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Minnesota teen escapes scene of Boulder shooting, returns the following day with his cello

Whoever told Louis Saxton to “run” as he was walking out of King Soopers on Monday afternoon may have saved his life. The 18-year-old Bemidji native was simply shopping for groceries on March 22, prior to what would become the scene of a mass shooting at the grocery store in Boulder, Colo.

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Bemidji native Louis Saxton plays his cello outside of King Soopers grocery story in Boulder, Colo., on Tuesday, March 23, 2021, a day after he survived the mass shooting occurring at the store. Submitted photo.
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BOULDER, Colo., -- Whoever told Louis Saxton to “run” as he was walking out of King Soopers on Monday afternoon may have saved his life.

The 18-year-old from Bemidji, Minn., was simply shopping for groceries on March 22, prior to what would become the scene of a mass shooting at the grocery store in Boulder, Colo.

“I ran for my life,” Saxton told Forum News Service on Thursday. “Straight back to my car and drove over the curb and all the way to Louisville, which is about 10 miles away.”

Saxton, who studies at the University of Colorado Boulder on a cello scholarship, lives directly across the street from the store where 10 people were slain. After class, he was picking up frozen fruit at the store, where he shops four or five times a week.

“I didn’t see anything,” he said. “I had serious tunnel vision and I was not able to process anything other than just getting to my car and getting out of there.”

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The following day Louis returned with his cello. He played two solo Bach pieces -- both he described as melancholy.

Saxton played in Bemidji High School’s orchestra and also graced local parks with his musical talents.

“I had to do something, otherwise I was never going to be able to process this and music has always been my safe space and my happy place,” he said. “So, I knew that if I could share even a little bit of that with those who have been so much less fortunate than I had — I at least was doing something to help.”

Marc Sallinger, a reporter for 9NEWS Denver, an ABC affiliate, captured a video of Saxton playing his cello outside of King Soopers on Tuesday, a day after the shooting.

Police identified the 10 victims of the shooting as Eric Talley, 51; 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. Stong, Olds and Leiker worked at the store, according to Reuters.

The suspect, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 21, of the Denver suburb of Arvada, stormed the King Soopers outlet armed with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle and a handgun and wearing a tactical vest, according to officials. He’s been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder.

“I just feel so unbearably sad that something like this has happened and so angry that 10 days prior the NRA sued on the ban to get rid of assault weapons (in Boulder) and that just makes me sick to my stomach that something could have prevented this and that we failed to stop this,” Saxton said.

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He added that he hasn’t been able to sleep much since the shooting.

“I’m thankful to that mystery person who told me to run,” Saxton said. “I’m glad to be here.”

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Bemidji native Louis Saxton plays his cello outside of King Soopers grocery story in Boulder, Colo., on Tuesday, March 23, 2021, a day after he survived the mass shooting occurring at the store. Submitted photo.

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Bemidji native Louis Saxton plays his cello outside of King Soopers grocery story in Boulder, Colo., on Tuesday, March 23, 2021, a day after he survived the mass shooting occurring at the store. Submitted photo.

Related Topics: BEMIDJI HIGH SCHOOL
Jillian Gandsey is the Multimedia Editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. She is an Iron Range native and a 2013 graduate of Bemidji State University. Follow Jillian on Twitter and Instagram @jilliangandsey. Contact her at (218) 333-9786, (218) 996-1216 or at jgandsey@bemidjipioneer.com.
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