A leader at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory paid tribute to Boulder, Colorado Tuesday (March 23) in the hours after 10 people were killed in a mass shooting in the city.
A suspect has been charged with 10 counts of murder following the shooting, which took place at a supermarket and was done using an AR-15 assault rifle, according to law enforcement officials quoted in a report from the New York Times.
The victims of the incident have so far been identified as Eric Talley, 51 (who worked for the Boulder Police Department and responded to calls about the shooting); 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.
Bobby Braun, JPL's director of planetary science, made comments about the events that took place in Boulder during a televised media briefing discussing the plan to put the agency's Mars helicopter Ingenuity in the air in the coming weeks.
"I just wanted to say a little bit about my former community in Boulder," Braun said during a live news conference on NASA TV Tuesday. Prior to joining JPL a year ago, he served as the dean of engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder.
"You know from all of us here that our hearts go out to the community today," Braun added. "Boulder is a special place for many reasons, one of which is the connection to aerospace and space exploration."
Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman are among the space companies with offices in Boulder who have worked with NASA; the community is also a hub of technology services for the space community.
"So to my former students, the faculty and staff that I worked with every day," Braun continued, "and the whole Boulder community, I just want to say that we stand with you, and know that you'll get through this."
U.S. President Joe Biden has asked that U.S. flags be flown at half-staff to honor the victims. This is the second mass shooting in the United States in just a week, following the murder of eight people on March 16 at three spas in the Atlanta, Georgia area. Six of the eight victims in Atlanta were of Asian descent, which has sparked discussions worldwide concerning anti-Asian violence, especially in the wake of rising violence against Asian communities this past year, experts have said.
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Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace