The March 22 attack on a Boulder King Soopers, in which ten people were killed, has seized the nation's attention, even prompting President Joe Biden to make a renewed call to ban assault weapons of the sort used by the gunman. But mass shootings are hardly unusual in Colorado, and you don't need to turn back the clock to the 1999 assault on Columbine High School or the 2012 Aurora theater killings to prove it.
The tragic incident in Boulder was actually the sixteenth mass shooting in the state over the past year and a half — an average of just under one a month. Eleven of them occurred in metro Denver.
This information is culled from the Gun Violence Archive, which tracks violent episodes involving firearms across the country, including Colorado. GVA identifies a mass shooting as an incident in which at least four people are injured or killed; like another major compiler, Mass Shooting Tracker, it places no additional restrictions on what qualifies. Other organizations define the term "mass shooting" differently, as noted in a 2018 RAND Corporation report. For instance, Mother Jones counts only so-called "indiscriminate" incidents with three or more fatalities other than the shooter, and excludes crimes of armed robbery, gang violence or domestic violence. Likewise, Stanford University's Mass Shootings in America database skips shootings related to gangs, drugs or organized crime, but requires just three fatal or non-fatal injuries aside from the shooter.
But those who get hung up on these distinctions are at risk of missing the larger point about the frequency of multi-victim shootings — one which we underscored in an August 2019 post published in the immediate aftermath of mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that took a combined 31 lives. According to the Gun Violence Archive, Colorado suffered 24 mass shootings between the site's 2013 launch and the summer of 2019. That worked out to four per year, or one every three months.
The pace of Colorado mass shootings has nearly tripled since then — and because they're so commonplace, few become dominant media stories. Many readers will have a tough time remembering any of them beyond the King Soopers shooting, despite the elevated number of people hurt or slain. For example, who recalls the July 2020 shooting in Park Hill that killed two people and injured three others? The next month, a shooting in a Denver park left nine people wounded, six of them children.
Here are the sixteen mass shootings in Colorado over the past eighteen months, beginning in October 2019 and culminating with the horrific bloodshed in Boulder:
October 6, 2019
7100 block of Ruth Way, Adams County
The shootings happened following an argument at a home in Adams County where a large gathering had been under way. More than a hundred people were fleeing when law enforcement arrived. No arrests have been reported.
January 11, 2020
17158 East Adriatic Place, Aurora
The shootings occurred in an apartment complex, where a suspect — a sixteen-year-old male — was arrested.
February 29, 2020
Starr Lane and County Road 2, Brighton
Three suspects were busted for the shooting at a Brighton home — two seventeen-year-olds and one eighteen- year-old.
June 5, 2020
4900 block of Wheeling, Denver
Once again, the suspect arrested in this shooting was a juvenile.
June 26, 2020
698 Peoria Street, Aurora
Five people were shot at around 7:45 p.m. on June 26 outside a Save a Lot grocery store. No arrests have been reported.
July 11, 2020
5890 North Lamar Street, Arvada
Authorities said a dispute between rival motorcycle groups led to gunfire outside Jake's Roadhouse BBQ restaurant, leaving one person dead and three others wounded. No arrests have been reported.
July 25, 2020
East 32nd Avenue and Hudson Street, Denver
Leland Hines, 42, and Dowan Alexander, 39, were killed after gunfire erupted just prior to 10 p.m. on a Saturday night on the 3200 block of Hudson Street. A third man and two women were wounded but survived. No arrests have been reported.
July 26, 2020
6300 block of Ivanhoe Street, Commerce City
Violence struck a house party at 6345 Ivanhoe Street, killing seventeen-year-old Eric Pineda and injuring three others. No arrests have been reported.
August 1, 2020
3000 block of West Virginia Avenue, Denver
Diego Gonzales-Vigil, sixteen, was killed after shooting started at a bash in the Westwood neighborhood. Three males and a female were also hit but survived. No arrests have been reported.
August 9, 2020
1400 block of West Byers Place, Denver
A family gathering at a park near the intersection of West Byers Place and South Pecos Street was shattered when a shooter repeatedly pulled his trigger. Among the wounded was a three-year-old girl. No arrests have been reported.
August 16, 2020
West Alameda Avenue and South Federal Boulevard, Denver
Two men died in the gunfire, and four others required hospitalization. Afterward, Mayor Michael Hancock called a press conference in which he said, "Settling disputes with firearms is never okay in our city." No arrests have been reported.
August 23, 2020
2000 block of Longhorn Point, Pueblo
Two arrests were made after this shooting, accompanied by charges that included multiple counts of attempted second-degree murder, plus assault and illegal discharge of a firearm.
September 6, 2020
6700 block of Birch Street, Commerce City
Another party gone wrong. The four injuries were considered serious. No arrests have been reported.
February 3, 2021
200 block of Wild Hogg Drive, Oak Creek
Steven Padilla, 46, allegedly shot a man in Oak Creek, then drove several blocks away and began firing at a mobile home park before being killed by another person.
February 20, 2021
1000 block of Teller Avenue, Grand Junction
Shootings at a party led to the arrest of Israel Isaiah Maestas-Reza, eighteen, on suspicion of murder and multiple other allegations.
March 22, 2021
3600 Table Mesa Drive, Boulder
The shooting at the south Boulder King Soopers. A suspect has been arrested.