DENVER -- Colorado has a long, painful history of gun violence. After the most recent shooting last week at a Boulder King Soopers, there have now been seven mass shootings in the state since 1993.
Denver7 is defining a mass shooting as an event where four or more people were killed or injured, not including the gunman.
Aurora Chuck E. Cheese Shooting 1993
The first mass shooting happened in Aurora at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant where four employees were killed. Bobby Stephens who was the lone survivor of the 1993 shooting. Prosecutors said the gunman was seeking revenge after being fired from his job there as a cook. He entered the restaurant, hid in a restroom and emerged after closing, prosecutors said.
Columbine High School Shooting 1999
Two students at the Jefferson County high school killed 13 and wounded more than 20 others on April 20, 1999.
Frank DeAngelis was the principal at the time of the shooting.
“Colorado is right near the top of these mass tragedies happening,” he said.
When DeAngelis learned about the shooting in Boulder, he said it took him back to that day at Columbine. He, like so many, is asking why these keep happening in Colorado.
“It saddens me. And it’s just trying to find the answers right now after these events, what is causing this? And how do we stop this?” DeAngelis said.
Mission and New Life shooting in 2007
A gunman opened fire in 2007 at the Youth with a Mission in Arvada, and hours later at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs. In total, four people were killed.
Aurora Theater Shooting in 2012
The midnight showing of the “Dark Knight Rises” movie was the next target of terror in Colorado. The shooter entered a packed Aurora theater and began shooting, killing 12 people and an unborn baby on July 20, 2012.
That date is forever seared in Heather Dearman’s memory. Dearman’s cousin, Ashley Moser, was paralyzed in the shooting. Moser’s unborn child and daughter Veronica Moser, 6, were also killed.
Dearman often comes to the 7-20 Memorial in Aurora after other mass tragedy events.
At the memorial, there is a statue of 13 cranes representing all the victims.
“It’s inspiring to come here, it really is, looking at the 13 climbing towards the heavens,” she said. “It reminds you that their love is still alive.”
Dearman helped bring the 7-20 Memorial to life in a garden across from Aurora’s City Hall.
“We built it for people who have gone through tragedy and need to find a place of peace,” she said. “I don’t think we could have ever imagined so many people would need to come here, especially from our own state.”
Sandy Phillips's daughter, Jessica Ghawi, also died in the Aurora theater shooting.
“I think there is a gun culture that exists in Colorado that doesn’t exist in some of the other states,” Phillips said.
A Denver Post analysis done in 2019 shows the Denver metro area has the third-most mass shootings per capita in the country.
Shortly after hearing about the mass shooting in Boulder, Phillips said she made a devastating connection.
The wife of Kevin Mahoney, one of the victims in the Boulder shooting, was one of her daughter’s journalism professors at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
“It’s one degree of separation for all of us,” she said.
They now join thousands of other people who are survivors of events of mass casualty — each with their own unique story, sharing a common bond.
“It’s just astonishing how many of those we know about,” Phillips said.
Planned Parenthood shooting in 2015
Three more people were killed and nine were injured in 2015 during a mass shooting at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs. The suspect is a man with a history of mental illness.
The suspect has not been found competent to stand trial thus far, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office has ruled out the federal death penalty in the case.
STEM School Shooting in 2019
Kendrick Castillo was killed in the shooting after two fellow classmates opened fire inside of STEM School Highlands Ranch. Eight others were injured.
One of the suspects who was a juvenile at the time pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and other counts last February and was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. The other suspect’s case is expected to go to trial in the coming months.
Boulder King Soopers shooting in 2021
The shooting at the Boulder King Soopers, in which 10 people were killed, marks the third-deadliest mass shooting in Colorado.
Denver7 did not include the Thornton Walmart shooting in November 2017 because it does not meet the qualifications for a mass shooting, but three innocent lives were still lost in our community that day.