Boulder shooting: Motive haunting investigators; police confirm suspect used AR-15-style pistol

Authorities on Friday said they are still investigating why a Colorado man drove 20 miles from his house and fatally shot 10 people at a Boulder supermarket Monday, but a motive has so far eluded more than two dozen law enforcement agencies.

“Like the rest of the community, we too want to know why. Why the King Soopers Why Boulder? Why Monday?” Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold said in a press conference Friday. “It’ll be something haunting for all of us until we figure that out. Sometimes you just don’t figure these things out, but I am hoping that we will.”

Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, a 21-year-old resident of the Denver suburb of Arvada, faces 10 counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder in the first degree. He was ordered held without bail Thursday, pending an assessment “to address his mental illness.”

Twenty-six law enforcement agencies have been working around the clock to determine a timeline of events leading up to Monday’s shooting, Herold said. Officers have collectivelyworked more than 3,000 hours on the investigation and are still parsing through the “complex” crime scene, she said.

“Picture a supermarket,” said District Attorney Michael Dougherty. “Picture all the shelves, all the products everything. They’re going through every single shelf, pulling everything off the shelf, looking at the walls. And that’s going to continue throughout the weekend.”

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One officer who fired at the suspect was on administrative leave, per department protocol for officer-involved shootings, Herold said. None of the victims were hit by shots fired by police, she said.

Asked if terrorism was a possible motive, Dougherty said “it’s still very early in the investigation.” Investigations “are doing a deep dive into the offender’s background, as well as the background of everybody involved in this incident. At this point, we don’t have any particular information to share in that regard,” he said.

Police also confirmed Friday the suspect used a semiautomatic Ruger AR-556 pistol in the shooting that he legally purchased from a gun store in Arvada days before the attack. The gun looks and operates like a rifle, but it’s smaller, more maneuverable and easily concealable, according to experts. It also isn’t bound by the strict regulations that a rifle of its size would.

The man was also in possession of a 9mm handgun, but police said they did not believe the gun was used in the shooting. Officers were investigating whether “other firearms might be connected” to the suspect, Dougherty said.

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In court Thursday, the man appeared wearing a mask and jail scrubs and sitting in a wheelchair. A judge approved defense lawyer Kathryn Herold’s request that the next hearing be delayed for at least two months to allow for a mental health assessment.

The man didn’t speak, other than to say “yes” when asked by the judge whether he understood the charges against him. He could face a maximum penalty of life in prison without parole if convicted. Colorado abolished the death penalty a year ago. 

Witnesses to the shooting Monday said a gunman opened fire outside, hitting at least one person, before entering the store. Chaos ensued as customers and employees raced for cover amid the barrage of bullets.

Eric Talley, the first Boulder police officer to respond to the frantic 911 calls, was fatally shot. The gunman was shot in the leg and taken from the scene via ambulance. He was hospitalized overnight before being booked into county jail.

The Boulder victims were identified as Talley, 51; 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.

Contributing: John Bacon, Trevor Hughes, Elinor Aspergen

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