Wednesday marks 29 years since mass shooting at Chuck E. Cheese in Aurora

Inside a Chuck E. Cheese in Aurora, Colorado, a 19-year-old unexpectedly attacked and killed four individuals, commemorating 29 years since that tragic incident.

All of them died from gunshots. The victims were identified as Colleen O’Connor, 17, Margaret Kohlberg, 50, Ben Grant, 19, and Sylvia Crowell. Nathan Dunlap, an employee of Cheese E. Chuck restaurant in Aurora, killed four employees on the evening of December 14, 1993, while they were cleaning up after the restaurant.

In addition, Bobby Stephens had also been shot in the jaw but managed to escape, nearly killing Dunlap.

Dunlap, who was 19 years old at the moment of the shooting, then escaped from the location.

He was formally charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder. The investigation focused on the four counts of first-degree murder.

Based on statements from the staff, Dunlap was dismissed from the family restaurant over the summer following a conflict with a kitchen manager concerning work timetables.

According to authorities, Dunlap had in his possession a semiautomatic pistol, six bullets, and a set of gloves as he led the police to a gym bag located outside a building close to his mother’s residence.

Prosecutors stated that the shooter was motivated by a desire for retaliation following his termination as a cook at the establishment during the legal proceedings. The prosecution further asserted that he gained access to the eatery, concealed himself in a lavatory, and subsequently appeared once it had ceased operations for the day.

Phil Cherner, one of Dunlap’s lawyers, stated that in 2006, the state correctional facility started treating him with medication. Since then, his demeanor has undergone a transformation. Cherner also mentioned that Dunlap had an undiagnosed case of bipolar disorder when the crime occurred.

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Dunlap was sentenced to death for first-degree murder on four counts in Arapahoe County. In 1996, he was convicted by a jury of multiple counts of attempted murder, robbery, theft, and first-degree murder.

On May 22, 2013, John Hickenlooper, then-Gov., Granted a temporary reprieve from the death sentence. Following this, a petition for executive clemency was submitted. Subsequently, on Aug. 18-23, 2013, the District Court in Arapahoe County issued a warrant for his execution, and all of his appeals were exhausted on May 1, 2013.

The decision to block Dunlap’s execution has infuriated him, drawing quick criticism from Republicans ahead of the 2014 election and the victims’ relatives.

Cherner, Dunlap’s lawyer, expressed that Dunlap was “grateful. His demonstrations of remorse were genuine. He is truly saddened by the incident.”

Dunlap was one of the three individuals. The three men on the state’s death row had their sentences changed to life imprisonment, eliminating the option of parole. On March 23, 2020, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis approved a legislation to abolish the state’s capital punishment.

The current law in Colorado reflects the abolition of the death penalty, which is not a commentary on the ethical or moral implications of the death penalty in our society today. Governor Polis stated in the executive order, “Life imprisonment without parole or death can neither lessen the heartache and pain caused by the offender nor bring back the victims, No. 89148.

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