The brother of a Colorado man who shot and killed 10 people at a Boulder grocery store on Monday described his sibling as deeply disturbed.
Police identified the grocery store gunman as 21-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, who was shot through the leg and taken into custody after officers arrived at the scene of the shooting.
Mr Alissa’s brother spoke with The Daily Beast, calling him “very anti-social” and paranoid.
“When he was having lunch with my sister in a restaurant, he said, ‘People are in the parking lot, they are looking for me,’” the brother, Ali Aliwi Alissa, 34, said. “She went out, and there was no one. We didn’t know what was going on in his head.”
He said his brother had previously been outgoing, but turned anti-social after he was subjected to bullying in high school. He does not believe his brother’s attack was a political statement of any kind.
“[It was] not at all a political statement, it’s mental illness,” he said. “The guy used to get bullied a lot in high school, he was like an outgoing kid but after he went to high school and got bullied a lot, he started becoming anti-social.”
According to CNN, the family emigrated to the US from Syria in 2002.
Mr Alissa’s brother said he was neither overtly political or religious, and that he was shocked by the killings.
“The entire thing surprised me,” he said. “I never ever would have thought he would do such a thing. I never thought he would kill. I still can’t believe it. I am really sad for the lives that he wasted, and I feel sorry for all those families ... We lost a brother even if he is the killer.”
The Denver Post discovered court records from 2017 detailing an incident in which Mr Alissa, then 18, attacked a classmate at his high school. According to the report, he punched his classmate in the head without warning, and after the boy fell to the ground, Mr Alissa continued to attack him. The classmate suffered cuts and bruises to his head, according to an affidavit from the case.
Mr Alissa was charged with third degree assault for the incident, and was sentenced to two months probation and 48 hours of community service.
The paper also spoke with some of Mr Alissa’s former wrestling teammates, who described him as short tempered and violent.
Dayton Marvel, a former teammate, said “he was kind of scary to be around” and recounted an incident in 2018 in which he had an outburst and threatened to kill people during an intra-team match.
“His senior year, during the wrestle-offs to see who makes varsity, he actually lost his match and quit the team and yelled out in the wrestling room that he was like going to kill everybody,” Mr Marvel said. “Nobody believed him. We were just all kind of freaked out by it, but nobody did anything about it.”
Another teammate, Angel Hernandez, said Mr Alissa got into a fistfight with another wrestler following the match after the wrestler teased him for losing.
Mr Marvel said Mr Alissa was frequently paranoid about people targeting him for harassment because he was Muslim.
“He would talk about him being Muslim and how if anybody tried anything, he would file a hate crime and say they were making it up,” Mr Marvel said. “It was a crazy deal. I just know he was a pretty cool kid until something made him mad, and then whatever made him mad, he went over the edge — way too far.”
Investigators have spoken to the shooter and said they were still collecting statements. They said he is from Arvada, Colorado, and has lived the majority of his life in the US.
A Facebook page belonging to an “Ahmad Al Issa” that has since been deleted said the owner was born in 1999 in Syria, and was a wrestler at Arvada West High School.
Posts on the social media page suggest the individual was very interested in martial arts. wrestling and kickboxing.
The owner of the page apparently studied computer engineering at Metropolitan State University of Denver. One post from 2019 simply read “#NeedAGirlfriend.”
In another post from when he was in high school, he expressed a belief that he was being stalked. He said he believed his targeting was “part racism for sure” but added “I also believe someone spread rumors about me which are false.”
The page was deleted within an hour of Mr Alissa being named the shooter.
The shooter has been charged with 10 counts of first degree murder, and has been checked into the Boulder County Jail after being treated for his wounds.
Investigators believe Mr Alissa acted alone.
Law enforcement officers conducted a search of Mr Alissa’s home, where they found other weapons, according to CNN.
According to a police affidavit, officers intercepted a woman leaving the house, who they determined was an extended family member. The woman had recently married one of Mr Alissa’s relatives, and told detectives that she saw the shooter playing with a “machine gun” inside the house two days prior.
According to The Associated Press, investigators believe the shooter purchased his gun, an AR-15-style pistol modified with an armbrace, six days before the attack.
Police have not yet identified a motive in the shooting.
“Regarding the suspect, at approximately 2:40 P.M. Monday, March 22, officers were dispatched to Kings Soopers. They arrived on the scene within minutes and immediately entered the store and engaged the suspect. There was an exchange of gunfire. The suspect was shot and a number of other officers were injured,” Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold said.
The police chief said her department was working with state and federal authorities to continue the investigation.
“We’re committed with state, local, and federal authorities for a thorough investigation and we’ll bring justice to each of these families,”
The victims of the King Sooper mass shooting in Colorado have also been identified by police.
10 victims were identified overnight by the Boulder County Coroner’s office. The victims of the shooting have been identified as:
Denny Stong, 20; Nevin Stanasic, 23; Rikki Olds, 25; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Teri Leiker, 51; Eric Talley, 51; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; Jody Waters, 65.
One of the victims, Boulder Police Department officer Eric Talley, was killed in the attack. He was the first officer on scene after the attack began.
Another victim was found in a car in the parking lot. The individual apparently was parked next to the shooter when he arrived.
Ms Herold said Mr Talley had seven children. “Our hearts go out to all the victims killed during this senseless act of violence,” Herold said.
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