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The March mass shooting of a Boulder King sooper was instantly the biggest story in the country, even before we knew ten people had been killed. In contrast, the May 10th attack at a birthday party in Colorado Springs that killed six related victims had comparatively little impact nationwide. In fact, it wasn’t until reports surfaced that the shooter, 28-year-old Teodoro Macias, who subsequently committed suicide, was supposedly motivated by the anger over the non-invitation – and it still is pale compared to the attention paid to the bouldering tragedy.

The disparity in the number of victims was undoubtedly a factor in this inequality, but also likely the circumstances of the crime and the race of the victims, who were identified by Colorado Springs authorities as Melvin Perez, 30, on May 11; Mayra Ibarra de Perez, 33; Joana Cruz, 52; Jose Gutiérrez, 21; Sandra Ibarra-Perez, 28; and José Ibarra, 26.

The March 22 attack on the Boulder King Soopers was in fact the sixteenth mass shooting in Colorado in the past eighteen months, by the standard set by the Gun Violence Archive: any incident that results in at least four people being killed or injured. In addition, about half of these incidents occurred at family gatherings, parties, or similar gatherings. The frequency with which celebrations are destroyed by gunfire is the unfortunate explanation for why so many of these events are covered in the media with relatively superficial coverage.

And then there is the question of race.

In our article “Guns Killed Four Times More People of Color Than Whites in Colorado” from September 9, 2020, we examined state-specific data from the National Gun Violence Memorial. Statistics showed that in the first eight months of 2020, when ninety people were killed by firearms in Colorado, about three-quarters of the victims were black people.

That percentage was far from what one would expect based on the demographics of Colorado. In July 2019, the US Census Bureau put the category described as “white alone, not Hispanic, or Latin American” at 67.7 percent of the state population, with “Hispanic or Latin American” accounting for 21.8 percent and “black or African American alone” “Come in at 4.6 percent.

Not all of these deaths were classified as homicides; the memorial also includes people who have committed suicide. But most of the murders didn’t make the big headlines, including those involving people of color.

These numbers weren’t anomalies, as our March 4 article, “Recalling 33 Colorado Gun Violence Victims From Bloody Start of 2021” shows. The overwhelming majority of the victims were colored, and most of their deaths received only superficial attention, even in Colorado.

Last weekend’s shooting in Colorado Springs might only have made local headlines if there had been two or three victims instead of six and the reasons for the horrific act seemed more vague than mouthful. In contrast, the people killed in Boulder were white, they were dying in an unusual location for a mass shooting – a grocery store rather than a trailer park – and they didn’t know the shooter. That is the disheartening media calculation when it comes to reporting firearm deaths.

An online fundraiser was set up to help family members of the victims of the Springs shooting. Click for more details.

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Michael Roberts has been writing for Westword since October 1990, where he worked as a music editor and media columnist. It currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.

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