Police on Tuesday identified a 21-year-old man as the suspect in the killing of 10 people, including a Boulder police officer, at a Colorado supermarket. Authorities also identified nine victims after previously identifying the slain police officer as 51-year-old Eric Talley.
The dead ranged in age from 20 to 65, said Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold. Their names were: Denny Stong, 20; Neven Stanisic, 23; Rikky Olds, 25; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Teri Leiker, 51; Eric Talley, 51, Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; Jody Waters, 65.
"Today our city is grieving the senseless loss of 10 lives in our community," Mayor Sam Weaver said Tuesday. "A man with a gun monstrously struck them down."
The shooting Monday at a crowded supermarket sent terrorized shoppers and workers scrambling for safety and stunned a state that has grieved several mass killings.
Court documents showed that the suspect, identified as Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, purchased an assault rifle less than a week before the attack. Supermarket employees told investigators that the suspect shot an elderly man multiple times outside the King Soopers supermarket before going inside, according to the documents. Another person was found shot in a vehicle next to a car registered to the suspect’s brother. The documents did not say where the gun was purchased.
Herold said police engaged in a shootout with the suspect inside the supermarket and that is when Officer Talley was killed.
Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty said the suspect was being treated at a local hospital and would be booked into the Boulder County Jail later Tuesday on murder charges.
Investigators don’t know yet why the suspect opened fire inside the grocery store, Dougherty said. He said the investigation is in the early stages but that detectives believe the suspect was the only shooter, Dougherty said.
Alissa is a resident of Arvada, Colorado, and has "lived most of his life in the United States," Dougherty 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.
President Joe Biden, in his first remarks on the Boulder shooting, called on the Senate to take action on a pair of House-passed bills banning assault weapons and closing loopholes in the gun background check system.
"We can ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazine in this country once again," Biden said, referring to the assault weapons ban passed by Congress in 1994 when he was a senator. The law was repealed in 2004.
He said "as president, I’m going to use all the resources at my disposal to keep people safe."
Hundreds of police officers from throughout the Denver metropolitan area responded to the Monday afternoon attack, converging on the supermarket in a busy shopping plaza in southern Boulder. SWAT officers carrying ballistic shields slowly approached the store as others quickly escorted frightened people away from the building, some of its windows shattered. Customers and employees fled through a back loading dock to safety. Others took refuge in nearby shops.
Officer Talley was the first to arrive after responding to a call about shots fired and someone carrying a rifle, Herald said.
“He was by all accounts one of the outstanding officers of the Boulder Police Department, and his life was cut too short,” Dougherty said.
Dozens of police and emergency vehicles, their lights flashing, escorted an ambulance carrying the officer from the shooting scene after nightfall. Some residents stood along the route, their arms raised in salute. Talley had been with Boulder police since 2010.
"Every level of law enforcement is working together to make sure we can bring justice in this case," Gov. Jared Polis said. "That's exactly what Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley was doing when he lost his life in the line of duty. He was heroically trying to save others."
The attack in Boulder, about 25 miles northwest of Denver and home to the University of Colorado, stunned a state that has seen several mass shootings, including the 1999 Columbine High School massacre and the 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting.
President Biden noted that flags were still flying at half-staff from the last mass shooting on March 16 that left eight people dead at three Atlanta-area massage businesses when this one occurred.
Monday's midafternoon attack was the seventh mass killing this year in the U.S., according to a database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University.
It follows a lull in mass killings during the pandemic in 2020, which had the smallest number of such attacks in more than a decade, according to the database, which tracks mass killings defined as four or more dead, not including the shooter.
Rep. Joe Neguse, a Democrat whose district includes Boulder, said Tuesday “enough is enough” when it comes to political impasses that keep gun control laws from passing Congress.
"It does not have to be this way. Americans should be able to feel safe in their grocery stores, in their movie theaters, in their schools," Neguse said at Tuesday's news briefing.
Dean Schiller said he had just left the supermarket when he heard gunshots. He saw three people lying face down — one in a doorway and two in the parking lot. Schiller said he couldn’t tell if they were breathing.
Sarah Moonshadow and her son, Nicolas Edwards, had just bought strawberries when they heard gunfire. Moonshadow told The Denver Post they ducked and “just ran.” Outside, Edwards said, arriving police pulled up next to a body in the parking lot.
“I knew we couldn’t do anything for the guy,” he said. “We had to go.”
Video posted on YouTube showed one person on the floor inside the store and two more outside on the ground. What sounds like two gunshots are heard at the beginning of the video.
Matthew Kirsch, the acting U.S. attorney for Colorado, pledged that “the full weight of federal law enforcement” will support the investigation. He said investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were at the crime scene, along with FBI agents.
The King Soopers chain said in a statement that it was offering prayers and support “to our associates, customers, and the first responders who so bravely responded to this tragic situation."