DENVER – The man accused of shooting and killing three people at a Thornton, Colorado Walmart on Wednesday night will likely learn if prosecutors will seek the death penalty against him Monday afternoon.
Scott Allen Ostrem, 47, made his first court appearance Friday morning in Adams County. Formal charges have yet to be filed against him, but his arrest warrant carried first-degree murder after deliberation charges.
Prosecutors are expected to seek similar first-degree murder charges, and an attorney for the state said at Friday’s hearing that “there’s going to be multiple counts in this case.” District Attorney Dave Young said they might also pursue attempted murder charges.
"When you fire into a crowd of people you don't necessarily need to fire more than one shot to be convicted or charged with attempted murder," Young said.
Prosecutors initially argued that they should have until Wednesday to file formal charges, saying that they needed to interview more people and review more video footage to determine who, if anyone in particular, Ostrem was targeting in the shooting.
Police and the FBI say they still have not determined a motive for the Wednesday night shooting, which left three people dead.
First-degree murder convictions carry sentences of either life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty in Colorado, but prosecutors must say which penalty they are seeking when the initial charges are filed. But only three people remain on Colorado's death row, and no one has been executed in the state since 1997.
Young would not comment on whether he would seek the death penalty for Ostrem.
And though prosecutors had asked for more time, Judge Ted Tow set the advisement for 1:30 p.m. Monday. The affidavit in the case will remain sealed until at least then.
Ostrem was represented by two public defenders in court Friday, and said little, other than answering “yes” when asked questions about his understanding of the proceedings by the judge. He was dressed in a blue jail jumpsuit.
One of his attorneys asked the judge to have police officers re-seize the Walmart store, saying she was concerned that some evidence could be compromised. She said her team hadn’t been allowed into the store, and that she had concerns that evidence could be destroyed once the store reopens.
But the judge denied the request, saying he had no authority to order police or Walmart to do anything.
A Walmart spokesperson told Denver-based KMGH on Friday they were working to decide when the store might reopen.
Police arrested Ostrem on Thursday morning more than 12 hours after the shooting occurred. An anonymous citizen tip alerted authorities to his presence in the area, police said, though FBI agents also spotted him in the area. Ostrem was arrested just a few blocks from his apartment.
The coroner for Adams and Broomfield counties on Thursday identified the three killed in the shooting as 52-year-old Pamela Marques of Denver, 66-year-old Carlos Moreno of Thornton, and 26-year-old Victor Vasquez of Denver.
The three were shot shortly after 6 p.m. Wednesday, when Ostrem allegedly walked in and fired a handgun, police said Thursday morning.
Ostrem had a history of run-ins with the police—most recently a driving while ability impaired conviction in Wheat Ridge in 2014. Neighbors said he was “weird” and kept to himself. Another neighbor told KMGH Ostrem came off as rude and unapproachable.
“He was on the edge, not friendly, wouldn’t talk to anybody,” said neighbor Teresa Muniz. “You didn’t dare talk to him, because he always looked mad.”
Ostrem walked off his roofing job Wednesday morning in Frederick, the company confirmed, but was otherwise a “good worker,” fellow employees said. He also had several failed businesses, and declared bankruptcy in September 2015.
A law enforcement source also told KMGH Thursday that Ostrem's mental health history was being investigated.
Ostrem is being held without bond pending his formal charges.
"We've conducted hundreds of interviews, but we’ve got to go through those and see who might actually be a victim of a crime, and that takes time,” Young said. “But we'll get it done and have charges ready on Monday."