Accused Walmart killer faces charges

Posted 11/6/17

Scott Ostrem, the man Thornton Police say shot up Thornton’s Town Center Walmart Nov. 1, faces two counts of murder each for the three people killed as well as 30 counts of attempted murder for people in the store at the time of the …

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Accused Walmart killer faces charges

Posted

Scott Ostrem, the man Thornton Police say shot up Thornton’s Town Center Walmart Nov. 1, faces two counts of murder each for the three people killed as well as 30 counts of attempted murder for people in the store at the time of the shooting.

District Court Judge Ted C. Tow read the charges filed by the Adams County District Attorney’s office Monday afternoon – six counts of murder and 30 counts of attempted murder plus a charge of violent crimes. Overall, Ostrem faces the death penalty in the Nov. 1 shooting.

Ostrem is accused of walking into the 9900 Grant St. Walmart just after 6 p.m. Nov. 1, calmly taking a handgun out of his pocket and opening fire. Three people were killed in the shooting; 66-year-old Carlos Moreno, of Thornton, 26-year-old Victor Vasquez of Denver and Pamela Marques, 52, of Denver.

Then, according to police, Ostrem walked back out of the store, got into his car and drove away.

Tow said Ostrem faces two different kinds murder charges for each victim – a charge of murder after deliberation and a charge of murder with extreme indifference. Each carries an ultimate penalty of death.

He also faces 30 charges of attempted murder with extreme indifference, a class 2 felony. Each count carries a mandatory sentence of up to 22 years. The final count calls for a mandatory sentence for violent crimes that could boost the attempted murder sentences up to 48 years each.

District Attorney Dave Young also filed a motion to keep the names of those 30 potential victims sealed.

Judge Tow set a preliminary hearing for 9 a.m. Feb. 5.

‘Mass chaos’

Victor Avila, the public information officer for the Thornton Police, described the scene as mass chaos when the responded three minutes later. Avila said hundreds of people were running everywhere when police arrived at the scene of the shooting, that made it a complicated scene to control.

“When (you) are talking about people running in all directions, you don’t know who is good and who is bad,” Avila said. “It would be very easy for someone to bed down and become a victim while they were truly an assailant. So we had to search the whole area, and that included the parking lot.”

Detectives located a Walmart employee and began reviewing surveillance footage right away, but that work was complicated by the number of people in the store at the time.

“It was mass chaos in there,” Avila said. “If the surveillance ever becomes available, you’ll see that there were people running everywhere. That’s truly what took the longest amount of time - being able to decipher exactly what we had.”

Avila said there were armed citizens on the scene as well, which further slowed their work.

“In the surveillance, we saw people holding something that appeared to be a gun,” Avila said. “So, we had to follow that person all through the store.”

Police had to watch the tapes and track those people to make sure they were not involved in the shooting.

Using the surveillance footage, police were able to identify Ostrem at about 10:30 p.m. and his car, a red 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage, as well as his address. They published his name, photo and description via social media at about 11 p.m. and obtained a search warrant for his 7121 Samuel Drive address. Police searched Ostrem’s residence, but he was not there.

He did drive by, however, while police and media camped nearby watched, and police followed him to the intersection of 72nd Avenue and Federal Boulevard in Westminster.

“The officers were right on his tail as they saw him coming by,” police department spokesperson Victor Avila said. “Fortunately, we had a traffic light that was there, and traffic was backed up because obviously, we were in the middle of traffic-time. So he did not have the opportunity to be able to leave if that was what he chose.”

Police took Ostrem into custody at about 8 a.m. Nov. 2.

Victims

Police said the two men Ostrem is accused of killing, Moreno and Vasquez, died at the scene.

Moreno was a father and grandfather from Clovis, New Mexico who called Thornton home.

Vasquez was the father of two young girls who was expecting a third child with his fiancee.

Police said Marques was taken to the hospital but later died. Marques was a mother and grandmother who grew up in the Denver-area and attended Adams City High School. Facebook lists her employer as Tharco, a Denver maker of packing goods.

Families and friends of all three victims have created Go Fund Me fundraisers on the web

Neither police or prosecutors have discussed a motive or if the suspect acted alone.

“No motive has been established, but we did just get our suspect,” said Matt Barnes, department spokesman said on Nov 3. “So, we are hoping that something further will come out soon.”

Patience

Mayor Heidi Williams said she was on the scene until about midnight Wednesday. She applauded officers and Walmart employees for keeping control of the scene.

“I know it was frustrating because it took a long time, but the officers did their job,” she said. “There were steps to follow and they didn’t want to jump the gun. They wanted to catch him, and they did. So, overall, the best thing we can do is to stay out of the way.”

The Walmart store was closed on Nov. 2, according to a member of the management team who declined to identify himself, but employees were gathering in the front of the store at about 9:30 a.m. for a staff meeting.

At 1 p.m. Nov. 2, police announced that they were releasing personal items that store patrons had left behind in the chaos. Patrons were urged to come to the store to collect their belongings.

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