By Joel Hillan

THORNTON, Colo. (CBS4) – The Golden Corral in Thornton stepped in to help those affected by the shooting at Walmart on Wednesday night.

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The restaurant is just one parking lot away, and it didn’t take long for the chaos next door to begin spilling over and for the employees to spring into action.

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“Police and swat teams started staging people, bringing employees over and customers who were stranded because they weren’t allowing cars out of the parking lot,” said Howard Walters, the Director of Operations for the restaurant.

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In stories of tragedy, it’s not hard to find people who are helping.

“Everybody’s scared. Everybody’s in a tough way. They’re either waiting for their cars or waiting for their rides,” he said.

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And that’s when the call was made to feed everybody for free.

“As you can imagine, everyone was pretty distraught,” he said. “So, just the fact that we could sit them down, calm them down, give them something to do, sit down and have a meal to take their mind off until their ride showed up and were able to pick them up. We just felt like it was the right thing to do.”

Many of the extraordinary employees at Walmart who stayed calm and made sure people were evacuated were back at work on Thursday. They cleaned up and reclaimed the workspace which had been so badly violated just hours before.

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Thornton Police requested the Regional Transportation District (RTD) provide a bus to shelter witnesses who had yet to give their statements to police, or who had to wait for their cars to be released from the extended crime scene area.

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“We are frequently called upon by law enforcement agencies to provide buses for shelter during tragedies like last night’s or something as routine as a water leak that forces a temporary evacuation from an apartment building,” said Scott Reed, Assistant General Manager of Communications for RTD. “We are proud to be a part of the communities we serve.”

Joel Hillan anchors CBS4 This Morning on weekends as well as reports stories for CBS4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. Follow Joel on Twitter @joelhillan.

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