210323 Boulder
Women hug on the corner of Broadway and Table Mesa Drive near a King Soopers grocery store where a shooting took place, Monday, March 22, 2021, in Boulder, Colorado. Image Credit: AP

Colorado: Ten people were killed, including a police officer, in a shooting on Monday at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado, and a suspect injured in the incident was arrested, said the Boulder police chief.

Police said they had few immediate details of the shooting and no known motive for the violence, which unfolded at about 3pm at a King Soopers grocery store in the Table Mesa area of Boulder, a city at the eastern foot of the Rockies about 45km northwest of Denver.

Commander Kerry Yamaguchi of the Boulder Police Department told reporters that investigators were just starting to process the crime scene.

“We had multiple people who were killed in this incident, and Im sorry to have to report that one of them was a Boulder police officer,” Yamaguchi said.

Yamaguchi said the person taken into custody was believed to be the only individual with injuries who survived the bloodshed.

He gave no details about the suspect.

But video footage from the scene broadcast earlier by local television stations showed a shirtless, bearded man in boxer shorts being led away from the store in handcuffs, before he was placed on a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance. The man in custody appeared to have a bloody leg and was limping as he walked.

Yamaguchi also said that a second incident reported by police at an apartment building 5km away as being possibly connected to the supermarket shooting turned out to be unrelated.

Among the dead

Among those dead was "heroic" police officer Eric Talley, 51, who was the first to respond to the scene at a King Soopers supermarket, said police chief Maris Herold.

"We know of 10 fatalities at the scene, including one of our Boulder PD officers... Officer Tally responded to the scene - was first on the scene - and he was fatally shot," said Herold.

The suspect in custody was the only person suffering "serious injuries at this point," said police commander Kerry Yamaguchi, without confirming that the man in the video was the suspect, or any possible motive.

President Joe Biden - who last month called on Congress to enact "commonsense" gun law reforms - had been briefed on the shooting, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tweeted.

'Gun violence epidemic'

Majority leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate "must and will move forward on legislation to help stop the epidemic of gun violence."

"My heart is breaking as we watch this unspeakable event unfold in our Boulder community," said Colorado governor Jared Polis, calling the incident a "senseless tragedy."

"Words can do no justice to the tragedy that has unfolded this afternoon," tweeted Boulder mayor Sam Weaver.

'We ran'

Police responded to phone calls of shots fired in the area, and a possible person with a patrol rifle, around 2.30pm local time (1830 GMT), said Herold.

Eyewitnesses inside the supermarket said they heard multiple gunshots before fleeing through a back entrance.

"I just nearly got killed for getting a soda and a bag of chips," Ryan Borowski, who was in the store when he heard at least eight gunshots, told CNN.

"It felt amazing that everybody was helping each other out and that our instincts were on the same page and we ran... I don't know why other people didn't, and I'm sorry that they froze. I wish that this just didn't happen."

Unverified early images livestreamed by an eyewitness showed at least three people lying prone on the ground both inside and outside the store, before multiple new gunshots rang out.

Dozens of armored vehicles, ambulances and armed personnel including FBI agents and SWAT teams were deployed to the scene.

Later, shoppers who had been led safely out of the store sat wrapped in blankets, talking to emergency workers in the snow-covered parking area.

"Police officers' actions fell nothing short of being heroic," said Herold, adding the "very complex investigation" would take at least five days to complete.

"Our hearts are broken over this senseless act of violence," said King Soopers spokeswoman Kelli McGannon, praising "first responders who so bravely responded to these acts of violence."

'Next mass shooting'

The shooting follows another mass shooting last week at Asian-owned spas in the southeastern state of Georgia that left eight dead.

Colorado has previously suffered two of the most infamous mass shootings in US history.

In 1999, two teenage boys shot and killed 12 classmates and a teacher at Columbine High School before dying by suicide.

Then in 2012, a heavily armed man stormed a movie theater showing a Batman film in Aurora, Colorado, murdering 12. The gunman is now serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

President Biden said last month he wanted Congress to pass laws that would require background checks on all gun sales and ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

"This administration will not wait for the next mass shooting to heed that call," Biden said.

On Monday, Colorado senator Michael Bennet - a Democrat - urged Americans "to revisit a national conversation about gun violence that does not regress into partisanship."