to the Dark Horse every Thursday night to eat hamburgers and sing Karaoke. She wasn’t a great singer, but she had great fun.
While absolutely devastated by her death, her family is thankful she didn’t have to live with the horrible memories of that day, to see what happened to her customers and co-workers – it would have been very overwhelming for her. She may have never again been able to be the wonderful person she was living with that trauma. She could not have gotten over it. Her loved ones are comforted in knowing she was met in heaven by her dear cousin Mark, her grandmother Jean, and other family and friends. They will miss and love her forever.
Have more stories to tell about the victims that we haven't told yet? Reach out to us via email by clicking here.
Denver7's Blair Miller, Ryan Osborne, Blayke Roznowski, Oscar Contreras, Robert Garrison, Stephanie Butzer, Jaclyn Allen, Adi Guajardo and CB Cotton contributed to this story.