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What The Boulder Shooting Means For A Neighborhood Resident

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The King Soopers grocery store where Monday's shooting took place was a neighborhood hub for people around Boulder, Colo. Christine Chen has been going there since she was a kid when her grandmother lived nearby, and now she has kids of her own. She wrote a long thread on Twitter this week about the mass shooting at her neighborhood supermarket coming so soon after the deadly rampage in Atlanta, where the gunman targeted Asian Americans.

Christine Chen, welcome to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

CHRISTINE CHEN: Thank you very much, Ari.

SHAPIRO: What kind of memories do you have of the King Soopers on Table Mesa Dr.?

CHEN: I have really fond memories of the King Soopers here. My grandmother lived a couple blocks away when I was growing up, and I would go grocery shopping with her. I would get free cookies from the bakery. There was a mechanical horse at the exit of the store that you could ride for a penny, and that was my favorite thing to do.

SHAPIRO: (Laughter).

CHEN: And I really love the store. I had friends whose parents worked there. It really was a community hub. It is a community hub.

SHAPIRO: Now, you live right by the supermarket. But when the shooting happened, you were 10 miles away. Tell us about what you were doing.

CHEN: Yes, I was not at home. I was visiting my parents, who I hadn't seen in a few weeks. And, you know, they have recently been vaccinated, and so I've been wanting to spend a bit more time with them beyond dropping groceries off at the front door. And, you know, I went over in part because I wanted to speak to them face-to-face about the rising anti-Asian violence going on in this country...

SHAPIRO: Inspired by the Atlanta shooting.

CHEN: Yes. Well - and, you know, even before that, with elderly Asians being attacked all around the country. And I wanted to go over and talk about it, to see if they wanted to talk about it, to ask them to be extra careful when they go out. It's a really hard conversation to have with your parents who are perfectly capable of making these own decisions and parents who have been in this country for more than 50 years.

SHAPIRO: You compare it to the talk that Black parents have with their children.

CHEN: Yeah. I mean, it's different, of course, because the conversation is not about law enforcement and the police. It's different. But at the same time, it's a talk in the same way that you have to have a talk about safety and violence due to race. And it's a very heavy burden to carry.

SHAPIRO: So that's where you were when the supermarket shooting happened. And you have kids of your own, as I mentioned. What have you told them about this?

CHEN: They're young. They're very young. And, you know, to be honest, I'm still trying to navigate telling them about this week. I have told them, and I'm trying to figure out how much to tell them. It's a horrible thing that so many people have had to have this conversation over the last 20-plus years with all these incidents of mass shooting in places that are supposed to be safe. And the fact that we have to have these conversations with our children at all - what does that say about our society?

SHAPIRO: Every parent, I think, wants to promise their children that they will keep them safe, that they will protect them. Do you feel like that's a promise you can keep?

CHEN: I think it's a promise we try and keep. But I think, you know, as much as we are having a global health crisis with this pandemic, we are having an American health crisis with this epidemic of gun violence. And it has to stop. And we've been saying that it has to stop for over 20 years, yet it keeps on going.

SHAPIRO: What do you expect you are going to feel the next time you go into your neighborhood grocery store, whenever that may be?

CHEN: You know, I've been thinking about that a lot in the last day. And to me, this - King Soopers is all about life. It's about meeting people you know and saying hello. It's about getting the food that feeds us, picking up the medications that keep us healthy. And when we go back - and I hope to go back - for me, I want to remember the lives of those who worked there and who visited there and not about their deaths. And I want to go there to honor them and to honor the community.

SHAPIRO: Christine Chen is a resident of Boulder, Colo.

Thank you for talking with us.

CHEN: Thank you for having me, Ari. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.