Yesterday, November 2, 47-year-old Scott Ostrem was arrested for allegedly killing three people at a Thornton Walmart the previous evening. In the hours since then, we've learned much more about Ostrem's victims, Victor Vasquez, Pam Marques and Carlos Moreno, and the man who apparently took their lives at random. Far from being a terrorist, Ostrem appears to be another angry, frustrated white man taking out his failings on innocent people.
Calls about the violence at the 9901 Grant Street store began flooding in just after 6 p.m. on November 1. Less than half an hour later, at 6:27 p.m., the Thornton police Twitter feed issued its initial alert on the topic. It reads: "Shooting just occurred at Walmart, 9900 Grant St, multiple parties down. Please stay away from the area."
A little over an hour later, the following string of four more tweets began:
7:35 p.m.: "#ThorntonWalmartShooting At this time this is NOT an active shooter. Active crime scene. We will update as info becomes available."
7:59 p.m.: "PIO on scene. Media should stage on E. 98th Ave, east of Grant St. (2) confirmed deceased adult males, (1) adult female transported."
9:06 p.m.: "UPDATE: Detectives currently reviewing security footage & witnesses being interviewed for assistance with suspect(s) desc/info."
10:08 p.m.: "UPDATE: There is currently NO one in custody. Unfortunately the female transported with injury has also passed away. (3) confirmed dead."
At 11:28 p.m. on the 1st, the TPD sent out surveillance images of a male suspect and the red Mitsubishi Mirage he was thought to be driving. Early the next morning, Ostrem was cited by name, and just after 8 a.m., he was taken into custody after being spotted by police driving past his apartment, at 7121 Samuel Drive. Hours later, the Thornton department issued the booking photo at the top of this post as well as a request for any video footage associated with the incident; the number to call if you captured such images is 720-977-5069.
Over the course of the day, more information trickled in about the people who died under the fusillade at the store. Here's the introduction to a GoFundMe page set up on behalf of Vasquez:
As many of you have heard, there was a shooting at the Thornton Walmart. One of the fallen was Victor Vasquez, a father of two beautiful little girls with another child on the way. We are starting a go fund me to help out his fiancé, Alexis, his mom Jovita, and his children. It will be used to help fund his services and any immediate needs that the family may encounter.
At this writing, more than $19,000 has been pledged toward a goal of $25,000. Comments left on the page include "Sending...strength to the entire family. I am a local resident who cares and I'm so sorry" and "Your family is in my prayers. My heart is breaking for you all."
Carlos Moreno worked for the Auraria Higher Education Center as a structural trades technician.
According to Moreno's Facebook page, he attended Clovis High School in New Mexico before relocating to Colorado. He was a grandfather, and the page's photo gallery is crowded with loving shots of relatives.
One note reads: "I am in shock. My dear loving uncle Carlos Moreno was one of the victims who lost his life last evening at the Thornton CO Walmart. Please keep his wife and kids in your prayers."
Last night a heartbreaking incident occurred. 3 families have been changed forever by this. Unfortunately my family was one of those. My dear cousin Brandy has lost her light, her best friend her mom. My aunt Pam was one of those hit by a bullet at the Walmart in Thornton. I’m hoping to reach the goal to help ease the financial burden on my cousin. Anything helps from a penny to a share. No one should have to deal with such a heart breaking thing such as this.
As of now, $500 has been pledged on the page toward a goal of $5,000.
Ostrem, for his part, has left behind him a slew of official documents associated with previous (and mostly minor) law enforcement interactions, as well as paperwork about his lack of success in business.
Regarding the former, Ostrem reportedly was busted for driving under the influence in Adams County circa April 1991; there's no record of a conviction. Just over eight years later, in December 1999, he admitted to resisting arrest in a plea deal that resulted in the dropping of other charges — assault on a peace officer, possession of dangerous weapons and disorderly conduct. His punishment: a year's probation.
Then, in 2013, Ostrem was accused of another DUI in Wheat Ridge. That beef was lowered to driving while ability impaired, but he was taken into custody again the following year for a failure to appear in court about the previous matter. This last offense earned him a one-year suspended jail sentence.
Prior to this period, Ostrem tried to set himself up as an entrepreneur. The Colorado Secretary of State's Office lists information about a business called Ostrem Installation LLC circa 2012. It was categorized as "delinquent" in November 2013.
A similar tone is set by Ostrem's personal bankruptcy filing, which is accessible below. The filings show that he made about $8,000 in 2013, $47,000 in 2014 and $23,000 through September 2015 — amounts offset by more than $58,000 in credit-card debt.
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A listing of personal property showed that his most expensive possession at the time of filing was a 1997 Buick Regal worth $1,550. The list of other assets and their value reads like so:
Cash on Hand: $40
TCF Bank — Checking: $100
TCF Bank — Savings: $0
Residential Rent Deposit: $250
Appliances: washer, dryer, refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, microwave: $50
Audio and video components (TV, DVD, digital camera, etc.): $150
Computer and computer peripherals (desktop, laptop, monitor, printer scanner): $40
Household furniture including: living room furniture, dining room/kitchen furniture and bedroom furniture: $500
Other appliances (coffee pot, toaster, etc.): $5
Compact discs, movies (DVD, VHS), records, tapes, video games: $50
Personal clothing, including shoes: $150
Fishing poles: $50
Somehow, though, Ostrem was able to afford guns, with neighbors recalling him toting a rifle bag back and forth between his car and his apartment. Authorities believe he used one deadly weapon in an incredibly senseless but all-too-common act. Last month, we catalogued at least 1,864 mass shootings between the Aurora theater tragedy to Stephen Paddock's slayings in Las Vegas. One of our sources defined mass shootings as the wounding or killing of at least three people, while another began the count with four people wounded or killed.
Click to access the Scott Ostrem bankruptcy document.