Suspect in Boulder supermarket massacre was "paranoid", brother says
Authorities on Tuesday identified the suspect in the shooting deaths of 10 people at a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder as Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, a 21-year-old with a history of violence whose brother said was deeply disturbed. Alissa, who is from Arvada, has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder for the mass shooting. He was taken into custody after being shot during apprehension. Ali Aliwi Alissa, the suspect’s 34-year-old brother, told The Daily Beast that authorities searched his house all night after the shooting.
Alissa said his brother was “very anti-social” and paranoid, adding that, in high school, he would describe “being chased, someone is behind him, someone is looking for him.”
“When he was having lunch with my sister in a restaurant, he said, ‘People are in the parking lot, they are looking for me.’ She went out, and there was no one. We didn’t know what was going on in his head,” Alissa said, admitting that he believes his brother is mentally ill.
Police said when Alissa was taken into custody on Monday afternoon, he had a leg injury. Footage from the scene showed him being taken out of the store, shirtless and with no shoes on, and with blood covering his leg. He is now in stable condition and expected to be taken to Boulder County Jail this afternoon.
The suspect’s brother said he traveled to another King Sooper’s location after work on Monday to look for a third sibling who had run an errand and couldn’t be reached. He found that relative in police custody.
“I went to King Sooper that is close to our house to see if they are there, and then I saw a police car,” he said. “And then as I got closer to the police car, I saw my [other] brother was detained in the police car. That was 9:30 at night.”
Ali Aliwi Alissa went on to say he and more family members were detained by police.
“I learned that [Ahmad] is a suspect after coming from work,” Ali Aliwi Alissa told The Daily Beast, describing how he could not reach his siblings Monday afternoon.
Alissa’s family house sits on the edge of a quiet cul-de-sac lined with two-story homes and a mix of Aspens, evergreens, basketball hoops, and bird feeders. Multiple generations of the family call this house, with solar panels on the roof and a flagstaff path leading to the backyard, their home.
On Tuesday morning, a woman who identified herself as an older sister answered the door of the family house. She said she was shocked, and the family never suspected their brother capable of committing this act of violence. “We’re shocked. He is nice, a quiet brother,” the 30-year-old told The Daily Beast, declining to give her name.
On a now-deleted Facebook page, Alissa described himself as a student interested in “computer engineering/ computer science.... kickboxing.” Posts about mixed martial arts, especially jiu jitsu, dominated the page. Alissa sometimes posted about Islam, often about prayer or holidays.
In one post, however, he appeared to express fears that someone was targeting his phone for Islamophobic reasons.
“Yeah if these racist islamophobic people would stop hacking my phone and let me have a normal life I probably could,” he posted in July 2019.
On Facebook, his politics appeared mixed throughout several camps. He shared an article rebuking Donald Trump’s stance on immigration, but also posted about his own opposition to gay marriage and abortion.
Authorities have not released a motive behind the grisly murders, saying the investigation was still in its preliminary stages and “it is premature for us to draw any conclusions at this point in time.”
“I can tell you the community is safe and we will continue to share updates as we conduct our investigation and draw conclusions as a result of that investigation” FBI special agent Michael Schneider said.
According to the suspect’s brother, the motivation may not have been a political one.
“[It was] not at all a political statement, it’s mental illness,” Ali Aliwi Alissa 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.”
Court records show Alissa has at least one previous run-in with the law, including one arrest after “cold cocking” a classmate in 2017. According to court documents first obtained by KDVR, Alissa punched a classmate in the head after he “had made fun of him and called him racial names weeks earlier.”
The victim suffered bruising, swelling, and cuts to the head. Alissa pleaded guilty to an assault charge in relation to the incident in 2018.
An employee at Arvada West High School told The Daily Beast that Alissa had transferred into the school midway through his freshman year, and graduated in 2018.
The brother noted the family have been in Colorado for almost 20 years, and that they are “so sorry” for the victims.
The Boulder Police Department also released the names of those ten people killed Monday, whose ages range from 65 to 20.
They include Denny Stong, 20; Neven Stanisic, 23; Rikki Olds, 25; Tralona Bartkowika, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Teri Leiker, 51; Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley, 51; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; Jody Waters, 65.
“I wish I could stand here and promise that pain will heal quickly," Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said during a Tuesday press conference. “But it won’t... At times like this, it’s hard to see the light that shines through the darkness.”
“Not only did we lose ten lives, this is real horror and terror,” he added.
Lori Olds, Ricki Olds’ aunt, wrote on Facebook on Tuesday: “We lost our beloved Rikki Olds to the monster who shot up the king soopers in Boulder CO yesterday may his rotten ass fry and burn in hell.”
Reports of a shooting at the store on Table Mesa Drive came in just before 3 p.m. local time on Monday, officials said. Several witnesses described scenes of terror inside the supermarket, as customers and workers ran for cover after hearing a series of loud bangs or seeing the attacker gun people down.
Sarah Moonshadow, a 42-year-old south Boulder resident, was buying strawberries with her 21-year-old son when the gunfire erupted.
“He shot right at us. I didn’t look. I just ran,” she told The Daily Beast on Monday.
Another witness told The Denver Post the gunman “didn’t say shit” before he began shooting. “He just came in and started shooting,” the witness said. After the gunman “let off a couple of shots” he “was silent, and then he let off a couple more. He wasn’t spraying,” a third witness said.
The events in Boulder marked the second major mass shooting in a week, coming just days after a gunman shot up three massage parlors in the metro Atlanta area, killing eight people, six of them Asian women.
Colorado has also been the scene of some of the nation’s worst mass shootings after the 1999 Columbine High School massacre that left 13 people dead. In 2012, an attack at an Aurora movie theater left 12 dead.
The suspect accused of opening fire inside a crowded Colorado supermarket was a 21-year-old man who allegedly purchased an assault weapon less than a week earlier, it has emerged. Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa bought the weapon on 16 March, six days before the attack at a King Soopers store in Boulder that killed 10 people, including a police officer, according to an arrest affidavit. It was not immediately known where the gun was purchased.
In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Cruz talked about the ways the United States could prevent shootings like the ones seen in Atlanta and Boulder, Colo., that occurred almost one week apart. The Texas senator said that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has a "long" and "indefensible" practice of not "prosecuting felons and fugitives" who try to illegally purchase firearms.
President Biden on Tuesday called on Congress to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and to close loopholes in the background check system after a gunman killed 10 people at a grocery store in Boulder, Colo. “I don’t need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common sense steps that will save lives in the future and to urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to act,” Biden said in remarks at the White House following Monday’s shooting. “We can ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country once again. I got that done when I was a senator. … We should do it again.”
As the mass shooting that left ten people dead was still unfolding Monday afternoon in Boulder, Colorado, the incident was playing out live on YouTube to an audience of 30,000 people. The livestreamer, Dean Schiller, had left King Soopers supermarket on Table Mesa Drive just before the shooting began. When he heard the first shots fired, he turned on his phone and began to record. More than three hours later, Schiller, who describes himself as a citizen journalist and operates the ZFG Videographer YouTube channel, finally stopped recording.