A suspect is in custody, Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold said, but authorities did not share any information on the type of weapon used or any possible motive.
“We will work around the clock to get this accomplished,” she said, adding that such a complex investigation will take at least five days to complete.
Herold said the slain officer, 51-year-old Eric Talley, was one of the first officers to respond to the scene. Talley had joined the Boulder police force in 2010, she said.
Officials did not disclose the identity of any of the other victims, saying they needed to first notify family members.
While police investigate the chain of events, witnesses shared their experience with the terror and panic inside the store.
Steven McHugh said his son-in-law and two granddaughters were there when a gunman attacked.
“The intensity, the awfulness is going to last for the rest of their lives,” he said.
Ryan Borowski told CNN he was shopping at the store when he heard the first shots, and by the third one, everyone was running. He said he couldn’t believe it happened in his town.
“Boulder feels like a bubble, and the bubble burst,” Borowski said. “This feels like the safest spot in America, and I just nearly got killed for getting a soda and a bag of chips.”
He added: “It doesn’t feel like there’s anywhere safe anymore.”
What authorities say happened
The Boulder police tweeted about 2:49 p.m. (4:49 p.m. ET) that there was an “Active Shooter at the King Soopers on Table Mesa. AVOID THE AREA.”
In scanner traffic, officers radioed that they were in a gunfight. They continued to report that they were being fired at with multiple rounds through at least 3:21 p.m. local time.
Talley was among the first officers to report to the chaotic scene outside King Soopers, officials said.
“He was, by all accounts, one of the outstanding officers of the Boulder Police Department, and his life was cut far too short,” Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty said.
Ambulances and multiple law enforcement agencies arrived at the store, which is part of a large shopping center with a two-story strip mall next door.
“He’s armed with a rifle, our officers shot back and returned fire — we do not know where he is in the store,” an officer said, according to a transcript of the audio.
One senior law enforcement source told CNN the weapon used in the shooting was an AR-15-style rifle.
At one point, police were also seen moving on the roof. The reason for the roof movements was unclear, but one witness who spoke to CNN affiliate KCNC said his relatives in the store were evacuated through the roof.
“They hid, ran upstairs, were hiding in a coat closet for the last hour,” the man said. “Half a dozen cops came in through the roof and got them and then told them, you know, ‘Stay quiet.'”
As events unfolded, KMGH’s helicopter recorded a shirtless man being taken from the supermarket. The man had what appeared to be blood on his arm and right leg and his hands appeared to be cuffed behind him as two officers escorted him away. The man was taken away in an ambulance.
It was unclear whether the man was involved in the reported active shooting inside the store.
At one point, police officials tweeted they wanted people at another location, about three miles away, to shelter in place because of a “report of armed, dangerous individual.” But it turned out the second site was not connected to the supermarket shooting, officials said.
Calls for action against gun violence
On the heels of the three spa shootings in Atlanta, the latest attack stoked calls for action and expressions of fear.
The tragedy in Colorado feels especially personal, Giffords said, considering how the shooting she survived in a Tucson grocery store devastated her community.
So far this year, there have been at least six mass shootings with four or more killed in the US.
Colorado Senator Michael Bennet also called for a national gun violence conversation and nonpartisan action.
“It’s long past time for Congress to take meaningful action to keep deadly weapons out of the wrong hands,” he said.
King Sooper is owned by the Kroger company, which said the store will remain closed during the police investigation.
CNN’s Steve Almasy, Paul P. Murphy, Melissa Gray, Keith Allen, Kelsie Smith, Deanna Hackney, Dianne Gallagher and Joe Sutton contributed to this report.
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