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Denver Archbishop Calls for ‘Conversion of Hearts’ After Boulder Shooting

People leave flowers at King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colo., March 23, 2021, the site of a mass shooting that killed 10 people the previous day. (Photo: CNS/Kevin Mohatt, Reuters)

WINDSOR TERRACE Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver, Colorado, said “senseless acts of violence” have become far too common in the country and his state.

“We must work to promote deeper conversion of hearts,” the archbishop said in a statement one day after a mass shooting in northern Colorado on March 22, “so that our lives are characterized by the virtue of charity, which allows us to love God and our neighbor, strengthening the fabric of society and preventing senseless acts of violence such as this one.”

On Monday, a gunman opened fire at a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Co., killing ten people, including Eric Talley, an 11-year veteran of the Boulder Police Department. Archbishop Aquila said Talley was a man of character, strong faith, a loving father, and a “soldier for Christ.”

[Related: Boulder, Colorado, Police Officer First to Die in Mass Shooting Called Hero]

“We also know that Officer Talley regularly stopped by St. Martin de Porres in Boulder and participated in its events, even though he wasn’t a parishioner there,” the archbishop said. “For those unfamiliar with the area where the shooting occurred, St. Martin de Porres is just across the street from King Soopers.”

Talley, 51, was among the first to respond to the shooting. He leaves behind a wife and seven children. Law enforcement officials identified the nine others who died as Denny Stong, 20; Neven Stanisic, 23; Rikki Olds, 25; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Teri Leiker, 51; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; and Jody Waters, 65. Some of the victims were customers, and others were store employees.

Police arrested 21-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa of Arvada, Colorado. He was treated at a local hospital for an injury he sustained but has since been booked into the Boulder County Jail. He was charged with ten counts of first-degree murder and will make his first court appearance on March 25, prosecutors said. The Boulder shooting comes less than a week after a gunman in Atlanta killed eight people — including six Asian women — during a series of shootings at three massage parlors in the Atlanta area on March 16.

“I have been praying for all those impacted by this senseless act of violence and want to express my spiritual closeness to them,” Archbishop Aquila said. “My prayers and those of the faithful of the Archdiocese of Denver are with the Talley family and all who have died.”