Two men and a woman were killed in a shooting inside a suburban Denver Walmart on Wednesday night, forcing customers to either hide in the store or frantically run for the doors.
Thornton police tweeted Wednesday night that they were responding to a shooting with "multiple parties down." They advised people to stay away from the area as dozens of police cruisers and emergency vehicles raced to the scene.
In a Twitter post about 90 minutes after the shooting, police said investigators had confirmed that two men were dead and a woman was taken to a local hospital, but no further details were given. A while later, officials confirmed that the woman succumbed to her injuries and passed away.
The situation appeared potentially ominous from authorities’ initial reports.
About an hour after the initial alert, police said on Twitter that the threat of gunfire had ended at the store, which was surrounded by police and fire crews. The police is still looking for suspects and tweeted no one has been taken into custody so far.
“At this time this is NOT an active shooter. Active crime scene. We will update as info becomes available,” the police department said in that tweet. Confirmation of the two fatalities came about 20 minutes later.
— Thornton Police Dept (@ThorntonPolice) November 2, 2017
Aaron Stephens, 44, was in the self-checkout line when he heard a single shot followed by more bursts of gunfire, The Denver Post reported. He said customers started screaming and running for the exits.
"I was scared. I feared for my life," said Stephens, who has lived in Thornton for 20 years. He did not see where the shooting had come from and did not see anyone struck by bullets.
Meanwhile, Brandon Bonney said he received a call from his brother, who was inside the store.
Bonney told his brother to silence his phone, stay calm and "just get somewhere and hide," The Post reported.
Local NBC television affiliate 9NEWS reported that a woman whose son was in the Walmart had told her that he had heard about 30 gunshots and was still inside.
A video posted on Twitter showed the Walmart, which is situated in a large complex of big-box stores and other retail outlets adjacent to US Interstate 25, apparently empty except for police officers with guns drawn.
Investigators have not released any details about the circumstances of the shooting or the condition of the injured woman.
Officer Victor Avila of the Thornton Police Department told Reuters said police were called to the store at about 6.30 pm mountain time (8.30 pm ET) and that the gunshots had ceased by the time the first officers arrived at the scene.
Special agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were headed to the scene to help police.
The Walmart about 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of Denver is in a busy shopping center that includes restaurants, a movie theater and several other shops.
No other information was released.
With inputs from AP and Reuters
Updated Date: Nov 02, 2017 10:15 AM