10 killed in Colorado grocery store shooting

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

Updated 2:24 AM ET, Thu March 25, 2021
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5:03 p.m. ET, March 24, 2021

FBI examining Boulder suspect’s online activity, interviews with friends

From CNN’s Evan Perez

A law enforcement official provided clues into federal investigators’ early involvement in the Boulder mass shooing case, saying the FBI continues to look at everything from the suspect’s online activity to interviews with friends and relatives to understand his motivation.

The official told CNN that federal investigators are aware of friends who say Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa had grievances over his perception of how Muslims were treated; but they caution it is still a complicated picture they’re trying to better understand. 

The official said Alissa was not previously the subject of any FBI investigation and says it appears nothing in the federal system would have prohibited Alissa from buying a firearm.

1:29 p.m. ET, March 24, 2021

White House says there are ongoing "executive actions under consideration" on gun policy

From CNN's Betsy Klein and Kevin Liptak

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki talks with reporters in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on March 24 in Washington, DC.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki talks with reporters in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on March 24 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said there is an “ongoing policy process internally” on the possibility of executive actions on guns, but did not provide many specific details. 

“The vice president touched on the fact that we want something to be permanent. If we want it to be lasting, we need to do legislation, he (Biden) certainly believes that, but there are also executive actions under consideration that we will continue working through internally. And there's lots of levers, you can take, obviously, as President,” she said. 

Psaki said analysis has “been ongoing for several weeks,” before tragedies in Atlanta and in Boulder. 

President Biden would like to address gun access, as well as addressing community violence and other root causes, she said. 

As for congressional action, Psaki reiterated the White House would like to see the Senate take action on House-passed legislation on background checks, a topic on which she noted has wide public support. 

So far, a few pieces of potential action have emerged:

  • Requiring background checks on “ghost guns,” which are handmade or self-assembled firearms that don’t have serial numbers. The action would officially classify them as firearms, therefore requiring a background check.
  • Strengthening the federal background check system to alert law enforcement agencies when someone fails a check. Advocates for this step say it could potentially flag troubled or criminal individuals who are trying to access weapons.
  • Fulfilling a campaign pledge to send $900 million for community programs meant to combat violence.
  • Providing a better and more expansive definition of what "in the business" of selling guns means, which is the current statutory definition of who requires a license and must conduct background checks. Former President Obama also worked through the "in the business" phrasing to try and expand background checks. 
  • Biden has also said he’ll task the attorney general with better enforcement of existing gun laws. 
1:40 p.m. ET, March 24, 2021

Friend of Boulder shooting victim Suzanne Fountain asks Biden to "make the change" on gun reform

Martha Harmon Pardee lost her friend Suzanne Fountain in Monday's supermarket shooting in Boulder, Colorado. The two actresses met on stage over 30 years ago while performing in a show, Pardee told CNN.

"I loved her immediately," Pardee said. "That's just what happened when people met her. She was a bright light, a peace lover, a strong feminist."

Pardee said she and Fountain only acted together twice — "but I never missed a show she was in because I loved to watch her, always learned something," she added.

"It was a joy and an honor to work with her onstage because she was so connected, and so present, and so generous," she said.

In the wake of the deadly shooting, Pardee said she plans to advocate for gun policy reform.

"I know personally I'm going to step up my involvement in gun legislation and mental health legislation personally," she said.

She also had a message to President Biden.

"As a fellow Wilmingtonian — I grew up in Wilmington, Delaware — I appeal directly to President Biden to please lead this long overdue fight. You know, be the leader, make the change and make it happen," she said.

Watch:

12:59 p.m. ET, March 24, 2021

Shooting victim Rikki Olds' uncle: "There's a hole in our family"

Robert Olds, uncle of shooting victim Rikki Olds, said at press conference today that after the shooting, "There's a hole. There's a hole in our family."

"That won't be filled," he added.

Robert Olds said that Rikki Olds, 25, has a little brother who is "taking it really tough."

Asked what he wanted people to remember about his niece, Robert Olds said, "That Rikki lived life on her own terms."

"She didn't care about if people judged her on her hair color or what kind of tattoos she had," he said.

He said that Rikki Olds was planning to come over to his house for a family gathering this week. Asked what the last thing she said to him was, he said she told him, "See you Thursday."

Hear Robert Olds' tribute to his niece, Rikki: 

12:48 p.m. ET, March 24, 2021

Mother of Sandy Hook victim blames Colorado shooting on Congress "for failing to take action"

Nicole Hockley speaks during an interview on March 24.
Nicole Hockley speaks during an interview on March 24. CNN via Skype

Nicole Hockley lost her 6-year-old son Dylan in the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newton, Connecticut, in 2012.

"The shock will eventually fade away. The pain never does," she told CNN's Kate Bouldan, reacting to Monday's Colorado grocery shooting. 

"The pain is forever. I don't think people can appreciate that until you're in that situation," she added.

Now the managing director of "Sandy Hook Promise," an organization aimed at protecting children from gun violence, Hockley laid the blame for the latest shooting squarely on Congress.

"I blame Congress for ignoring this crisis for the last eight years and failing to take action. That is just unimaginable that they continue to not do the right thing," she said. 

Hockley said she believes President Biden has both "the will and empathy" to pass gun reform and pointed out that the House has already passed two gun control bills, so it's time for the Senate to act.

"It really relies on the Senate now. The House is ready. We know that. The Senate stalled eight years ago and failed us then. This has to be a bipartisan issue though. You have to have both sides want this because this isn't a partisan issue, this is a people partisan issue. This is about what's going to protect people and save lives across the country every day, not just mass shootings." 

Hockley reiterated that the Senate needs to listen to the public and to current polls on the issue.

"Back in 2013, background checks were still supported by the vast majority of people, including gun owners. This year, numbers are even higher. What will it take for the Senate to say 'hey, I was voted into position to protect my constituents and my constituents want this'? So ignore the lobbyists telling you to vote a different way, and vote to save people's lives. Universal background checks is not a partisan vote, it is the right thing to vote for. The senate needs to move forward on this," she said.

Watch the emotional interview:

12:23 p.m. ET, March 24, 2021

Friend of Boulder victim Tralona Bartkowiak describes her as "most amazing person I ever met in my life"

Tralona Bartkowiak
Tralona Bartkowiak From Facebook

Matisse Molina, friend of 49-year-old shooting victim Tralona Bartkowiak, described her as "the most amazing person I ever met in my life."

Molina worked at Bartkowiak's clothing store that she owned and said "she would rather make friends than sell stuff from her store."

"There aren't any words that could describe her to who she really was, because she was so amazing," Molina said.

"She touched so many lives, I can't even tell you. She has brought people from very dark places up to their highest points. She helped me as a person grow tremendously," she said.

Bartkowiak was one of ten victims of Monday's shooting at a Boulder, Colorado, grocery store.

12:35 p.m. ET, March 24, 2021

Boulder mayor says a ban on assault weapons "probably would have helped"

From CNN's Konstantin Toropin

Boulder Mayor Sam Weaver speaks during an interview on March 24.
Boulder Mayor Sam Weaver speaks during an interview on March 24. CNN via Skype

Boulder, Colorado, Mayor Sam Weaver told CNN's Poppy Harlow this morning that a state-wide ban on assault-style weapons "probably would have helped" in preventing a shooting like the one in Boulder this week.

"We can never know on that incident-by-incident basis what laws would have been effective or not, but I can say this — it wouldn't have hurt, and probably would have helped," Weaver said.

"Making these weapons less available to people, particularly people who may have mental health problems, is an important step we need to take," Weaver added.

CNN previously reported that in 2018, the city passed a ban on the sale and possession of assault weapons and large capacity magazines. Earlier this month, a state district court judge blocked the city from enforcing its ban.

In an opinion dated March 12, Boulder County District Court Judge Andrew Hartman wrote that the court found "only Colorado state (or federal) law can prohibit the possession, sale and transfer of assault weapons and large capacity magazines."

Weaver noted that, despite being a gun owner himself, more gun control is needed.

"I own guns, and I appreciate the Second Amendment for what it was meant to do," Weaver said.

"I do not think that protecting killing machines in the hands of Americans was what the Second Amendment was intended for — at least not mass killing machines like assault weapons are," he added.

Weaver said that his first step is to try and repeal the state preemption that prevents local governments from enacting ordinances that prohibit the possession or sale of firearms.

"We want to make our own laws. It was unanimous decision in 2018 to pass this assault weapons ban — our people want it," he said.

However, the mayor acknowledged that broader efforts are needed as well.

"This needs to happen at a broader level because the city borders of Boulder, Colorado are not that big and so people can go buy assault weapons outside of the city."

Weaver also made similar remarks earlier on “CBS This Morning” today.

Listen here:

12:06 p.m. ET, March 24, 2021

Friend of grocery store shooting victim explains why she doesn't want to hold a moment of silence

 

Judy Amabile, a Colorado state representative and a friend of shooting victim Jody Waters, said she doesn't want to hold a moment of silence for the 10 people killed in the Monday attack — she wants people to "get loud" instead.

"I think we've all been a little too silent, and it's time to get loud. We need the federal government to enact this assault weapons ban. We need a national universal background check, and we need better access to mental health care resources for our communities," she told CNN.

Amabile said Waters owned a clothing store for women and children in the 1990s.

"You went there once and she asked you your name, and then she always remembered your name," she said. "She knew your kids, She how old they were. She knew what kind of stuff you liked. She just was a genuine person who knew how to connect with everybody."

Amabile said time passed, and Waters began working at another store —but even through they hadn't seen each other in years, Waters remembered Amabile instantly.

"I walked in there. I hadn't seen her in a couple of years and she immediately remembered my name and knew about my kids and really just was that kind of a person who connected with people on a very genuine level."

Watch:

12:06 p.m. ET, March 24, 2021

Suspect in Boulder shooting will have his first hearing tomorrow

From CNN's Konstantin Toropin

Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 21, the suspect in the grocery store shooting in Boulder, Colorado, that claimed 10 lives, has his first court hearing set for Thursday morning, according to a statement from the Boulder County District Attorney.

"The suspect in the tragic King Soopers shooting is set for an Appearance on Arrest Warrant on Thursday, March 25 at 8:15 am in Judge Mulvahill’s courtroom," the statement read.

The hearing will be publicly accessible via WebEx.

It is unclear if Alissa will personally appear since a court document noted that "the Defendant and counsel shall appear personally unless Defendant waives, in writing, his right to appear personally."

The hearing is meant to advise Alissa of the charges he is facing, his rights and the next court date in his case, according to the statement.

"It is anticipated that this appearance will be the first court appearance in what will likely be a lengthy court process," the statement said.