‘I would have literally been in that store’: Lakeland mayor reflects on Colorado supermarket shooting

Polk County

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – The mayor of Lakeland is grateful fate was on his side when grocery shopping wasn’t on his list of errands to run Monday afternoon in Boulder, Colorado.

Courtesy Bill Mutz

“I’m extremely grateful I wasn’t there. That’s a place we take the grandkids with us. That is a place that has an ice cream shop just around the corner. That is one of their favorites,” said Mayor Bill Mutz.

Mutz often spends time in Boulder, where his son and his young family lives.

On Monday, Mutz was running errands in the shopping center where King Sooper is located less than a half-hour before the deadly shooting took place.

“That King Sooper’s is where we pick things up. I would have literally been in that store had I had a grocery item. I didn’t. I ran other errands. I came home and that’s when I heard the news of what had occurred,” said the mayor.

Courtesy – Bill Mutz

Ten people were killed in the shooting. The suspect has been arrested and is being held without bond.

“There’s just a very subdued feeling in this community. We come to this city several times a year. This is a city that is very broadly accepting,” he said.

Now, he says, that enthusiasm is gone.

He spoke with a couple at another grocery store who said they were afraid to go inside.

“It is a mundane, normal piece of life, that you’re just going out and doing and something like this can happen. We can’t run in fear of things like this,” said Mutz.

This wasn’t the mayor’s only exposure to tragedy this week.

Before arriving in Boulder, Mutz was in Atlanta visiting his two daughters.

“I was getting gas at a gas station that was between the three massage parlors where the shootings had taken place,” he said.

At that Georgia gas pump, he reflected on the eight lives lost in that March 16 shooting.

“I was just looking around and thinking about how horrific that event had been earlier in the week,” he said.

After experiencing these close encounters, the mayor hopes something can be done to keep guns out of the hands of people who are mentally ill or dangerous.

“What we really need to do is make sure we’re working on the mental health issues, dramatically,” he said. “The thing I would be most sensitive to is making certain is where we have these behavioral health issues and access to a gun permit, that’s something we provide more scrutiny over.”

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