911 calls paint picture of chaos, horror during Boulder shooting


BOULDER | The suspect accused of opening fire inside a crowded Boulder supermarket was a 21-year-old man who purchased an assault weapon less than a week earlier, authorities said Tuesday, a day after the attack that killed 10 people, including a police officer.

Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa bought the weapon on March 16, just six days before the attack at a King Soopers store in Boulder, according to an arrest affidavit. It was not immediately known where the gun was purchased.

Alissa, who is from tArvada, was booked into the county jail Tuesday on murder charges after being treated at a hospital. He was due to make a first court appearance Thursday.

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

Boulder shooting victims included store workers, officer

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.

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 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.

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

The gunfire sent terrorized shoppers and employees scrambling for cover. SWAT officers carrying ballistic shields slowly approached the 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.

No one answered the door at the Arvada home believed to be owned by the suspect’s father. The two-story house with a three-car garage sits in a relatively new middle- and upper-class neighborhood.

A Facebook post from Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa.The page has since been removed by Facebook.

When he was a high school senior in 2018, Alissa was found guilty of assaulting a fellow student in class after knocking him to the floor, then climbing on top of him and punching him in the head several times, according to a police affidavit.

Alissa “got up in classroom, walked over to the victim & ‘cold cocked’ him in the head,” the affidavit read. Alissa complained that the student had made fun of him and called him “racial names” weeks earlier, according to the affidavit. He was sentenced to probation and community service.

Arvada police Detective David Snelling said officers investigated but dropped a separate criminal mischief complaint involving the suspect in 2018 and cited him for speeding in February. “Our community is obviously concerned and upset that the suspect lived here,” he said.

“We’d absolutely prefer not to have publicity we’re getting here,” said Matt Benz, who lives several houses away from the home that was searched overnight. He said dozens of FBI agents wearing night-vision goggles swarmed the area using a bullhorn to order everyone out of the home and interviewing the home’s occupants.

The slain officer was identified 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, former co-worker Jordan Sailas said.

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 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 AP, 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.

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Maria Todd
1 year ago

So sad to learn of this tragedy. Prayers of comfort and healing to the friends and families

1 year ago

The Democrat controlled Colorado legislature removed the death penalty. This shooter will face the same penalty as a serial bank robber who killed no people. The same legislators removed qualified immunity from police officers who will no longer police with the same level. They also removed police officers from schools and vowed to defund law enforcement. That means less tools to prevent these shootings.

1 year ago
Reply to  Jake

Jake, this story was about a mass murder. Last year the US broke a record, with 40,000 people killed with firearms. Your ‘whataboutism’ has nothing to do with our ongoing gun violence epidemic, which has been in existence long before any of these mentioned legislative acts took place.

How about some critical thinking instead of your knee-jerk politicization of this tragedy?

No more thoughts and prayers without action to reduce gun violence.

1 year ago
Reply to  denver_dad

So just allow cops to be only ones with guns ? Bad guys will get guns regardless . Doesnt take much to make a gun or a bomb. If you think by creating some laws that it would prevent this u are wrong. Thats not very wise. We need more armed civilians to protect innocent civilians . Plain and simple

Susan Patsicostas
1 year ago
Reply to  Jake

The death penalty is not a deterrent. Banning assault weapons and making mental health treatment more assessable is. It sounds like the shooter may have had paranoid schizophrenia. He was most likely psychotic

1 year ago

My heart hurts for those whose loved ones were murdered yesterday. Praying for them much. May The LORD comfort them & draw them close. 🙏🙏🙏

1 year ago

It is certainly a tragedy, but it speaks to a bigger problem of the real why- after you peal back motives. The main stream media CNN and MSBC was quick to do their drive by reporting… A 21 year old white man kill 10. Now what we need the country to digest is not the race issues when there is none. We seem to have a fascination with being a “caring” person … we pick up signs to protest and we quickly jump to conclusions. Hate crimes against blacks, Asians, and King Sooper shoppers… It goes deeper. We are mean, we taunt kids in school for being different in any way. We think we can address the issue by removing bias in children’s books, by shaming antebellum parties by “burning books” that talk about the history of this country. We need to teach acceptance and recognition of the differences. Aurora is among some of the most diverse. I personally find it interesting and fun to celebrate other cultures. We are going to have alot more of that as immigrants (legal and otherwise) FLOOD into colo and Aurora. If you try to play a blame game… I am a victim you are a …… fill in the blank, we are forcing differences to be pointed out. And that means we target differences as bad. Kids are being taught being a Democrat is good/bad and so is the other side in converse. Where is the America of Justice and equality for all??? Gone. Schools think by making 2 plus 2 equal anything the kid answers makes us smart? No it makes us fools, and will lead to more ignorance. Just ask a high school student to make change… without their smart phone! New immigrants come into a country they know little about and learn a “made up history of prejudice” (now we can always do better)- and this gives them a picture of what “America the home of a mix of people” is? No it says TEAR IT DOWN. First learn, appreciate and THEN change. If you just tear it down no one is going to stand up to defend it, and ultimately we will have NOTHING worth being an American for!

1 year ago

All that was needed was a few armed men in vicinity . Body count wouldnt be 10. Makes me sick to my stomach how we strip could be heros of weapons and allow these guys to do this stuff. I say hand more weapons out and they will thinks twice . When people know %75 of people around them are armed this wouldnt happen like it does