The mass shooting at a Boulder King Soopers in March was immediately the biggest story in the country, even before we knew that ten people had been killed. In contrast, the May 10 attack at a Colorado Springs birthday party that left six related victims dead made a comparatively minor ripple nationwide. Indeed, coverage didn't pick up in the U.S. and overseas until after reports surfaced that the gunman, 28-year-old Teodoro Macias, who subsequently took his own life, was allegedly motivated by anger over not being invited — and it still paled in comparison to the attention paid to the Boulder tragedy.
The differing casualty counts were undoubtedly a factor in this disparity, but so, in all likelihood, were the circumstances of the crimes and the race of the victims, who were identified by Colorado Springs authorities on May 11 as Melvin Perez, 30; Mayra Ibarra de Perez, 33; Joana Cruz, 52; Jose Gutierrez, 21; Sandra Ibarra-Perez, 28; and Jose Ibarra, 26.
The March 22 attack at the Boulder King Soopers was actually the sixteenth mass shooting in Colorado over the previous eighteen months, according to the standard established by the Gun Violence Archive: any incident in which at least four people are killed or injured. Moreover, around half of those incidents took place at family gatherings, parties or similar get-togethers. The frequency with which celebrations are shattered by gunfire is the unfortunate explanation for why so many of these events receive relatively cursory media coverage.
And then there's the matter of race.
In our September 9, 2020, post "Guns Killed Four Times More People of Color Than Whites in Colorado," we examined state-specific data from the National Gun Violence Memorial. The statistics revealed that during the first eight months of 2020, during which ninety people were killed by firearms in Colorado, around three-quarters of the victims were people of color.
This percentage was far from what would have been expected, just going by Colorado's demographics. As of July 2019, the U.S. Census Bureau put the category described as "White alone, not Hispanic or Latino," at 67.7 percent of the state population, with "Hispanic or Latino" representing 21.8 percent and "Black or African American alone" coming in at 4.6 percent.
Not all of these deaths were ruled homicides; the memorial also includes individuals who took their own lives. But most of the murders didn't make major headlines, including those involving people of color.
These figures weren't anomalies, as demonstrated by our March 4 piece "Recalling 33 Colorado Gun Violence Victims From Bloody Start of 2021." The overwhelming majority of victims were people of color, and most of their deaths received only cursory attention even in Colorado.
This past weekend's shooting in Colorado Springs might have only made local news if there had been two or three victims as opposed to six, and had the rationale for the horrific act seemed unclear rather than jaw-slackening. In contrast, the people killed in Boulder were white, they died in an unusual place for a mass shooting — a grocery store rather than a trailer park — and they didn't know the shooter. That's the dispiriting media calculus related to coverage of firearms deaths.
An online fundraiser has been established to benefit family members of the Springs shooting victims. Click for more details.
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