Gun violence in the US

Suspect arrested after gunman ‘nonchalantly’ opens fire in Colorado Walmart

Suspect Scott Ostrem is accused of entering a Walmart in suburban Denver and opening fire at random

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 November, 2017, 10:08am
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 November, 2017, 10:46pm

Police in Colorado on Thursday have arrested a man who calmly walked into a Walmart in suburban Denver and opened fire with a handgun, randomly shooting at shoppers and staff, killing three people before fleeing.

The suspect, identified as 47-year-old Scott Ostrem, is accused of “nonchalantly” entering a Walmart in Thornton, Colorado, and opening fire a little after 6pm local time on Wednesday and then walking out. He then got into a red four-door hatchback and drove away, Thornton Police Department spokesman Victor Aliva told reporters, citing witness accounts.

“What we have determined is that it is random as of right now,” Aliva said. “As witnesses stated, the person came in and just shot towards a group.”

Two men died at the scene of the shooting. A wounded woman was taken to a hospital where she died, he said.

Authorities did not immediately release any other information about the victims.

Earlier, police described the gunman as a white man, who was wearing a black jacket, maroon shirt and blue jeans, Aliva said.

There was no indication that the shooting was an act of terrorism as no one has claimed responsibility, he said.

“This is a very heinous act,” Avila said. “We don’t know exactly what the motive of the person was, but it was certainly a terrible act … We can’t rule anything out.”

Thornton is city of about 120,000 people roughly 16km northeast of Denver city centre.

Walmart customer Aaron Stephens said he was inside paying for groceries at a self-checkout stand when he heard gunshots and the sound of ricocheting bullets.

“The employees started screaming and the customers started screaming” as people began to flee the shop, he said. “I ran out, too, because I didn’t want to get shot.”

Stephens said he did not see where the shooting was coming from and did not see anyone hit by bullets.

Guadalupe Perez was inside the store with her young son when she heard what she thought was a balloon popping. A Walmart employee told her someone was shooting, and then Perez saw people running away yelling, “Let’s go. Let’s go. Leave the groceries.”

“You see all these things in the news and you go through it, it’s scary,” she said. “But thank God we’re OK and nothing happened to us.”

Avila said police don’t yet know how many rounds were fired.

A video posted on Twitter showed the Walmart, which is in a large shopping complex near US Interstate 25, apparently empty except for police officers with their guns drawn.

Additional reporting by Associated Press