The man suspected of gunning down 10 people at a Colorado supermarket bought a high-powered weapon less than a week before the massacre, officials said Tuesday.
The suspect, whom police identified as Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 21, was charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder in connection with Monday’s mass shooting at the King Soopers grocery store, Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold said at a news conference.
Alissa bought a Ruger AR-556 on March 16, according to an arrest warrant affidavit, citing law enforcement databases.
The court document did not explicitly identify the weapon used in Monday’s shooting. Witnesses described the killer as using an AR-style weapon, the affidavit said.
When arresting police asked Alissa whether there are any other suspects, he “did not answer questions, though he asked to speak to his mother,” the affidavit said.
He was shot in the leg and taken into custody, police said.
Aerial news video from Monday showed police escorting a man in handcuffs, his right leg covered in blood. He wasn’t wearing a shirt or shoes.
Authorities declined to link the video to Alissa during the news conference Tuesday morning. But in the arrest affidavit, police describe how Alissa surrendered to a SWAT team, consistent with what was in the video.
“Alissa had removed all of his clothing and was dressed only in shorts,” according to the court document. “The suspect had blood on his right thigh.”
The suspect did not appear to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, police said, adding that the motive was unknown. Law enforcement officials said they had seen no evidence that terrorism or hate was the motive.
“My heart aches today,” Colorado Gov. Jared Polis told reporters. “We will hold the evildoer responsible to the fullest extent of the law for his actions.”
Speaking from the White House, President Joe Biden mourned with the families of those who were killed.
“Ten lives have been lost, and more families have been shattered by gun violence in the state of Colorado,” he said. “Jill and I are devastated.”
Biden added: “Those poor folks who died left behind families with a big hole in their hearts.”
Biden noted that the Boulder massacre came a week after eight people, including six women of Asian descent, were gunned down in metro Atlanta.
“While the flag was still flying half-staff for the tragedy, another American city has been scarred by gun violence and resulting trauma,” Biden said. “I even hate to say it because we’ve been saying it so often, ‘My heart goes out.’ “
Among the 10 who were killed was Boulder police Officer Eric Talley, 51, who had been the first officer to arrive at the King Soopers on Monday. Talley, a father of seven, was an 11-year veteran of the Boulder police force.
Herold identified the other victims as Denny Stong, 20; Neven Stanisic, 23; Rikki Olds, 25; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Teri Leiker, 51; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; and Jody Waters, 65.
One of the victims was gunned down on the pavement in the parking lot, and another was shot in his or her car, the affidavit said.
“The employees observed the suspect shoot an elderly man in the parking lot,” according to the affidavit. “The suspect then walked up to the elderly man, stood over him and shot him multiple additional times.”
Another “deceased party” was found “in a vehicle in the parking lot,” the court document said. The victim’s car was parked next to a black Mercedes-Benz registered to Alissa’s brother, according to the affidavit.
The suspect lived in nearby Arvada. Authorities didn’t reveal much else about him.
One of his former high school wrestling teammates, Angel Hernandez, said Alissa got enraged after losing a match in practice once, letting out a stream of invectives and yelling he would kill everyone.
Hernandez said the coach kicked Alissa off the team for the outburst.“He was one of those guys with a short fuse,” Hernandez said. “Once he gets mad, it’s like something takes over and it’s not him. There is no stopping him at that point.”
Hernandez said Alissa also would act strangely sometimes, turning around suddenly or glancing over his shoulder. “He would say, ‘Did you see that? Did you see that?’” Hernandez recalled. “We wouldn’t see anything. We always thought he was messing with us.”
Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty said no other suspect is being sought.
“At this time, we fully believe, we’re confident, the community is safe,” he said.
Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., who represents Boulder, said he was struck that Monday’s events unfolded at a supermarket, where people regularly congregated during the pandemic shutdowns.
“Grocery stores like King Soopers have been one of our consistent gathering places, one of the few routine activities that we’ve continued to engage in as Coloradans and as Americans,” he told reporters. “It’s hard to describe what it means for this safe place to see a horrible tragedy like this to unfold.”
Monday’s shooting prompted a massive police response as multiple agencies rushed to the shopping plaza.
Customers and employees fled through a back loading dock to safety, hiding where they could in the store and taking refuge in nearby shops.
Colorado residents have become familiar with mass shootings, as two of this generation’s most notorious massacres took place within a short drive from Boulder.
Thirteen people were killed at Columbine High School in Littleton, 35 miles south of King Soopers, on April 20, 1999, before the two gunmen took their own lives.
On July 20, 2012, a gunman opened fire on moviegoers at the Century 16 Theater in Aurora, 35 miles southeast of the supermarket. Twelve people, who had gathered for a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises,” were killed.