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A young grocery store manager killed in Boulder massacre 'lived life on her own terms.' Mass shooting victims, including heroic officer, are remembered

Ten people were killed in a shooting at King Soopers supermarket, including a Boulder police officer, Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold said at a news conference.

Posted: Mar 22, 2021 10:09 PM
Updated: Mar 24, 2021 9:30 PM

Rikki Olds was a vivacious strong, and independent young woman who worked as a front-end manager at a King Soopers grocery store.

'She was so energetic and charismatic and she was a shining light in this dark world,' her uncle Bob Olds said.

Rikki Olds was one of 10 victims of Monday's shooting rampage at the grocery store in Boulder, Colorado.

'There's a hole in our family that won't be filled,' the uncle said at a news conference Wednesday.

Rikki Olds, 25, has a little brother, who is 'taking it really tough,' Bob Olds said.

Bob Olds said he will always remember his niece's independence.

'Rikki lived life on her own terms,' he said. 'She didn't care about if people judged her on her hair color or what kind of tattoos she had.'

He added, 'When Rikki showed up at the house, we never knew what color her hair was going to be. We never knew what new tattoos she may have.'

Olds recalled his niece's dreams and ambitions. The young woman 'wanted to be a nurse, but that plan got altered, so Rikki had a backup plan,' Olds explained.

'Rikki was pursuing her dream of being a store manager at King Soopers.'

She had planned to come over to his house for a family gathering this week, he said. He can't shake her last words to him: 'See you Thursday.'

On Monday, as news of the shootings spread, her family panicked when they couldn't reach her. 'We had to wait and agonize over her fate for several hours,' Bob Olds said.

'After calls to the police department and every local hospital and the coroner's office, we finally received a call back from the coroner's office.'

Two other associates of the store -- Denny Stong, 20, and Teri Leiker, 51 -- were among the victims, according to Kroger, which owns King Soopers.

The first police officer to arrive on the scene, Eric Talley, was among those killed, Boulder police Chief Maris Herold said.

Stong and Olds were graduates of the Boulder Valley School District, Superintendent Rob Anderson said in a statement.

'Several of the other victims were parents of our graduates and given the fact that this is a close knit community, there will likely be many other connections to BVSD schools both amongst those who were killed and other victims,' Anderson said.

'While we cannot fathom what would cause such an evil, we know that many in our community acted bravely when faced with unspeakable violence,' the superintendent said. Anderson pointed to the actions of first responders and of King Soopers employees who 'acted courageously' in trying to get others to safety during the shooting.

'We are eternally grateful for their quick thinking and bravery,' Anderson said.

'A wise young man'

Stong graduated from Fairview High School in 2019, and Olds graduated from Centaurus High School in 2013, he said.

One coworker described Stong as a 'wise young man.'

'Denny was like an annoying little brother to me. I loved him, we picked on each other but respected each other,' said 20-year-old Logan Ezra Smith, who worked with Stong at King Soopers.

'I want people to remember Denny as wise young man, me and him were both big Second Amendment supporters and would go shooting on the weekends, every weekends was a highlight.

'I will miss his smile and his laugh but as well as his honesty. He put you in your place.'

Another friend, Bianca Porter, said she wasn't surprised to hear reports that Stong tried to protect others during the shooting.

'I had no doubt that he lost his life trying to save other people,' she said. 'That's who he was.'

Stong dreamed of becoming a pilot, she said.

'He was really passionate. Denny had a work ethic like no one else that I've ever met,' Porter said.

His job was not the most interesting, 'but he looked forward to doing it, never once did I ever hear him complain about having to go into work late or something,' Porter said.'He just really did what he could and had no complaints.'

'A bright light'

Suzanne Fountain, 59, was the sort of person who made those who met her feel they 'already knew her,' friend Helen Forster told CNN's Erin Burnett.

If you were having a bad day, Fountain's smile would cheer you up, said Forster, who had known Fountain since the late 1980s.

'She just would light up the room, and she was a bright light,' Forster said. 'It's a terrible loss of an incredible human being.'

Fountain, an actress who had performed with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, worked for a nonprofit financial education program, signing seniors up for Medicare, according to Forster.

'All her life really she was about doing service, helping others,' Forster said.

'All you had to do is be around her or her give you a hug, and everything was better.'

Martha Harmon Pardee, an actress, told CNN on Wednesday that she met Fountain on stage more than 30 years ago while performing in a show.

'I loved her immediately,' Pardee said. 'That's just what happened when people met her. She was a bright light, a peace lover, a strong feminist.'

Pardee said she and Fountain acted together only twice -- 'but I never missed a show she was in because I loved to watch her, always learned something.'

'It was a joy and an honor to work with her onstage because she was so connected, and so present and so generous,' she said.

'The most loving person I've ever met'

Flowers, photos, balloons and messages formed a memorial for Tralona Bartkowiak, 49, outside Umba, the Boulder yoga and accessories shop she managed.

Matisse Molina, a friend who worked at Bartkowiak's store, described her as 'the most amazing person I ever met in my life.'

Molina said 'she would rather make friends than sell stuff from her store.'

'There aren't any words that could describe her to who she really was, because she was so amazing,' Molina said.

'She touched so many lives, I can't even tell you. She has brought people from very dark places up to their highest points. She helped me as a person grow tremendously,' Molina added.

Bartkowiak had recently gotten engaged for the first time, a friend told CNN's Kyung Lah.

Her cousin, who went only by David, told CNN affiliate KCAL that his family watched hours of footage covering the shooting when they found out her car was parked in the King Soopers parking lot Monday. Then, at 3:30 a.m., her mother called to say Bartkowiak -- who lived in the same home in which David grew up -- was among those killed.

'She helped raise me, she was always there for me,' he said. 'She was the most loving person I've ever met in my whole life.'

Four other victims

The chief identified the names and ages of the other victims:

Neven Stanisic - 23

Kevin Mahoney - 61

Lynn Murray - 62

Jody Waters - 65

Victim was fixing espresso machine at store

When Logan Ezra Smith, 20, arrived for work as a barista at the store's Starbucks on Monday, Neven Stanisic was working to fix the espresso machine.

'Me and him immediately clicked and were talking the whole time,' said Smith, who has worked at the store about a year. 'I got to know a good part of his life in just a short period of time.'

Smith said he and Stanisic were about the same age and had a lot in common.

'He seemed like a person I would want to hang out with outside of work,' Smith said, adding that now that 'would never happen.'

Smith recalled speaking with Stanisic for more than two hours while the young man worked on the coffee machine.

'He had one of the strongest work ethics of any young person I've ever met,' Smith said. 'He loved what he did. He loved his friends. H loved his family. He was a great man, even knowing him for three hours total.'

Rev. Radovan Petrovic said Stanisic and his family left Bosnia as Serbian refugees and settled in Lakewood, Colorado. Petrovic met the family in 2006 when they started attending Saint John the Baptist Serbian Orthodox Church. The family is filled with hard workers and Stanisic was no exception.

'They always carry a profound memory from the old country but love it here as well,' he said. 'To them, it's beyond comprehension that they fled war and were forced out of their homes and came here for a better life and then have this tragedy happen.'

Petrovic described Stanisic as a 'really good boy' who was brought up to respect others. He loved snowboarding and basketball, which he played with church members.

When Stanisic graduated from high school, he decided it was best for him and his family if he joined the work force. He was a technician who worked on coffee and juice machines.

Petrovic said the family is trying to understand why their son's life was cut short, but to describe in detail how they're feeling is difficult.

'You have to be there to see the agony and the sadness that they have and carry with this tragic loss,' he said. 'The cries and the screams -- that can't be described. They can't stop wondering why. And why their son -- as probably all the other victims are wondering the same.'

A father of 7 was among those killed

Officer Talley ran into danger as the first officer to respond to a call 'about a possible person with a patrol rifle,' the police chief said.

'I have to tell you the heroic action of this officer when he responded to the scene,' Herold said.

She said Talley, 51, had been on the force since 2010.

The veteran officer is survived by his wife and seven children, his father, Homer Talley, told CNN affiliate KUSA.

'He loved his family more than anything,' Homer Talley said.

Officer Talley's bravery was obvious on his last day of duty, his family said.

'Didn't surprise me he was the first one there,' his father said.

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Temperatures today were slightly above average with highs in the upper 80s. Similar conditions are in store for the first half of the day on Monday as well. A cold front will move through the area in the afternoon on Monday bringing chances for thunderstorms. Tonight, however, will be dry with lows in the upper 60s. After a cold front moves through the area Monday afternoon, temperatures will be more comfortable and fall like through the rest of the week.
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