BOULDER, Colo. — Police on Tuesday identified a 21-year-old man as the suspect who opened fire inside a crowded Colorado supermarket, and court documents showed that he purchased an assault weapon less than a week before the attack that killed 10 people, including a police officer.

Supermarket employees told investigators that Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa shot an elderly man multiple times Monday outside the Boulder grocery store before going inside, according to the documents. Another person was found shot in a vehicle next to a car registered to the suspect’s brother.

Authorities said Alissa was from the Denver suburb of Arvada and that he engaged in a shootout with police inside the store. The suspect was being treated at a hospital and was expected to be booked into the county jail later in the day on murder charges.

Investigators have not established a motive, but they believe he was the only shooter, Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty said.

In Washington, President Joe Biden called on Congress to tighten the nation’s gun laws.

“Ten lives have been lost, and more families have been shattered by gun violence in the state of Colorado,” Biden said at the White House.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer vowed to bring forward two House-passed bills to require expanded background checks for gun buyers. Biden supports the measures, but they face a tougher route to passage in a closely divided Senate with a slim Democratic majority.

The suspect purchased the assault weapon just six days before the shooting, on March 16, according to the arrest affidavit released Tuesday. It was not immediately known where the gun was purchased.

The shooting came 10 days after a judge blocked a ban on assault rifles passed by the city of Boulder in 2018. That ordinance and another banning large-capacity magazines came after the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead.

A lawsuit challenging the bans was filed quickly, backed by the National Rifle Association. The judge struck down the ordinance under a Colorado law that blocks cities from making their own rules about guns.

A law enforcement official briefed on the shooting said the suspect’s family told investigators they believed Alissa was suffering some type of mental illness, including delusions. Relatives described times when Alissa told them people were following or chasing him, which they said may have contributed to the violence, the official said. The official was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to AP on condition of anonymity.

The attack was the nation’s deadliest mass shooting since a 2019 assault on a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, where a gunman killed 22 people in a rampage that police said targeted Mexicans.

The gunfire sent terrorized shoppers and employees scrambling for cover. SWAT officers carrying ballistic shields slowly approached the King Soopers store while others escorted frightened people away from the building, which had some of its windows shattered. Customers and employees fled through a back loading dock to safety. Others took refuge in nearby shops.

Multiple 911 calls paint a picture of a chaotic, terrifying scene, according to the affidavit.

One caller said the suspect opened fire out the window of his vehicle. Others called to say they were hiding inside the store as the gunman fired on customers. Witnesses described the shooter as having a black AR-15-style gun and wearing blue jeans and maybe body armor.

By the time he was in custody, Alissa had been struck by a bullet that passed through his leg, the affidavit said. He had removed most of his clothing and was dressed only in shorts. Inside the store, he had left the gun, a tactical vest, a semiautomatic handgun and his bloodied clothing, the affidavit said.

After the shooting, detectives went to Alissa’s home and found his sister-in-law, who told them that he had been playing around with a weapon she thought looked like a “machine gun,” about two days earlier, the document said.

A tapestry and a pillow blocked a narrow window next to the front door at the Arvada home believed to be owned by the suspect’s father. No one answered the door after several knocks, but young children occasionally pulled the pillow aside and peered out of the window. The two-story home with a three-car garage sits in a relatively new middle- and upper-class neighborhood.

Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold identified the slain officer as Eric Talley, 51, who had been with the force since 2010. He was the first to arrive after responding to a call about shots fired and someone carrying a gun, she said.

Homer Talley, 74, described his son as a devoted father who “knew the Lord.” He had seven children, ages 7 to 20.

“We know where he is,” his father told The Associated Press from his ranch in central Texas. “He loved his family more than anything. He wasn’t afraid of dying. He was afraid of putting them through it.”

The other dead ranged in age from 20 to 65. They were identified 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 Jodi Waters, 65.

Leiker, Olds and Stong worked at the supermarket, said former coworker Jordan Sailas.

Olds’ grandmother choked up on the phone as she described the young woman she played a large role in raising. “She was just a very kind and loving, bubbly person who lit up the room when she walked in,” said Jeanette Olds, 71, of Lafayette, Colorado.

The attack in Boulder, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northwest of Denver and home to the University of Colorado, stunned a state that has seen several mass shootings, including the 1999 Columbine High School massacre and the 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting.

Monday's attack was the seventh mass killing this year in the U.S., following the March 16 shooting that left eight people dead at three Atlanta-area massage businesses, according to a database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University.

It follows a lull in mass killings during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, which had the smallest number of such attacks in eight years, according to the database, which tracks mass killings defined as four or more dead, not including the shooter.

Biden announced that flags nationwide would be lowered in memory of the victims — an order that comes just as a previous flag-lowering proclamation expired for those killed in the Atlanta-area shootings. Together the two orders mean near-continuous national mourning for almost two weeks.


Slevin reported from Denver. Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo in Washington and Jim Anderson in Denver contributed to this report. Nieberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

(37) comments

Ann Maes

I'm not a gun owner and I don't admonish those who do own guns, but wouldn't a through psychological background check help before a purchase is allowed? Guns don't kill people, but mentally challenged people do. And then, if caught alive, they spend time in prison on tax payers dime. Gun laws will never end the killings. Mental health treatment can help.

Russell Scanlon

Another great day for the 2nd amendment. And another chance to parse words about what is “a semiautomatic rifle” (as if that makes any difference) and take wild potshots at the “left wing media” (as if they had anything to do with this) while everyone speculates on the mindset of the murderer. The fact that the NRA pushed to overturn Boulder’s modest gun restrictions is not at all inconsequential—it is in fact chilling.

At the very least we could have respect for the deceased before we start pushing our agendas.

Khal Spencer

Boulder's restriction would have been irrelevant since the shooter lived in another town. The law was challenged on strictly state constitutional grounds.

Russell Scanlon

Right. We should all just give up. As I said: Another glorious day for 2nd amendment rights.

Khal Spencer

You can hold the sarcasm with the mayo. The shooter did not live in Boulder or even Boulder Co., so the ban would not have stopped the purchase. Are you seriously telling me that a City of Boulder AW ban would have stopped the shooter, who was willing to not only violate the ban2, had it been in effect, but murder 10 people? We don't even know yet what the motive was, for that matter.

For a ban to be of much use, it should have been at least statewide or nationwide. Or, have an elevated permit system to own these weapons so a 21 year old with voices in his head are screened out.

Russell Scanlon

Sarcasm is about the only means remaining for citizens who want sane gun policy. . . But sure . . . A statewide ban, a national ban. Where do I sign up? Sorry. Waiting for a leader with a spine.

Khal Spencer

I was trying to be serious and yes, this subject makes for rhetorical trench warfare Sorry.

A license is a surer bet to withstand scrutiny. SCOTUS has only overruled the most egregious gun laws (D.C. in Heller, and the threat to go after NYC's transport law before it backed off). So Biden's idea of a license would almost certainly be Constitutional.

A ban would be challenged. Miller said "in common use at the time" or some such. Semiautos have been around since the 1800's and ARs for more than half a century and both are "in common use". I would expect a prolonged court battle now that Kavanaugh and Barrett are on the Court. They might be fine with it. Or not. But that's all conjecture.

Mike Johnson

"At the very least we could have respect for the deceased before we start pushing our agendas." Indeed, and it was a NY minute before Biden and the left wing Ds started promoting removing guns from society once again. This is curious, because in the Atlanta shootings they waited a few days to do that, while focusing on promoting their latest "Anti-Asian" hate agendas to pander to that identity politic.....but since the shooter here is "Asian" ( Syria is part of Asia, just as Korea is) and Muslim, they couldn't do that.....ah, politics in the age of PC.....

Russell Scanlon

First: No one supports “removing guns from society” and you know it. Second: The premise of a massive “anti Asian” hate agenda by a PC liberal media is a little bit of a stretch—but incidents of Anti-Asian hate crimes are indeed increasing most likely due to the cretin who occupied the White House for the previous four years. And Syrian people (do you even know any?) would probably bristle at being called “Asians”. Instead of imagining a vast conspiracy of dirty, filthy liberals just waiting to take away your precious firearms, you may want to consider that we had eight years of Obama and you still have plenty of pistols, rifles, semi-automatics, and ammo for your glorious uprising against the unwashed liberal hordes.

Mike Johnson

True, we have been very lucky so far to not have all our guns removed, even the large capacity magazine kinds. So Far. Obama couldn't do it, I doubt Biden can either, and with all the huge buying sprees during Obama's reign and after the election of Biden, most people already have as many guns of the varieties they want now. So a gun confiscation effort is all that is left, and that would surely fail, even if they banned the sale of certain guns. No problem. And BTW, I know plenty of Koreans, Chinese, and Vietnamese who bristle at being called the nondescript and sloppy language "Asian". Orwell said sloppy language leads to sloppy thinking, and "Asian" definitely qualifies as there are so many more specific ways to describe people's ethnic origins without offending them. I would hate to be called "European".....

Russell Scanlon

I really enjoy reading your comments and I respect your viewpoint, but honestly on this gun issue, your rhetoric is overwrought and riddled with falsehoods. Stopping the sale of semi-automatics is not “having all your guns removed”. You are promoting hysteria, paranoia, and escalating an already tragic and dangerous situation in my opinion.

Russell Scanlon

And please do a little research on the origins of the Syrian people before you strain your back trying to score political points.

Mike Johnson

As for Syrians: "Syrians emerged from various origins; the main influence came from ancient Semitic peoples, populations from Arabia and Mesopotamia, while Greco-Roman influence is marginal" Thus primarily Asian peoples, very little European influence, but I was actually talking about the commonly accepted definition of Asia, which geographically includes the present day Syria "Syria is located in Western Asia, north of the Arabian Peninsula, at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea." And Korea, for instance, is in East Asia. But both are in Asia. As for my gun hyperbole, I have found when communicating with people on political subjects, as gun control certainly is, hyperbole is a way to stake out a position that is distinct and recognizable, and then we can start to negotiate, discuss, and hopefully meet in the middle. I enjoy shooting semi-auto guns, because I am a bit lazy about reloading, but I also enjoy my bolt action and lever action ones for precise target shooting and honing your shooting skills for hunting. A semi-auto is really pretty unnecessary and unacceptable for hunting of course, and not good for precise target shooting either. And of course 2 shot shot guns (over under or side by side) are classic for trap, skeet, sporting clays, and bird hunting (including turkey, my favorite), semi-auto and pump are not necessary or even used very often.

Khal Spencer

My Syrian-Lebanese uncle sure didn't think of himself as Asian. Nor did anyone I knew in Hawaii consider themselves "Asian". Local Japanese, Local Chinese, Native Hawaiian, Kamaaina, Haole, Tongan, etc. People had a more nuanced view of themselves even if Mainland Haoles thought they all looked alike. Its only the one who is outside the box looking in that didn't know how to tell a local Chinese from a local Japanese. Or, consider the eejit who shot the Sikh in Arizona after 9-11 as he didn't know a Sikh turban from an Arabic Kaffiyeh. I had friends calling me asking if I was all right or being shot at.

All Americans should live in a multicultural place. First thing they would do is have a wakeup call when they meet a Chinese-American at the local range. Second thing they would do would be to fall in love with someone form another ethnic group or race.

Orwell does have a lot to say.

Khal Spencer

Russell, there are semiautos and semiautos. Google Remington Model 742 or Winchester Mod 100 or Browning Automatic Rifle (a misnomer for the hunting rifle) and then Bushmaster M4 or M16. One of the problems is people say "ban semiauto" which means most guns in America, whether designed for civilian or military purposes. Plus, all the guns where its a distinction without a difference, such as the Cold Gold Cup, a 45 cal semiauto pistol which is the match version of the old Colt M1911 military pistol of the last century.

Of course you get pushback.

Russell Scanlon

Khal I agree that willful cultural ignorance is indeed a huge problem in America. I hope we can make it to a day in the distant future where everyone has intermarried and the human race is a beautiful shade of mocha. But I’m also willing to bet we would still find something to argue about. And regardless of all the parsing about semi automatic weapons most people know the difference between hunting for doves and hunting for humans. And there are plenty to means to control the problem without the 24/7 hysteria of gun freaks. Peace.

Khal Spencer

Peace be with you too, Russell.

Khal Spencer

The overturn of the Boulder assault weapon ban is a red herring. The shooter didn't live in Boulder so it would not apply to him. And the idea that someone bent on mass murder would have been stopped by a city ordinance is kinda lame.

As far as Mr. Kiley's comment, the man doesn't know or care of the difference between semiautomatic civilian sporting guns and semiautomatic military style guns. For example, a Remington 740 deer rifle vs. an AR-15 rifle based on the M-16/M-4 battle rifle. Hence the lack of focus or credibility of these discussions.

The other issue is that Colorado has a red flag law. But unless someone red flags someone who is going off the rails, these laws are impotent. They need community buy-in. Too many families look at their quirky bretheren as harmless, even as they are talking to the voices in their heads and playing with newly purchased rifles that look like "machine guns".

Angel Ortiz

Facts are facts. Assault firearms need to be banned. Enough is enough. Continued abuse of the 2nd amendment. For all of you who love to toss out statistics. Try these:

Las Vegas. 2017. 58 deaths. Semi-automatic rifle.

Orlando nightclub. 2016. 49 deaths. Semi-automatic rifle.

Sandy Hook. 2012. 27 deaths. Semi-automatic rifle

Southerland Springs Church shooting. 2017. 26 deaths. Semi-automatic rifle.

El Paso Wal-Mart. 2019. 22 deaths. Semi-automatic rifle.

Stoneman Douglas HS Florida. 2018. 17 deaths. Semi-automatic rifle.

Columbine HS. 1999. 13 deaths. Semi-automatic rifle.

Aurora CO theater. 2012. 12 deaths. Semi-automatic rifle.

Khal Spencer

The Second Amendment is about being ready to serve in a well functioning militia. It would seem intuitively obvious that if that is the reason for the 2A, then a battlefield weapon is the best weapon to have to train with and be ready to serve. The 2A was not about shooting Bambi.

Khal Spencer

Of course as I have said before, no one wants someone in a "well regulated militia" who goes around shooting up schools or supermarkets. This can have a solution short of all or nothing.

Michael Grimler

Nothing but full and total confiscation would have come even close to preventing those tragedies.

It seems you are advocating for total confiscation of so-called "assault" rifles.

Good luck with that - because even if total confiscation of those firearms was accomplished, our land and sea borders are veritable sieves when it comes to control of ANYTHING crossing them.

What makes you think such confiscation would accomplish anything?

Lupe Molina

This comments section is a crime against decency. 21st century America will go down as modern history's greatest tragedy.

zach miller

seems like easy access to guns for people who find it acceptable to murder anyone who disagrees with their worldview is the problem. The cause of this behavior is not correctly pointing out when a person is a white nationalist and goes on a shooting spree because they view their ideas and race above all others, and when a shooter isn't white nationalist.

Khal Spencer

He wasn't white or a white nationalist. Next question?

Mike Johnson

Right, nor a white supremacist.......

Daniel Valdez

Turns out it wasn't a disgruntled american white male after all was it!?! The left wing democrat press is a joke!!

Mike Johnson

Agreed, the entire left wing press apparatus, including this paper, is now getting ready to ignore this story unless they can create some white supremacy/oppressed identity politics/oppressed minority angle to promote. And this satire is very accurate..."U.S.—According to media reports, there has been a mass shooting. As of now, it is unclear how bad the mass shooting is, or whether anyone should care about it-- since authorities have not yet released the skin colors of the perpetrator and the victims.""It's possible this could be a horrific mass shooting we will talk about for years to come," said one news anchor. "On the other hand, it may just be a run-of-the-mill mass shooting that we'll forget by tomorrow since it doesn't fit the narrative we are trying to sell right now. For the time being, please be sure to assume this shooting confirms all your most horrific biases about the state of our country. Stay tuned for more details-- unless we decide you don't really need to hear more details."

Michael Kiley

Nonsense. Semi-auto long guns are planned homicide, and with all handguns are useless. despite 300 million guns in civilian hands in the US, there are only about 300 defensive homicides from year to year That number is 6 per state each year. SIX.

Your chance of using a gun lethally in self-defense is 1/1,000,000. IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN.

If you kill someone with a gun, the chance is 90% that it will be yourself, a relative or a friend

Countries that have banned semi-automatic handguns and rifles, large magazines and pump-action shotguns, like Great Britain, have 60 gun deaths a year and one mayhem event in 15 years

Gun defenders claim from 80,000 to 2.5 million non-lethal "defensive gun uses" from a group of surveys that were all flawed by the self-report error and were small samples projected onto the entire country, the Harvard School of Public Health disproved these fanciful claims in a set of papers in peer-reviewed literature never retracted and found THERE IS NO VALID NUMBER FOR CLAIMED NON-LETHAL SELF-DEFENSIVE GUN USES, AND MOST WERE ACUTALLY PROVOCATIONS BY THE GUN TOTER FOLLOWED BY BRANDISHING

Mike Johnson

Tell it to your Congress reps, they can vote (and the ones from NM in all cases but one would take away all guns in a NY minute), the rest of us have no power in all this. But we can enjoy hunting and target shooting until they take all our guns away.......fat chance.

Richard Reinders

The gun didn't kill the people in Boulder a mentally deranged person did if it wasn't a gun it would be a truck or a propane bomb or or, the common thread that everyone ignores is a sane person does not go on shooting sprees regardless of what race they are. We have been ignoring the mentally ill for 30 plus years now and this is the consequence along with homelessness .

Angel Ortiz

The facts as we know them, without racial reference, 10 souls lost, one of them a police officer. The shooter used a weapon capable with powerful ammunition and high capacity magazines. It's time to stop allowing the public to own and purchase weapons like this. At present, you can do a Google search, locate an M-4 or an AR-15, and 30 round mags. It's senseless. Most people who panicked during the onset of the COVID outbreak last March went out and bought every weapon on the shelf. The issue here is how many of these jokers understand how to properly use and operate a weapon? Do they understand how to address the discharge of the weapon and the background of the target? Do they understand the difference between a hollow point round and a full metal jacket? I own multiple weapons and I have been trained but my weapon never leave my residence. Owning a gun comes with great responsibility. Too bad most of our country doesn't have that ability to comprehend.

Mike Johnson

The facts as we know them. All victims are white, shooter is Asian, since Asia stretches fro Saudi Arabia to Siberia, if Koreans can be Asians so can those of Saudi descent. But this can't be a hate crime, right?

Prince Michael Jauregui

Brother Mike, many years-ago, an elderly Pentecostal preacher taught me:

"Prince, when you tell The Truth, you gotta tell it all."

This was text-book Islamic Terrorism - whether he acted alone or conspired with others.

This is another indictment for the over-reaching, power-tripping, over-paid Federal agencies who spend endless resources and tax-dollars infringing on the rights of American citizens - while terrorists, domestic and foreign, commit heinous crime after crime. The Blood of We, The People is on their hands - and it cannot and will not go unanswered.

Mike Johnson

Agreed hermano. And isn't it curious how the press continues to mention the shooting of "Asians" last week in every article about this one. They are trying to connect them, but there is no connection, why are they doing it? How stupid do they think we are?

Prince Michael Jauregui

Of course, the Associated -Operation Mockingbird- Press is going to convolute the narrative. In conformance, with their benefactors.

Angel Ortiz

Not sure what your issue is with Asians but that is your personal issue and you can address it as you see fit. The following people are no longer with us. What would you say to their families. Keep in mind one victim was a LEO with 7 children:.

The dead ranged in age from 20 to 65. They were identified 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 Jodi Waters, 65.

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