US & World

Boulder Shooting: Police Identify Suspected Gunman, Say He's Facing 10 Murder Charges

Health care workers walk out of a King Soopers grocery store after a gunman opened fire Monday in Boulder, Colo.
Health care workers walk out of a King Soopers grocery store after a gunman opened fire Monday in Boulder, Colo.
Chet Strange/Getty Images

Updated March 23, 2021 at 12:55 PM ET

Police in Boulder, Colo., have identified the suspect in Monday's shooting rampage at a grocery store as Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 21. Ten people died in the shooting, including a Boulder police officer who had arrived to help those inside the store. The victims range in age from 20 to 65 years old.

Alissa has been charged with 10 counts of murder in the first degree, Boulder police said.

"Our hearts go out to all the victims of this senseless act of violence," said Boulder police Chief Maris Herold.

All of the victims have now been identified, and their families have been notified, Herold said at a news conference Tuesday morning. She then read out the list of the victims:

Denny Strong, 20;
Nevin Stanisic, 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.

"Not only did we lose 10 lives, but this is a real horror and terror for all of us," Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said.

The suspect is from Arvada, a small city between Denver and Boulder. He was wounded during the shooting and was expected to be released from the hospital and sent to the county jail sometime Tuesday, Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty said.

Herold said the suspect's injury was a "through-and-through" wound to his leg.

Ben Markus of Colorado Public Radio reported that Alissa has a police record, having been arrested on a misdemeanor assault charge in 2018. He pleaded guilty and paid a fine to resolve that case, according to court records.

An "extensive investigation" is now under way into Alissa's life, Dougherty said. He added that the suspect has "lived most of his life in the United States," but he did not elaborate on the suspect's history.

The arrest warrant affidavit for Alissa says he purchased a gun less than a week before Monday's shooting, citing official databases that show the suspect bought a Ruger AR- 556.

The weapon is legally classified as a "pistol" in the U.S., but many people would likely consider it to be a rifle, with a short barrel and a minimal shoulder brace. The gun shares the same lower receiver – the portion that holds the trigger – with the AR-15 that has been used in many other mass shootings.

Polis, who is from Boulder, noted that he has shopped at the same store where the violence erupted Monday. Herold later added that she lives about three blocks from the store.

"I feel numb," she said, describing the pain of talking with people from the community about the deaths.

"You're worried about your neighbors, you're worried about your partner, you're worried about everything when you get that call," Herold said, describing her personal reaction to the shooting. "I feel numb and it's heartbreaking. It's heartbreaking to talk to victims, their families. And it's tragic."

Speaking about the slain officer, Herold said that just weeks ago, she had Talley and his family in her office so she could present an award. The commendation, she explained, was for one of his sons who had saved another boy's life by performing CPR.

"He loved this community," the chief said of Talley, saying that he represented everything her police department needs.

"Flags had barely been raised back to full mast" following last week's shooting spree in Atlanta-area massage spas when the violence broke out in Boulder, Polis said.

The FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and other federal agencies are helping to investigate, mainly by processing evidence at the crime scene and conducting interviews with witnesses, said Michael H. Schneider, FBI special agent in charge. He added that the effort is ongoing to determine what could have motivated the attack.

The first reports of shots fired at the King Soopers grocery store reached the Boulder Police Department around 2:30 p.m. local time Monday, Herold said that evening. She provided more details on Tuesday, saying that with a "barrage" of calls coming in, officers were dispatched around 2:40 p.m. and arrived within minutes.

The officers "immediately entered the store and engaged the suspect," the police department said in a news release. "There was an exchange of gunfire during which the suspect was shot. No other officers were injured. The suspect was then taken into custody at 3:28 p.m." and taken to a hospital, the agency said.

In the wake of the shooting, other state and local agencies offered to handle service calls for the Boulder police, Herold said. But she added that while her department appreciated the gesture, it declined the offers.

"None of my officers wanted to do that," Herold said. "So we partnered them up and they want to be out with the community."

When the chief was asked what she's telling her officers now, Herold said, "I tell them that I'm sorry, we're going to get through this. Don't lose your compassion, and we'll get through this. And we'll come out of it stronger."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.