PHOTO: Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa
By David K. Li | NBC News
The man suspected of gunning down 10 people at a Colorado supermarket purchased a high-powered weapon less than a week before the massacre, officials said Tuesday.
Suspect 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 morning press conference.
Alissa purchased a Ruger AR-556 on March 16, according to an arrest warrant affidavit, citing law enforcement data bases.
The court document did not explicitly identify the weapon used in Monday’s shooting, though witnesses described the killer using an AR-style weapon, the affidavit said.
When arresting police asked Alissa if 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 following the incident, according to police.
“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.”
And speaking from the White House, President Joe Biden mourned with the families of those killed.
“Ten lives have been lost and more families have been shattered by gun violence in the state of Colorado,” the president said. “Jill and I are devastated.”
Biden added: “Those poor folks who died left behind families with a big hole in the hearts.”
The president noted how the Boulder massacre came less than a week after eight people, including six women of Asian descent, were gunned down by a lone shooter 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 killed was 51-year-old Boulder police Officer Eric Talley, who had been the first officer to arrive at the King Soopers on Monday. A father of seven, he was an 11-year veteran of the Boulder police force.
Herold identified the other victims as Denny Strong, 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 while 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 allegedly parked next to a black Mercedes registered to Alissa’s brother, according to the affidavit.
The suspect lived in nearby Arvada, though authorities didn’t reveal much else about him. No motive was immediately known to investigators, authorities said.
Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty said no other suspect is being sought in the shooting.
“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 tragedy unfolded at a supermarket, one of the few “consistent gathering places” for Americans 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.
Aerial news footage later showed police escorting a man, whose right leg was covered in blood, in handcuffs. He wasn’t wearing a shirt or shoes.
Police on Tuesday did not immediately link that footage to the suspect.
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.
Then 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.