Colorado is known for its gorgeous mountain views, but its history of violence is as ugly as that of any other place in the United States: the Sand Creek Massacre, the Denver Anti-Chinese Riot, the Ludlow Massacre.
In more recent times, Colorado has been disproportionately plagued by the gun violence epidemic. Here is a look at its history of mass shootings.
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Check E. Cheese: 1993
Four employees at a Chuck E. Cheese in Aurora were killed and another injured when a gunman shot them on Dec. 14, 1993, to “get even” for being fired months earlier. Three of the victims in the rampage were teenagers. The shooter, who had a long criminal history, was sentenced to death, which was later commuted to life in prison without parole when Colorado abolished the death penalty.
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Columbine High: 1999
Two students attempted to blow up their high school in Littleton. When their homemade bombs failed, they entered the school on April 20, 1999, with guns and began shooting. They killed 12 students and a teacher and injured more than 20 others before taking their own lives. Although school shootings had been happening throughout the 1990s, the Columbine High School shooting was a turning point; afterward, schools nationwide began organizing safety protocols to respond to shootings.
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Bookcliff RV Park: 2001
A 42-year-old gunman opened fire on an RV park and grocery store frequented by Mexican immigrants in Rifle on July 3, 2001. He killed four people and injured three before surrendering to police. He was later found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed to a state mental hospital to be treated for schizophrenia. But by 2012, he was being regularly released for camping trips and other excursions, according to The Denver Post.
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Mission and church: 2007
A 26-year-old gunman killed four people and injured five others in two separate incidents on Dec. 9, 2007. He first opened fire at Youth with a Mission, a Christian missionary training center in Arvada, from which he had been fired years earlier. About 12 hours later, he opened fire at New Life Church, a Colorado Springs megachurch, killing two teenage sisters, before being shot by a volunteer security guard. He then took his own life.
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Aurora theater: 2021
A 25-year-old shooter opened fire on a packed movie theater screening “The Dark Knight Rises,” killing 12 and injuring 58 people on July 20, 2012. Twelve others were injured in the ensuing chaos. The gunman surrendered to police and was convicted and sentenced to more than 3,000 years in prison. At the time, the Aurora theater shooting had the largest number of casualties of any mass shooting; it has now been surpassed by the 2016 Orlando, Fla., nightclub shooting and the 2017 Las Vegas shooting at a country music festival.
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Planned Parenthood: 2015
A man with a history of mental illness allegedly targeted a women’s health clinic where abortions were performed. Three people, including a police officer, were killed, and nine others were injured Nov. 27, 2015. The suspect was found incompetent to stand trial and has been committed ever since. It was the second burst of deadly gun violence in Colorado Springs in less than a month. The other incident, during which three people were shot and killed at random, is generally not included in mass shooting databases because of the number of casualties.
In 2017, two students were shot at Deer Creek Middle School before a teacher wrestled the gunman to the ground. That same year at a Thornton Walmart, a gunman randomly shot and killed three people.
Although methodologies vary, most mass-shooting trackers do not include domestic violence incidents or incidents in which fewer than four victims are shot.
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King Soopers: 2021
On Monday afternoon, a gunman began shooting outside a Boulder King Soopers grocery store, before entering the store and continuing his attack. He killed 10, including a police officer. A 21-year-old suspect is in custody.
A 2019 analysis by The Denver Post found that Colorado had more mass shootings per capita than all but four states, and that the Denver metropolitan area has had more school shootings per capita since 1999 than any of the nation’s 24 other largest metropolitan areas.
Frank DeAngelis, who was the principal of Columbine High School during the 1999 shooting, told The Denver Post on Tuesday the latest incident was a different event, “but the feelings are the same. We’ve seen this happen in Colorado way too many ways.”
DeAngelis is on the board of the Colorado Healing Fund, a nonprofit that facilitates donations to victims, families and support communities of mass casualties in Colorado. The fund is now collecting donations for the latest shooting.
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