A barista at the King Soopers store in Boulder, Colorado, says he hid his co-worker behind some trash cans to keep her safe from a gunman who killed 10 people in Monday’s mass shooting.
Logan Ezra Smith, 20, was working at the store’s Starbucks kiosk when a customer said there was an active shooting in the parking lot.
The store employee went outside to check and saw a customer get shot and fall to the ground. He also saw a coworker get shot during the incident.
Smith said he went back inside, called 911 from a store phone and scrambled to hide his coworker – a 69-year-old woman – under a counter and then put trash cans in front of the opening to conceal her.
“Maybe it’s who I am, but as a grocery store employee, customers come first for me. It’s customers and my coworkers. I was willing to sacrifice myself and death was something I accepted already,” Smith said. “My belief is she’s older than me, she’s my elder, so I must protect her.”
Smith said he helped customers escape out the west entrance and then hid behind another trash can in the Starbucks kiosk.
“I’m a pretty big guy, I’m like 6’4’, so hiding for me is impossible kind of,” Smith said. “So if the gunman ever came to my kiosk and saw me, I would be in a life-threatening situation.”
Smith said the gunman walked within 10-15 feet of their hiding place several times in the two minutes he was in their area.
“One of the scariest parts about it all was the silence throughout the store, because I did not hear him say one word,” Smith said. “Basically, it was silence from the very beginning. All you could hear were gunshots, and then the store music and automated messages.”
Police could be seen leading Smith and a woman in a Starbucks apron away from the store after the shooting and she appeared to be touching his back for support.
He said he and his coworker didn’t get to talk until they were taken to the police station.
“As soon as we were freed up at the station, we kind of hugged each other and calmed each other down and just chatted,” Smith said.
Monday’s victims were: Boulder police Officer Eric Talley, 51; store manager Rikki Olds, 25; store employee Denny Stong, 20; store employee Teri Leiker, 51; Neven Stanisic, 23; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; Jody Waters, 65.
Kroger, which owns King Soopers, said in a statement Tuesday it was “horrified and heartbroken over the senseless violence.”
“In the hours since the shooting, we’re learning of truly heroic acts that included associates, customers, and first responders helplessly acting to protect and save others. We will remain forever grateful to the first responders who so bravely to protect our associates and customers,” the company said.
The United Food and Commercial Workers, the union representing Colorado grocery workers at the store, also praised them for their bravery.
“We are deeply thankful to the grocery workers, customers, and first responders whose courageous actions helped to prevent even more lives from being lost,” the union said in a statement.
Smith said he and Stong had known other for a couple of years, but became really close friends in the year that Smith has worked at the store.
“We’re separated in age by a month and a half, so I would say he’s my younger brother,” Smith said. “We poked fun at each other, we hung out almost every single day.”
He said they are both gun owners and Second Amendment advocates and would often go shooting in the mountains on weekends.
Smith said Stong had come into the store to get some groceries and was buying a coffee from him when the shooting started. He ran off and Smith said that was the last time he saw him.
“I was oddly surprised to see him and I’m just glad I got to see him on his last day,” he said.