The suspect, named as 21 year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, was charged with 10 counts of murder in the first degree, and faces his first appearance in court on Thursday.
Police told reporters that a motive is yet to be found for the shooting, which occurred six days after eight women were killed in three separate shootings in Atlanta, Georgia. Investigations could take a time, and are “complex”, according to police.
Eyewitnesses told the police that the suspect was clad in black and holding a rifle when he entered a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder around 3pm local time on Monday and opened fire on workers, shoppers, and the first police officer on the scene, Eric Talley.
Boulder police Chief Maris Herold said the deceased officer had been with the department since 2010, and was recently awarded for his contribution to to the force. The 51-year-old was the father of seven children between the ages of 5 and 18, Ms Herold added on Tuesday.
Nine others were also killed in the shooting, and on Tuesday were named 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.
According to the Denver Post, the shooting started in the parking lot of the store at 3600 Table Mesa Drive. A livestream video, taken by local videographer Dean Schiller who had just walked out of the store, showed what appeared to be a man wearing a King Soopers employee uniform saying the shooter was inside the store, the Post reported. “Then what sounded like two gunshots could be heard over the video.”
The affidavit said employees told 911 dispatchers that they "observed the suspect shoot an elderly man in the parking lot. The suspect then walked up to the elderly man, stood over him and shot him multiple additional times.”
“He just came in and started shooting without saying a word,” two customers, who had seen the gunman come into the store, told reporters. News reports quoted the anonymous customer saying that the gunman “let off a couple of shots, then was silent, and then he let off a couple more. He wasn’t spraying.”
Customers at the self-checkout at King Soopers told reporters what they saw as soon as the shots were heard. Panic spread and everyone started running. Some, the reports said, froze at the scene.
Soon law enforcement officers arrived at the scene of the mass shooting which is just two miles away from the University of Colorado’s campus, and “engaged” with the suspect. The 21-year-old was transported to hospital for a “through and through” gunshot wound to the right upper thigh after he was apprehended by officers.
Officers soon blocked off all the roads leading to the shopping centre where King Soopers is located. Officers arrived in fire trucks, ambulances, armoured vehicles, helicopters and regular police cars, reports said. Drones were also deployed at the scene of the shooting.
Several people who had been sheltering inside the store were escorted to safety by police officers on Monday afternoon.
The Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty, according to news reports, said that “This is a tragedy and a nightmare for Boulder County,” and that the FBI is helping investigate this senseless murder of ten, at the request of Boulder police.
On Tuesday, the suspect was transferred from hospital and booked in at Boulder County Jail, as accounts from family and friends emerged. His brother told The Daily Beast that the 21 year-old was “very anti-social” and paranoid. An arrest affidavit stated the suspect was from Arvada, Colorado, and had a Colorado driver’s license.
Police revealed that the suspect bought an assault weapon in the days before the shooting at King Soopers. As the Denver Post reported, the purchase was possible because a court overruled a ban on assault rifles by the city of Boulder on 12 March, in a case brought by the National Rifle Association and others.
Unfortunately, this is not the first mass shooting in Colorado. Mr Dougherty told reporters that he was “incredibly sorry” for all the victims who were killed in King Soopers. “These were people going about their day, doing their food shopping and their lives were cut abruptly and tragically short by the shooter who is now in custody.”
In a statement, former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a gun control advocate and mass shooting survivor herself, said that Monday’s shooting in Colorado was yet another reminder that “it is beyond time for our leaders to take action” to address gun control in the country.
Mr Dougherty, the district attorney, promised families of the victims that he will do everything he can “to get justice in this case,” as details of the deceased also emerged on Tuesday. The youngest victim of the shooting, Denny Strong, was employed at King Soopers, and had written on Facebook : "I can't stay home. I am a grocery store worker".
President Joe Biden on Tuesday called for Congress to take up gun reform legislation that would include banning “assault weapons and high-capacity magazines” following the events that took place in Boulder and Atlanta, Georgia, this past week.
“This is not and should not be a partisan issue,” Mr Biden said on Tuesday about gun reform. “This is an American issue. It will save lives, American lives. We have to act. And we should also ban assault weapons in the process.”
Colorado has a long history of mass shootings, including the horrific Columbine High School shooting in 1999. In 2012 a mass shooting occurred inside a movie theatre in Aurora during a midnight screening of the film The Dark Knight Rises.
The King Soopers shooting incident happened four years after shooter Scott Ostrem walked into a Walmart Supercentre in Thornton, Colorado, and fired seven shots. Ostrem was given three life sentences for the November 2017 shooting.
The last incident of mass shooting at a grocery store was at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, in 2019. Twenty-two people died and 26 were injured in the shooting.
A 2019 analysis by the Denver Post found that “Colorado had more mass shootings per capita than all but four states. The Census-designated Denver metropolitan statistical area had more school shootings per capita since 1999 than any of the country’s 24 other largest metro areas.”
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