A little over a year after the mass shooting at the south Boulder King Soopers, the community turned on their TVs or opened social media to news of a similar story unfolding in Buffalo, New York.
Ten people killed in a shooting at a local grocery store.
The Buffalo shooter, who authorities believe to be an avowed white supremacist, on May 14 drove to the Tops Friendly Markets on Buffalo’s predominantly Black East Side, killing 10 people and injuring three more, according to reporting from the Washington Post.
While the motivation may have been different, the circumstances — the location, the number of people who died, the local time it occurred — were close enough to what happened in Boulder, that it could easily lead to people feeling retraumatized, according to Janine D’Anniballe, director of trauma services at Mental Health Partners.
“Really, anytime there is a mass shooting event, it’s likely to trigger our community or people who’ve been impacted by the King Soopers shooting,” she said. “(But) the more similar to the original trauma, the more powerful the trigger, for sure.”
Some community members quickly stepped up to show their support.
Members of the Boulder Collective Facebook group, for example, collected signatures for an e-card they planned to send to Buffalo.
“This is something that is felt deep in the community, and I hope everyone is able to heal and find peace,” one person wrote.
Boulder Mayor Aaron Brockett reached out to Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown with the intent to show solidarity and offer support for the community — whenever it may feel ready to accept it.
“The circumstances of the Buffalo shooting in particular hit very close to home as we in Boulder know all too well the terror and the trauma of a mass shooting in our beloved neighborhood grocery store,” Brockett said in Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
Minutes before the mayor addressed the Buffalo shooting during the meeting, Councilmember Matt Benjamin read a declaration in acknowledgement of Gun Violence Awareness Day.
It was scheduled well before the shooting in Buffalo.
“It has added weight for those of us that are certainly reliving our tragedy here in the community.” Benjamin said.
For those who may be struggling, D’Anniballe recommended a few things.
First: Recognize that any feelings that may come up are normal.
“Normalize the fact that if we do feel more anxious, more sad, more angry, that all of that is a normal response to the trigger event,” she said. “People aren’t being out of line or otherwise losing their minds. It’s actually quite normal.”
She also said it’s beneficial to acknowledge the feeling. If a person can name what they’re feeling, they can make accommodations. For example, if physically going into the grocery store makes a person feel uneasy, perhaps having groceries delivered could help.
“That doesn’t mean that someone’s avoiding,” she said. “Sometimes it’s just taking care until we can restabilize our nervous system.”
Lastly, she said it’s helpful to minimize exposure to stories out of Buffalo. Avoid videos and don’t keep the news on constantly.
Moving one’s body — whether gardening, going for a walk or dancing — as well as finding moments of joy and goodness, can be helpful tools for nervous system regulation, D’Anniballe said.
And no matter what, there’s no stigma for those in need of extra support.
“There’s no shame,” she said. “We’re having normal responses to just abnormal trauma events.”
The Boulder Strong Resource Center on Baseline Road remains open for anyone impacted by the King Soopers shooting. Learn more at weareboulderstrong.com.
For immediate help, call the Colorado Crisis Line at 1-844-493-8255 or text “TALK” to 38255.
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