BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – On March 22, a gunman opened fire at a Boulder King Soopers, claiming the lives of 10 people. Police, fire, and emergency crews from across the Front Range rushed to the scene to help.
Among those responders was Reggie Finley, a 24-year-veteran of the Boulder Fire Department who’s dedicated 36 years of his life in the fire service.
“It was one of those types of calls that you prepare for, you train for, and we heard dispatched over the radio and thought ‘This can’t be right,’” Finley told CBSN Denver’s Kelly Werthmann. “We were rolling that direction and trying put things together, still not thinking it’s going to be the magnitude it was. We arrived and set up into teams, but there wasn’t much to do, sadly. We were there a long time, but there really was nobody to help. It was all kind of over so fast, so it’s very difficult.”
Finley explained the difficulty of that tragic day still weighs heavy on his heart and many of his fellow first responders.
“It was heartbreaking. Learning of all the people that were killed and knowing two of them personally,” Finley said, pausing as he choked back tears. “I just knew I had to do something. I mean, our law enforcement and public safety people really get taken care of, and rightly so. But the other nine people, a lot of times, civilians get left behind.”
Finley decided he wanted to do something to help raise money for the families of the shooting victims. He said he heard a success story involving a t-shirt, so he came up with a ‘Boulder Strong’ design that names and honors the 10 lives lost.
“I think it’s a great and came out wonderful,” Finley said. “I’m hoping we can sell a lot of them. 100% of the proceeds are going to the families. It’s going through the Boulder Local IAFF 900 and (money) will be distributed evenly.”
Each shirt costs $27 and while Finley doesn’t have a set goal for how much he’d like to raise for the families, he is hopeful many people will wear the shirts with pride.
“The more the better,” he said. “It’s a nice way for people to remember and wear these shirts proudly and show [the victims] aren’t forgotten. Those 10 beautiful souls are still with us, and we’re proud to wear that.”
Finley also said starting the fundraiser has helped him cope.
“It’s difficult to relive any of it, but it has helped knowing I’m trying to do something to help,” he said.