Boulder, Colo., store where 10 were fatally shot is reopening to mixed emotions

A sign outside a supermarket reads "Table Mesa King Soopers."
A new sign sits outside the grocery store in Boulder, Colo., where 10 people were shot to death in March 2021.
(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

Hours before a gunman opened fire at the store, Teri Leiker called her mother to say how excited she was to return from vacation to her job as a front-end bagger at a bustling Colorado supermarket where she loved her customers and her colleagues.

She never came back home.

About 30 minutes before she was set to finish her shift on March 22, 2021, Leiker was shot and killed along with nine other people inside and outside the store. Nearly a year later, the redesigned King Soopers in the college town of Boulder is set to reopen Wednesday, a move that is triggering mixed emotions for families of the victims.

For Leiker’s mother, Margie Whittington, the reopening of the store, which will bear the name of the neighborhood emblazoned on the front, is a way of showing that evil does not triumph.


“When they see ‘Table Mesa,’ they’ll know that this store did not get torn down and the shooter didn’t prevail,” said Whittington.

Leiker, who lived independently despite having cognitive disabilities, worked at the store for 32 years. Whittington said her daughter’s former co-workers and customers have reached out to comfort her.

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March 31, 2021

But the uncle of Rikki Olds, a front-end manager who was also killed at the store, thinks it may have been better to tear the store down, getting rid of the place where so much tragedy happened.

“What happened is still there,” Robert Olds said of the shooting.

Olds hopes the newly designed store has better security than existed at the time of the shooting, including some of the measures he sees in place in his own job as a school security supervisor.

He would like to see supermarkets install panic buttons that alert police to a shooting and automatically lock store doors, such as schools have, and he also wants stores to monitor their security cameras for signs of trouble, including outside. Authorities say the gunman at King Soopers opened fire in the parking lot before going inside.

A 21-year-old man is in custody on suspicion of fatally shooting 10 people at a Boulder, Colo., grocery store.

March 23, 2021

Olds wasn’t impressed after touring the new store this week, saying: “It was the same place it was.”


Jessica Trowbridge, a spokesperson for King Soopers, said a survey conducted by the company found that the store’s workers and customers overwhelmingly wanted the store to reopen and the company instituted changes that they asked for, including a lighter, brighter appearance created by a raised ceiling and a nearly all-glass entryway with views of the nearby Flatirons, Boulder’s iconic rock formations.

This is their community, and they wanted to return to their community and their store,” said Trowbridge, adding that about half of the employees who worked at the store at the time of the shooting are returning to their jobs.

She declined to discuss whether there had been changes to security in the store. When media were allowed inside to look at the store Tuesday, security guards were armed, but Trowbridge said she could not talk about whether that would continue to be the case.

A memorial with 10 trees representing those killed is planned outside the store, she said.

The court case against the alleged gunman, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 22, has been on hold since December, when a judge ruled that he was mentally incompetent to stand trial and ordered him to be treated at the state mental hospital to see if he can be made well enough to go to trial.

Whittington, Leiker’s mother, credited Kroger, the company that owns King Soopers, with being sympathetic to the feelings of its longtime customers in making changes to the store.

“The inside won’t look a thing like it did before,” she said.