Inside the apartment, a suitcase stuffed with camouflage pants lay open in the bedroom. A cardboard rifle box leaned against a shelving unit. The kitchen counter was covered with journal pages, some with references to Norse and Celtic myths. One page read, “Give up trying to do anything nothing works works.”
“He wouldn’t talk to you,” a neighbor, Teresa Muniz, said. “He wouldn’t say hi or good morning. He wouldn’t smile.”
Mr. Ostrem was expected to make a first court appearance on Friday in Adams County, just outside Denver.
On Thursday, the coroner’s office in Adams County identified the three people killed. Carlos Moreno, 66, and Victor Vasquez, 26, were found dead at the Walmart. Pamela Marques, 52, died later at a hospital.
Around Denver, families of the victims and witnesses who bolted for exits or hid under tables were reeling from the bursts of gunfire that transformed a normal shopping trip into carnage.
Robert Gallegos, one of Mr. Moreno’s cousins, said that his family got the news in a phone call at 11:30 Wednesday night.
“I knew once the phone rang that something was wrong,” Mr. Gallegos said. “You just take for granted that it wasn’t your family, and then you get a call saying that it was.”
He said that Mr. Moreno had gone shopping with his wife and a granddaughter, neither of whom was hurt. He described Mr. Moreno as a gentle, bighearted family man who loved fishing, hunting and camping, and adored his two grown daughters and grandchildren.
“He would never hurt anybody,” Mr. Gallegos said. “That’s what hurts so much about this: He would never harm anybody.”
Jessica Luna, a friend who set up a fund-raising page for Mr. Vasquez, said that he had two young daughters and that he was expecting a third child.
“It’s just tragic,” Ms. Luna said in a brief telephone interview.
In a news conference on Thursday morning, Mr. Avila, the Thornton police spokesman, said that Mr. Ostrem did not have an extensive criminal history.
He was found guilty of harassment in 1990 and was sentenced to two days in jail. He was arrested on a string of charges in 1999, all of which appear to have been dismissed, according to records from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. He was arrested in 2013 in Wheat Ridge, Colo., on a charge of driving under the influence.
He had struggled financially in recent years and declared bankruptcy in 2015. Two businesses registered in his name, Ostrem Installation and MKA Electronics, are listed as “delinquent” in a state database.
He kept a steady job as a sheet-metal fabricator at B&M Roofing in Frederick, Colo., about 30 miles north of Denver. David Heidt, an owner of the company, described Mr. Ostrem as a diligent worker who showed up for his shifts at 6:30 a.m., quietly did his work and did not show any sign of hostility or disruptive behavior.
“We’re bewildered,” Mr. Heidt said. “He was never any trouble to the business or other employees.”
The last time anyone at work saw him was Wednesday — the day of the shooting — when Mr. Ostrem left his work station around 9 a.m. and never returned.
“He walked out,” Mr. Heidt said. “Not a word.”Continue reading the main story