BRIGHTON, Colo. — The sheet metal worker accused of fatally shooting three people inside a suburban Denver Walmart was told Friday during his first court appearance that he is being held without bond for possible charges of first-degree murder.
Scott Ostrem, 47, was told by Adams County District Judge Ted C. Tow III that the anticipated charges carry a sentence of life in prison without parole or the death penalty. Ostrem barely spoke during the hearing, responding only “yes when asked if he understood his rights.
After the hearing, District Attorney Dave Young declined comment on whether his office would seek the death penalty.
Ostrem is accused of walking into the Walmart in Thornton, a large blue-collar suburb about 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of Denver, and fatally shooting two men and a woman late Wednesday. He was arrested Thursday after a brief car chase near his apartment, which is located about 5 miles (8 kilometers) from the store.
The judge denied a request by public defender Emily Fleischmann to have police reassert control of the store’s interior so Ostrem’s defense team could conduct its own investigation of the crime scene.
Police have released control of the store back to Walmart, which said Friday it had not determined when the store will reopen. Because police no longer control the store, Ostrem’s lawyers would have to ask Walmart for permission to investigate the crime scene.
Young said that authorities may also seek charges of attempted murder against Ostrem but that police first need more time to interview people who were inside the store during the shooting and escaped uninjured.
Police have released very little information about Ostrem, who abruptly left his job hours before the attack. Neighbors described him as loner who often seemed angry. A supervisor at a roofing company where Ostrem described him as a quiet and talented worker making metal flashing.
Killed were Pamela Marques, 52, of Denver; Carlos Moreno, 66, of Thornton; and Victor Vasquez, 26, of Denver.
None were Walmart employees, and all were Hispanic.
Ostrem is white. Police have offered no possible motive for the shooting other than to say there was nothing to suggest it was related to terrorism. Young declined comment Friday about a motive.
Residents of the Samuel Park Apartments building where Ostrem lived described him as a rude man who kept to himself.
Teresa Muniz said she sometimes saw Ostrem carrying a shotgun or a bow and set of arrows to and from the building. A Facebook profile that appears to belong to Ostrem lists only one friend, a woman who is from Thornton and who has since moved to Florida.
David Heidt, his boss at B&M Roofing, said Ostrem worked in the company’s metal fabrication shop for the last three years without any problems until he walked away from his job Wednesday morning.
“We’re all bewildered as to where we are now,” Heidt said.
Ostrem in 2015 filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and listed his income for the previous year as $47,028. He estimated that he owed more than $85,000 including credit card debt.
He had minor run-ins with police dating back to the 1990s, including a December 1999 charge of resisting arrest in Denver that was dismissed the following year. Ostrem has been tied to at least 11 street addresses, including six apartments, in the Denver metro area since 1991.