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First a pandemic, then a shooting: Union president calls King Soopers employees heroes

The president of UFCW Local 7 said employees at the Boulder King Soopers helped get customers to safety when a gunman starting shooting.

BOULDER, Colo. — When a gunman started shooting at a King Soopers in Boulder, grocery store employees helped get customers out of harm’s way, according to United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 7.

That’s why local union president, Kim Cordova, repeatedly used one word to describe the staff there: heroes.

“We know that when they heard gunshots, some of the workers grabbed coworkers, also led customers out to safety through various exits throughout the store, including the back dock and the back area of the store,” Cordova told 9NEWS. “They work during every manmade or natural disaster, and now, they again stepped up helped save customers and members of the community. They continue to be heroes.”

What happened Monday afternoon follows a year of demanding work for these employees because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That fact isn’t lost on Cordova.

“Unfortunately, these workers are going to be traumatized over this situation, but they really acted as heroes as they’ve been throughout this whole pandemic. They really care about their community and their customers, and each other. Now, they were faced with this tragedy,” she said.

The Boulder Police Department (BPD) said 10 people were killed in the shooting. Cordova is not yet aware if any of the victims are store employees. As of Monday night, investigators had identified just one victim, Officer Eric Talley, who was one of the first officers on the scene.

While the union represents about 30 store employees at this location, Cordova said they hope to help all of the staff as needed. In the coming days, Cordova said the union will work with King Soopers to get in-store counseling for the employees and figure out what other benefits or resources are appropriate.

RELATED: At least 10 killed, including officer, in shooting at Boulder King Soopers

RELATED: 'Didn't surprise me he was the first one there': What we know about fallen Boulder Officer Eric Talley

Earlier in the day, UFCW Local 7 issued this statement:

“Today our community experienced a senseless act of violence that caused an unnecessary loss of life in Boulder’s vibrant community. It is with deep sadness we mourn the victims and their families who have lost loved ones today, including the heroic Boulder police officer who died in the line of duty. We are forever grateful to the grocery workers, customers, and the first responders who acted swiftly to prevent even greater loss of life–protecting our members and all those in danger inside the store.

This senseless act of evil also highlights and shines a light on the best of human nature. There are news reports that after gunshots rang out, grocery workers helped customers in the store find safety, directing shoppers to an exit at the back of the store, and assisted one another to escape the danger inside.

No one should have to fear for their lives while they grocery shop or go to work every day. Unfortunately, our grocery members, frontline Essential Workers, have lived in fear each and every day during the pandemic. These workers have risked getting COVID-19 to make sure shelves were stocked and communities had access to food and other essential services. As COVID-19 cases increased, and colleagues fell ill and some died, they continued to go to work, even as they faced COVID-19 workplace hazards, as well as hostile customers including verbal and physical attacks by unstable members of the public.

For the last year our members and other associates have fought an invisible enemy, COVID-19, but today several innocent souls were killed by an evil human. We call on government officials and employers to do more to protect our members and communities from the constant threat of violence.”

In their own statement Monday, a King Soopers spokesperson said they will work with local law enforcement and the store will remain closed during the investigation:

"We are horrified and deeply saddened by the senseless violence that occurred at our King Soopers store located on Table Mesa Drive in Boulder, CO.

The entire King Soopers family offers our thoughts, prayers and support to our associates, customers, and the first responders who so bravely responded to this tragic situation.

We will continue to cooperate with local law enforcement and our store will remain closed during the police investigation.

To protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation, we are referring questions to the Boulder Police Department."

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