COLORADO SPRINGS — A man walked into a birthday party in Colorado Springs early Sunday and opened fire, killing six people before ending his own life, police said, in what is now one of Colorado’s deadliest mass shootings.
Freddy Marquez, who attended the party with his wife and children, but left before the shooting, said all of the victims were members of the same extended family, which had gathered to celebrate the birthdays of Marquez’s wife and her brother.
The shooting happened just after midnight at the Canterbury Mobile Home Park in the 2800 block of Preakness Way, Colorado Springs police Lt. James Sokolik said in a news release.
Investigators believe the shooter, who has not been publicly identified, was the boyfriend of a woman at the party.
“He drove to the residence, walked inside and began shooting people at the party before taking his own life,” Sokolik said in the news release.
None of the children at the party were hurt and they are now in the care of relatives, police said.
Marquez said he and his wife and four of their children stayed at the party until about 10 p.m. Saturday, then left because his wife had to work early Sunday morning.
The party was calm, a relaxed gathering of extended family, he said. The group shared two piñata-shaped cakes and watched a boxing match.
“It was all family, so everything was fine,” he said
Marquez and his wife went to bed without knowing anything was wrong, until his wife woke around 4 a.m. to get ready for work and saw all her missed calls.
“It’s just crazy, it’s not what we expected on Mother’s Day,” Marquez said. “I’m at a loss for words.”
Marquez said his wife lost her mother and two brothers in the shooting, as well as three other members of her extended family. The whole family was very close and often got together to celebrate special occasions, he said.
“They were loving people,” Marquez said. “Caring, happy. They’d give you the shirt off their back.”
Marquez said he did not know the suspected shooter very well, and noted that he had not been at the party earlier in the evening.
Police responded to the shooting at 12:18 a.m. and arrived to find six bodies. Another man was alive but mortally injured. He died at a hospital.
Neighbor Yenifer Reyes said she woke to the sound of many gunshots.
“I thought it was a thunderstorm,” she said. “Then I started hearing sirens.”
Marvin Romero also lives nearby. He was asleep when the shooting started and woke up to bangs that he thought might be a hammer on concrete.
“I heard, ‘Boom, boom, boom,’” he said Sunday afternoon.
Reyes said she watched police bring children out of the trailer and put them into at least one patrol car.
“They were crying hysterically,” she said.
The identities of the victims and the suspected shooter will be released by the El Paso County coroner following the notification of next of kin, police said.
Colorado’s latest mass shooting comes just seven weeks after a gunman killed 10 people — including employees, shoppers and a police officer — at a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder.
Colorado Springs police Chief Vince Niski said in a statement that the department was “incredibly shaken” by Sunday’s killings.
“This is something you hope never happens in your own community, in the place that you call home,” he said. “When these types of unspeakable acts happen, there is nothing that can be done to fully rebuild what was lost or replace those who are no longer with us.”
Gov. Jared Polis released a statement offering his prayers and condolences to the victims, their families and anyone impacted by the killings.
“The tragic shooting in Colorado Springs is devastating, especially as many of us are spending the day celebrating the women in our lives who have made us the people we are today,” he said. “Multiple lives were taken today by this terrible act of violence. Families torn apart, and at a birthday party no less.”
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