A fast-acting Starbucks barista said it was his job to protect his 69-year-old co-worker — by hiding her behind a pile of trash cans — as the accused Colorado gunman bore down on them.
Logan Smith recalled the split-second decision he had to make Monday afternoon after he witnessed alleged mass murderer Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa kill a customer in the parking lot of the Boulder King Soopers, then made his way into the store.
“I knew since she is my elder, as she is older than me, I must protect her over myself and so instinctively I pushed her into a corner, covered her with trash cans and then tried to find a place for myself,” Smith told Fox 31.
But at 6-foot-5, it wasn’t so easy to hide himself.
“My last resort was a trash can that my head was visible outside of so I wasn’t in the safest situation,” he said.
Smith said he heard the gunman approach — standing about 13 feet away from the coffee kiosk inside the grocery store.
Alissa didn’t speak as he made his way through the store, Smith recalled.
“Not a single word was said from him, from what I could hear, until police arrived,” he said. “They shouted at him, gunshots were fired. It was just silence and the store music.”
He called the harrowing ordeal the “longest 20 minutes of my life.”
Smith — who lost three co-workers in the mass shooting — said he’s no hero for what he did.
“As a grocery store employee, we signed the paper when we got the job — the customers are first and I’ll put my life underneath their lives,” said Smith, a member of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. “If anyone was going to die, it was me before my customers, before my coworkers.”
He added, “I don’t consider myself a hero. I believe our police department, I believe the officer that was shot at the entrance, he is the biggest hero of it all.”
The shooting left 10 people dead, including veteran Boulder police officer Eric Talley, a father of seven who was first to arrive on scene.
Among the victims was Smith’s colleague, Denny Stong, who picked up coffee from Smith the day he died.
At 20, Stong was the youngest of the shooting victims and worked at the King Soopers. He was training to be a pilot.
“He did nothing wrong and deserved this in no way at all. He made no choice that led to this,” wrote his friend, James Noland, on a GoFundMe page.
“He simply showed up to work, and was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”