By Keith Coffman
THORNTON, Colo. (Reuters) – Police in Colorado on Thursday captured a man who they had said calmly walked into a suburban Denver Walmart and fatally shot three people at random before driving away.
Scott Ostrem, 47, was taken into custody without incident a day after the shooting, following a tip from the public, the Thornton Police Department said.
Police spokesman Victor Avila told reporters Ostrem had “a minimal criminal history” and that authorities had not yet established a motive for the rampage.
Video broadcast from CBS affiliate KCNC-TV showed the suspect being handcuffed by police against the side of an SUV as FBI agents carrying rifles and wearing body armor looked on.
KCNC-TV said police SWAT team officers had ringed the suspect’s last known address in suburban Adams County on Thursday morning when Ostrem drove past and was spotted. He was followed by law enforcement and journalists, KCNC-TV reported, and was arrested in the nearby suburb of Westminster following a “quick pursuit.”
Police had earlier released a surveillance camera photograph of a middle-aged white man wearing a black jacket and blue jeans. They also published a photo of the red four-door Mitsubishi hatchback he was believed to have fled in.
Ostrem “nonchalantly” entered the store in Thornton, about 10 miles (16 km) northeast of downtown Denver, and opened fire on shoppers and employees shortly after 6 p.m. (8 p.m. EDT) on Wednesday, Avila had earlier told reporters, citing witness accounts.
Two men were killed in the shooting and a woman who was shot was taken to a hospital where she died, according to police. No one else was wounded, police said.
“What we have determined is that it is random as of right now,” Avila told reporters. “As witnesses stated, the person came in and just shot towards a group.”
The Walmart had been quickly surrounded by police and fire crews. Authorities initially said “multiple parties” had been injured. Avila said there was no indication the shooting was an act of terrorism and no one had claimed responsibility.
“We can’t rule anything out,” he said.
Walmart customer Aaron Stephens, 44, of Thornton told Reuters he was buying groceries at a self-checkout stand when he heard gunshots and ricocheting bullets.
“The employees started screaming and the customers started screaming” as people began to flee, he said. “I ran out, too, because I didn’t want to get shot.”
NBC television affiliate 9NEWS reported a woman whose son was in the Walmart said he heard about 30 gunshots.
Early accounts of multiple casualties had revived painful memories for the Denver area, where a gunman killed 12 people in 2012 at a midnight screening of the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises” at a theater in the suburb of Aurora. The shooter, James Holmes, is serving a dozen consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.
In 1999 two 12th-graders fatally shot 12 fellow students and a teacher at Columbine High School in suburban Jefferson County. The pair, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, then committed suicide in the campus library.
(Additional reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York and Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Bill Trott)