10 killed in Colorado grocery store shooting

By Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes, Meg Wagner, Melissa Mahtani and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 9:58 PM ET, Tue March 23, 2021
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7:09 p.m. ET, March 23, 2021

Boulder suspect pleaded guilty to assault charge in 2018 after attacking a classmate

From CNN’s Casey Tolan and Bob Ortega

The suspect in the Boulder, Colorado, shooting pleaded guilty to third-degree assault approximately three years ago after attacking a high school classmate, according to court documents and a police report.

In February 2018, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa was charged with assault after allegedly attacking a classmate at Arvada West High School in the Denver suburb of Arvada.

The case stemmed from a November 2017 incident in which Alissa, then-18, “got up in [a] classroom, walked over to [the] victim & ‘cold-cocked’ him in the head,” according to a report from a police officer included in the case file. Alissa “got on top of [the victim] & punched him in [the] head several more times,” the report says, adding that the victim “had bruising, swelling & cuts to [the] head, as well as pain.”

The officer wrote, “No witnesses could see or hear any reason” for the attack, and that Alissa said that the victim “had made fun of him & called him racial names weeks earlier.”

Alissa, who is now 21, pleaded guilty in March 2018 and was sentenced to one year probation, 48 hours of community service, and “treatment to address response to anger,” according to the court documents.

6:58 p.m. ET, March 23, 2021

Colorado governor orders flags at half-staff for 10 days in honor of victims

From CNN’s Keith Allen

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis attends a press conference in Boulder, Colorado, on March 23.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis attends a press conference in Boulder, Colorado, on March 23.  Chet Strange/Getty Images

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis told CNN that his state is still stunned in the wake of yesterday’s shooting at King Soopers supermarket in Boulder.

“This is just where everybody goes to pick up groceries, right? We have a few big grocery stores in town, like in most towns across the country, people go buy groceries,” Polis told CNN's Pamela Brown on the "The Situation Room" Tuesday. “Never ever does it cross your mind that that trip to the grocery store could be your last moments on earth. I think all of us are going to have those little flutters in our hearts as we go shopping next time, just recognizing what happened here in Boulder.”

The governor said he ordered flags throughout the state to be flown at half-staff for 10 days to honor the 10 victims in Monday’s shooting. He said he will speak with the families of the victims “when they’re ready to take the call.”

Polis also said he spoke with President Biden today after the President called for a ban on assault weapons and for Congress to pass two-gun control measures.

“We had a good conversation,” the governor said. “He expressed his condolences, He's seen a lot of loss in his life, including, of course, his son and his wife, and so many others. He's no stranger to loss.”

“He gave some comforting words to Colorado. To me, I think there will be a broad discussion about the policy side,” Polis continued. “We have, for instance, universal background checks in Colorado, but some of our neighboring states don't. I know Congress is looking at closing that loophole.”

“For now, we're really trying to do our best to comfort the families, the friends of the 10 people who are no longer with us,” he added.

 

6:46 p.m. ET, March 23, 2021

Memorial grows outside Boulder grocery store

From CNN's Keith Allen

A memorial is forming outside the King Soopers supermarket in Boulder, Colorado, Tuesday afternoon, near where 10 people were shot and killed a day before.

People gathered near the store to leave flowers, notes and crosses in tribute to the victims.

A mourner leaves flowers at a makeshift memorial outside of King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, on March 23.
A mourner leaves flowers at a makeshift memorial outside of King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, on March 23. Chet Strange/Getty Images

Crosses bearing the names of the shooting victims hang from a fence.
Crosses bearing the names of the shooting victims hang from a fence. Jason Connolly/AFP/Getty Images

A person pays their respects at the memorial outside of King Soopers.
A person pays their respects at the memorial outside of King Soopers. Kevin Mohatt/Reuters

A note left on a bouquet of flowers reads "with all of our love."
A note left on a bouquet of flowers reads "with all of our love." Chet Strange/Getty Images

6:08 p.m. ET, March 23, 2021

Denver Nuggets coach names victims of Boulder shooting during pregame session

From CNN's Jill Martin

Mike Malone, head coach of the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, opened his Tuesday pregame media session by naming the victims of the Boulder shooting, breaking down into tears after doing so.

“I think we’re all tired of it. I think that’s an understatement,” a visibly distraught Malone said. He went on to continue and once again was driven to tears, pausing intermittently, saying, “We get judged on wins and losses. I apologize. We get judged on wins and losses, but if you take a step back and you put yourself in one of those families, what do you feel?”

Malone fought through his emotions and spoke further about Eric Talley, the Boulder police officer who was killed in the shooting.

“I think about Eric Talley and his seven kids,” Malone said. “That’s what I think about. I’m just heartbroken for them and everybody else. Hopefully we as a country, we as a state can find a way to be better.”

The Nuggets are in Orlando and will play the Orlando Magic at 7 p.m. ET.

4:51 p.m. ET, March 23, 2021

Gun reforms need to be strengthened at the state and federal level, Boulder mayor says

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

CNN
CNN

Boulder Mayor Sam Weaver said that gun reform measures should be strengthened at the state and federal level after a mass shooting left 10 dead at a supermarket in his Colorado city. 

“The real message is cities can't handle this problem. The rules need to come from the state and the federal level, so what I'll be sharing with the President — if I speak to him — is that we would really appreciate his support. And the interview he gave today indicates that he's with us and we really need everyone to make their voices heard at this time,” he told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

Earlier, President Biden called on Congress to pass an assault weapons ban and tighten background checks.

The mayor said an assault weapons ban was passed in the city in 2018, but earlier this month, a Colorado district court judge blocked the city from enforcing its ban. Weaver added, “I'm not certain that if the ban had not been overturned that this killer would have made any different choices.” 

While there are background checks and other measures in place in the state, “the results of yesterday's shooting show us that they are not strong enough,” Weaver said.  

“I don't think they are sufficient, and they certainly weren't sufficient to prevent yesterday's tragedy,” Weaver said. 

“The only positive thing to come out of this will be that our community will bond together and work through our pain, and then we'll look to the future and see if there are ways to prevent this from ever happening to another community,” he added.

Watch:

4:34 p.m. ET, March 23, 2021

Two shooting victims were Boulder Valley School District graduates

From CNN’s Keith Allen and Jennifer Feldman

Two of the victims in Monday’s mass shooting at King Soopers supermarket were recent graduates of area high schools, according to a statement from Boulder Valley School District Superintendent Rob Anderson.

Denny Stong was a 2019 graduate of Fairview High School and Rikki Olds was a 2013 graduate of Centaurus High School, Anderson said in a statement Tuesday.

“Several of the other victims were parents of our graduates and given the fact that this is a close-knit community, there will likely be many other connections to BVSD schools both amongst those who were killed and other victims,” Anderson said.

“While we cannot fathom what would cause such an evil, we know that many in our community acted bravely when faced with unspeakable violence.”
4:44 p.m. ET, March 23, 2021

Suspect made homophobic posts on Facebook and expressed belief former high school hacked his phone

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy, Nadeem Muaddi, Blake Ellis, Artemis Moshtaghian and Donie O'Sullivan

A now-removed Facebook profile is shedding more light on the Colorado shooting suspect, 21-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa. 

A high school classmate, and Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa's brother Ali Aliwi Alissa, confirmed to CNN the Facebook page’s authenticity. A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to CNN the company had removed Facebook and Instagram accounts belonging to the suspect.

In a number of Facebook posts, the shooting suspect made homophobic remarks and in two posts, even used anti-gay slurs.  

He also claimed to believe that his former high school had been hacking into his phone. 

"Just curious what are the laws about phone privacy because I believe my old school (a west) was hacking my phone," the suspect wrote in a March 18, 2019 Facebook post.  

He made a second post on July 5, 2019, also claiming that "racist islamophobic people" were hacking his phone, saying, "let me have a normal life I probably could."   

When questioned about it by his Facebook friends about how he believed that the school was hacking his phone, Alissa responded, "I believe part racism for sure. But I also believe someone spread rumors about me which are false and maybe that set it off."  

The profile claims that Alissa attended Arvada West High School; Jefferson County Public Schools spokesperson Cameron Bell confirms he was a student there from March 2015 until he graduated in May 2018.  

Bell did not immediately respond with a comment on Alissa's Facebook post.

That post comes in light of what his brother also told CNN, namely that he believes the suspect may have suffered from mental illness and that around 2014, Alissa felt he was being followed and chased and became increasingly “paranoid."  

At one point, his brother remembers Alissa even placed duct-tape over the camera on his computer to block anyone he believed to be following him, he said.

“He always suspected someone was behind him, someone was chasing him,” Ali Alissa said. “We kept a close eye on him when he was in high school. He would say, ‘someone is chasing me, someone is investigating me,’ and we’re like, ‘come on man, there’s nothing.’ … He was just closing into himself.” 

Alissa also posted videos of him purportedly wrestling in high school. He occasionally made posts about his Muslim faith.

"Born in Syria 1999 came to the USA in 2002," Alissa wrote in his profile description. "I like wrestling and informational documentaries."  

In 2015, like many Facebook users, he changed his profile picture to the French flag in the wake of the terrorist attacks at a musical venue in Paris. He also shared a post from another Facebook user about Islamophobia in the aftermath of the April 2019 Christchurch, New Zealand mosque shootings.

"The Muslims at the #christchurch mosque were not the victims of a single shooter," the shared post read. "They were the victims of the entire Islamophobia industry that villified [sic] them."

4:09 p.m. ET, March 23, 2021

Schumer say's he'll bring House-passed background check bills for Senate vote, but doesn't offer timeline

From CNN's Jessica Dean and Ali Zaslav

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks during a news conference on Tuesday.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks during a news conference on Tuesday. Erin Scott/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer declined to comment on Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin’s opposition to the House-passed gun background check bills, when asked by CNN’s Jessica Dean.

Schumer said he’s going to meet with Sen. Chris Murphy, who is sponsoring the Background Check Expansion Act, and other Democrats and they’ll figure out “the best way to move forward” on gun reform legislation.

Biden pressed the Senate earlier today to take up the gun legislation that the House has passed in the wake of a mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, that killed 10 people at a grocery store. 

The New York Democrat also sidestepped CNN’s question on whether Democrats would consider a narrower piece of legislation on background checks, like Manchin-Toomey, at his weekly policy presser on Tuesday.

Schumer noted that he will bring both the House-passed background check bills to the floor for a vote. He would not, however, nail down a timeline for when he’d bring them to the Senate floor, pointing to how “there’s a whole lot of things that we want to do” like confirming nominees, confirming judges, a China bill, among many others.

Schumer also said that flags at the US Capitol are being lowered to half-staff today to honor the victims of the horrific shooting in Colorado.

2:43 p.m. ET, March 23, 2021

Suspected shooter left victims in the parking lot and inside the grocery store, arrest warrant says

From CNN's Konstantin Toropin

Police respond to the scene of a mass shooting at a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, on March 22. 
Police respond to the scene of a mass shooting at a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, on March 22.  Chet Strange/Getty Images

Authorities have released the arrest warrant for Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 21, who is the suspect in yesterday's mass shooting at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado.

The document, released by Boulder County officials, provides new details about the shooting that left 10 dead.

The document describes Alissa as being armed with either an assault rifle or "black AR-15" and wearing a "tactical" or "armored" vest. The 10 victims were "were located in the store and in the parking lot of the business, including a deceased party in a vehicle in the parking lot."  

The "deceased party" was in a vehicle parked next to a car that officers believe belongs to Alissa's brother.

"A green rifle case was observed in the front passenger compartment," the affidavit added.

The document described how "employees observed the suspect shoot an elderly man in the parking lot."

"The suspect then walked up to the elderly man, stood over him and shot him multiple additional times," it added.

Although the full chronology of the shooting is still unclear, the document describes SWAT officers making entry into the supermarket and responding to a downed officer, Eric Talley.

"Officer Talley was obviously deceased from a bullet wound to the head," the affidavit says. 

Shortly after that, the affidavit says an officer "heard SWAT Operators in voice contact with someone."

That person turned out to be Alissa "walking backward to the SWAT Team to be taken into custody."

"Alissa had removed all of his clothing and was dressed only in shorts," the affidavit adds. 

After Alissa was walked out of the store, he wouldn't tell officers if there were other suspects.

"The suspect did not answer questions, though he asked to speak to his mother," the document says.

The affidavit says that Alissa's items that he "removed on scene included a green tactical vest, a rifle (possible AR-15), a semiautomatic handgun, a pair of jeans and a dark colored long-sleeved shirt."

The affidavit says that "using law enforcement databases, investigators determined that Alissa had purchased a Ruger AR556 pistol on March 16, 2021."

Alissa faces 10 charges of murder in the first degree and one charge of attempted murder, according to the warrant.