The Colorado shooting had nothing to do with Colorado

It happened, you remember. On the evening of October 16, 2016, 33 people were killed. In a span of four minutes, it happened:

A gunman opened fire, murdering his coworkers in a Colorado coffee shop.

Nearly 6 million people tuned in to watch the coverage on TV.

The New York Times and CNN have posted minute-by-minute stories on their websites.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) joined the chorus of politicians demanding more than a few vague bullet points about the suspect, and a plan to prevent another massacre.

Was the shooting at a modern, spread-out, gun-free workplace — like a Walmart, Target or a manufacturing plant — your family member? Perhaps your son, daughter, son-in-law, husband, wife, brother, sister or cousin?

If you lost someone to the Colorado shooting, you are not alone. Nationally, there are nearly 700,000 people killed each year by guns. A quarter of these victims are teenagers. An unprecedented number of gun-related deaths — 34,600 — are children under the age of 20. Over 43,000 of these children, victims of gun violence, are African-American.

Is yours the name you heard on CNN or Fox News? If so, feel free to send us the name(s) of anyone who died as a result of the Colorado shooting, along with a brief email. And in the same email, provide us with your full name, city, state, ZIP code and email address, and then include a message of condolence and support. You will be asked to fill out the form.

Thanks to the efforts of the Colorado Media Center, we are pleased to ask Colorado journalists for help. Please contact us: 312-521-7469, 216-578-8750 or [email protected]

In the first phase of the investigation, there was not a great deal to be learned. The place where the massacre occurred had no water-cooler atmosphere, nor were there many immediate warning signs. There were no interviews of the suspected shooter’s parents. There were no personal emails. There was no apparently suppressed suicide note to police or victims.

As is to be expected, subsequent information has lead us to suspect a single person might be responsible for this disaster. Maybe he or she was a troubled teen who was kept from social activities by family and religious friends? Maybe the man was an unrepentant gang member? Maybe he had business dealings with the company’s executives?

After many months of investigation, on May 5, 2017, the FBI issued a criminal affidavit naming Colorado resident Robert Lewis Dear as the primary suspect and saying he was also suspected of murder in other incidents.

Though police did not immediately confirm the exact number of people killed in the coffee shop and outdoor areas of the Gateway Mall, they did say that “more than 20” had died, including a child. Thirty-six people had been injured, and six were still in the hospital as of the morning of May 10, 2017. Nine of them were in critical condition.

An FBI affidavit was not filed with the courts when the shooting occurred, but it is understood to include claims such as: “An employee of the restaurant contacted an off-duty Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy who was on the scene, for help with an armed, suicidal subject.”

More than a year later, the stage has been set for some sort of trial in the Colorado shooting case. In February, Dear was officially charged with “53 felony counts,” including murder, arson, robbery, assaulting a police officer and making threats against officers.

If any of these facts are relevant to your family, you want to tell us all about it. An FBI affidavit, produced after a year-long investigation, does not mean that Dear was responsible for the entire shooting.

You can share your story, privately and publicly, in honor of the victims of the Colorado tragedy.

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