We’re currently on Spring Break staying in a beautiful resort in California overlooking the Pacific Ocean. When our phones started blowing up yesterday afternoon with calls and text messages from friends and family wondering if we were ok, we were initially confused. Once we realized what was happening, we immediately started calling our neighbors and friends who live nearby to see if they were safe. Given the proximity to our home and the centralized location of the incident, it seemed inevitable that we would have friends in the area or even in the store when the shooting took place.
The King Soopers grocery store sits in the small Table Mesa Shopping Center that serves as the heart of South Boulder. My family visits this shopping center almost every day, and so do all of our neighbors. Not only is the Table Mesa Shopping Center centrally located, but you can find everything you need all in one place. There is an ice cream shop, a coffee shop, a pizza place, a Chinese restaurant, a bagel place, a brewpub, a pharmacy, and many other convenient shops. As the center of it all is the King Soopers grocery store.
To suggest our little community is tight-knit would be an understatement. It is the type of place where you are just as likely to walk or bike to the shopping center as you are to drive. I can’t remember the last time I visited the shopping center without stopping to talk to friends and neighbors. I’ll admit that I would sometimes grumble that I couldn’t run into King Soopers to pick up a quick item without having to stop for two or three chats inside the store after chance encounters with friends.
King Soopers serves as an after-school gathering spot for Southern Hills Middle School and Fairview High School students. The shopping center is a short walk from the school to the store where kids can pick up snacks and King Sooper’s famous free cookies for kids. All three of my kids have spent countless hours hanging out with friends at King Soopers after school. The older lady who works at the Starbucks inside King Soopers has often given our daughter, Amelie, free treats on her daily visits to the store. Sarah and I have often joked that the affection and corresponding free treats came from the fact that the Starbuck’s lady was Asian and Amelie is half Korean.
It is not surprising that we know three different friends that were in the store a few minutes before the shooting started. Fortunately, all of them were gone when the incident took place. One of our kids has friends who had a gun pointed at them while in their car in the parking lot. They are also thankfully safe.
To think of these events unfolding in our little neighborhood is just impossible to comprehend. People lost their lives for no reason in the same place we have bought Easter eggs for our kiddos for the last five years. Today we are holding each other tight and praying for the families who lost loved ones in this horrible tragedy.