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Suspect in Colorado store shooting is charged with 10 counts of murder

(Eliza Earle | The New York Times) A heart drawing inside fencing that surrounds the parking lot outside a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colo., on Tuesday, March 23, 2021, following Monday’s shooting, which left 10 people dead including a police officer.

Boulder, Colo. • The suspect in the killings of 10 people at a Boulder grocery store — the second mass shooting to shake the country in less than a week — is a 21-year-old man from a nearby Denver suburb who used an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle, law enforcement officials said.

The police in Arvada, Colorado, said they had two encounters in 2018 with the suspect, identified Tuesday as Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, of Arvada — one on a report of third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, and one of criminal mischief. It is not clear if he was convicted of a crime.

The suspect’s identity was known to the FBI because he was linked to another individual under investigation by the bureau, according to law enforcement officials.

Among the victims of the massacre Monday was Officer Eric Talley, 51, with the Boulder Police Department, who had responded to a “barrage” of 911 calls about the shooting, Chief Maris Herold said.

Authorities identified the nine additional victims as Denny Strong, 20; Neven Stanisic, 23; Rikki Olds, 25; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Teri Leiker, 51; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; and Jody Waters, 65.

Herold said at a news conference that police officers had run into the King Soopers grocery store within minutes of the shooting and had shot at the suspect. No other officers were injured during the response. She said Alissa was taken to a hospital for treatment of a leg injury and would be taken to jail Tuesday.

He was charged Tuesday with 10 counts of first-degree murder. Officials gave no indication of a motive.

(Eliza Earle | The New York Times) People comfort each other outside of the Boulder King Soopers grocery store after a shooting that killed multiple people in Boulder, Colo., on Monday, March 22, 2021.

A Facebook page that appeared to belong to the suspect, giving his name as Ahmad Al Issa, said he was born in Syria in 1999 and went to Arvada West High School, where he was a wrestler. Michael Dougherty, the Boulder County district attorney, said the suspect had “lived most of his life in the United States.”

The Facebook page listed wrestling and kickboxing as being among his interests, and many of the posts were about martial arts. One post, in 2019, said simply, “#NeedAGirlfriend.” It said he had studied computer engineering at Metropolitan State University of Denver, though it was not clear if he was a current student. The page was taken down within an hour of Alissa’s name being released by authorities.

The shooting came just six days after another gunman’s deadly shooting spree at massage parlors in the Atlanta area.

“Flags had barely been raised back to full mast after the tragic shooting in Atlanta that claimed eight lives, and now a tragedy here, close to home, at a grocery store that could be any of our neighborhood grocery stores,” Colorado’s governor, Jared Polis, said at the news conference.

He noted that he was “someone who has called this community my home for most of my whole life and who has shopped at that King Soopers in Table Mesa many times.”

A federal law enforcement official confirmed that the weapon used was some version of an AR-15 rifle, a type of weapon that has been used in many mass shootings.

Herold said the coroner’s office had identified all of the victims and notified their families before 4 a.m. Tuesday.

Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., said mass shootings could not be the “new normal.”

“In this year of separation due to COVID, of loss and of loneliness, grocery stores like King Soopers have been one of our consistent gathering places, one of the few routine activities that we’ve continued to engage in as Coloradans and as Americans,” Neguse said. “It’s hard to describe what it means for this safe place to see a horrible tragedy like this unfold.”

A video streamed live from outside of the grocery store Monday had appeared to show a suspect — handcuffed, shirtless and with his right leg appearing to be covered in blood — being taken from the building by officers.

Employees and shoppers inside the grocery store described a harrowing scene.

“I thought I was going to die,” said Alex Arellano, 35, who was working in the store’s meat department when he heard a series of gunshots and saw people running toward an exit.

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