Emily Giffen stepped outside to smoke a cigarette. King Soopers employees aren't supposed to smoke out front and she wasn't supposed to be on her break, but in that moment, she didn't really care.

As she sat down and smoked, another woman — Giffen thought she was a teenager — sat down next to her. Giffen thought the woman was going to judge her for her tobacco use. The stranger didn't say anything. 

Giffen was side-eying her when she heard a series of pops.

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"That wasn't fireworks," she told woman sitting with her. "And then we see this guy running across the intersection, and he just falls. And it wasn't like he tripped. It was like literally midstep, his body stopped. His just hit the ground."

Then there was another series of pops. Giffen and the stranger watched as the gunman advanced toward the store, squatting and moving, "like in the video games when they hold the gun and their knees are bent but they're walking with a gun."

The gunman then shot the man who'd fallen "four or five times right in the back." Giffen's mind was reeling, and she tried to rationalize a motive. They were in a parking lot, so maybe it was a drug deal gone bad. Or maybe the gunman knew that man.

"I thought it was about the guy on the ground," she said. "He made sure that dude was dead. He made sure that that dude would never get up ever again."

Boulder shooting timeline: What happened in the tragic hour in and around the King Soopers

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She and the other woman clung to each other. Giffen told her they needed to run. She lived across the street and offered to hide with this stranger in her bedroom. They took off.

"I was just like, no, we’re both — this is not the end of our lives," she said. "For nothing. For a guy who drove past how many f---ing stores to get to mine?"

But the stranger got into a Lyft and left. Giffen turned around and headed back to the store, "which is the dumbest thing I've ever done, but I did it because my friends and family and everyone I know was in that store."

Police officers screamed at her to move, to find cover, to get inside. She ran from door to door, trying to find a business that was open. Every door was locked. She crouched in a stairwell until an officer came and got her.

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She later connected with the stranger, who turned out to be 20, not 16, on Facebook. The two have been talking often. 

"I make the comment a lot, which I’ll probably never say again, but when I'm working in the grocery store and people are angry or yelling — you know how people get — I just say, 'Nobody’s dying today,'" she said. "It’s a freaking grocery store, who’s going to die because they bought spoiled milk?

"I just remember thinking about that. 'Dude I am not dying at my goddamn job.' I can die crossing the street, I can die getting hit by a bus. I'm not dying on the clock."

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