BOULDER, Colo. — One year after the shooting at King Soopers on Table Mesa in Boulder survivors are still healing and sharing their stories.
Maggie Montoya is one of them. The 26-year-old worked as a pharmacy technician for nearly three years until a gunman altered her life and the life of many others.
For the past year, she’s continued to strengthen herself as a professional runner even competing in the NYC Half Marathon Sunday where she placed 21st.
Her journey forward since March 22, 2021, is much like running, one foot in front of the other. A day she remembers so vividly.
"It was a nice morning, I remember feeling like it was when I did my run that morning,” she said.
It was the morning after she placed 7th in the Gate River Run in Jacksonville, Florida. She returned home full of excitement.
That excitement faded once she went in for her 10:30 shift that morning.
"I had been working the front windows for the first couple of hours of my shift. And had just moved over to the vaccine window,” she said.
The pharmacy was in the height of administering COVID shots.
"I remember the last couple of people I checked in I remember it was this parent and their child that were there. He was able to get his vaccine,” she said.
Montoya’s store manager, who was also in line, alerted her and others of an active shooter.
"Then after a couple of shots I heard her and then I yelled it out running back and letting my coworkers know," she said. "And me and my boss in the pharmacy went to one room and the rest of the people in the pharmacy went to the back.”
At that point she said she went from disbelief to shock after realizing this was real.
“My boss was like near the door with a chair. Like [a] mom of three, ready to take on what was going to happen at any moment,” Montoya said.
The two barricaded themselves behind metal doors while trying to disconnect phones that rang off the hook at the pharmacy. Unsure if they should answer or disconnect as the shooter stood feet away.
"The biggest thing that felt like for sure was going to do us in was the calls that kept coming in,” she said.
While in the midst of dialing 911, Montoya knew there was another important call to make. The final, I love you to her parents in Arkansas, not knowing if she'd ever say those words again.
"I think that's been the hardest thing to reflect back on in the past year. Making that call to my parents and imagining the fear of what they had to have been feeling,” she said.
What felt like an eternity lasted for nearly an hour as fear continued to build not knowing the outcome.
"And just the constant fear that it's going to end at any moment especially when he we heard him outside the pharmacy. We thought that was like for sure what was the end of it,” she said.
The gunman surrendered outside the pharmacy. When Montoya was finally allowed to leave, police escorted her and some co-workers out the front. They didn't know what they would see, some of which was captured by photographers on the scene.
"When I look back at it there's the one of Carrie giving me a hug that's because we had just walked out and saw my coworker Rikki dead. And being overwhelmed with the fact that we see someone dead but it was someone that we knew and someone that we talked to on a daily basis,” Montoya said.
Montoya's parents saw the photos of her outside the store. It was the first time they knew she had survived.
A year later, Montoya is still processing the tragedy while running to get back to normal.
"I came back to running and trying to race competitively after the shooting,” she said.
She had the mark for the Olympic Trials. It was something she looked forward to after the shooting, but a fracture derailed her.
Montoya said she’s still reeling and coping, but has hope.
“I just hope that there is a level of change that we see. That these incidences don't keep happening. I know that they will. But I just hope, I really hope that it gets better,” she said.
Montoya is still taking baby steps through her recovery while promising the 10 lives will never be forgotten.
"I don't want to it to just be another shooting in the public's eye. I want it to be something that no one wants to happen again in this community,” Montoya said.
Months after the shooting Montoya returned to a different King Soopers in Boulder as a pharmacy tech. She told 9NEWS she wanted to go back to doing something medical related as she hopes to apply to medical school. She also shares her story in hopes it will prevent this horrible tragedy from happening again.
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