The Latest on Boulder Shooting: Live Updates | #schoolshooting


Credit…Eliza Earle for The New York Times

As the personal stories of those gunned down in a Colorado grocery store have emerged — a dedicated gardener, a helpful store employee, a man soon to become a grandfather — the enormity of the loss has become clearer.

But what remained unknown on Wednesday was why a gunman had chosen to cut their lives short, with the authorities yet to release details about a possible motive for the mass shooting at a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colo.

The Rev. Radovan Petrovic, the family priest of one of the victims of Monday’s shooting, 23-year-old Neven Stanisic, described the family’s loss as “beyond comprehension.”

“And now, the biggest question for the family, besides all the sorrow they are enduring, is how this could have happened here,” he said.

Though that question has not been answered, the authorities on Tuesday released a detailed affidavit as they charged a suspect, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, with 10 counts of first-degree murder, which in Colorado carries a penalty of life imprisonment without parole.

Law-enforcement officials said Mr. Alissa had been armed with a handgun and military-style semiautomatic rifle and was wearing an armored vest when he carried out the attacks.

Investigators said the gunman began the rampage in the store’s parking lot, then pushed inside. Officer Eric Talley, 51, an 11-year veteran of the Boulder Police Department, was the first officer to reach the scene. Officers who swept into the store soon after found his lifeless body and dragged it back outside.

Mr. Alissa’s brother described him to the Daily Beast as paranoid and antisocial, and in 2018, Mr. Alissa was convicted of misdemeanor assault against another student at his high school.

The attack in Boulder, combined with the killing of eight people at Atlanta-area spas last week — six of whom were women of Asian descent — has brought gun control back to the center of political discourse in America. President Biden on Tuesday called for Congress to take immediate action by passing a ban on assault weapons and closing background check loopholes.

In Boulder, memorials were planned for Wednesday as people continued to grieve, including a candlelight vigil scheduled at the Boulder County Courthouse.

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

They were young and old, single and married, King Soopers customers and King Soopers employees. The youngest was 20; the oldest 65.

Some had spent years working at the grocery. Others had been in the store only a few minutes. All left behind relatives and friends who were struggling to comprehend what had happened and who were more eager to talk about how their relative or friend had lived than how they had died.

The authorities identified the victims as Denny Stong, 20; Neven Stanisic, 23; Rikki Olds, 25; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Eric Talley, 51; Teri Leiker, 51; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; and Jody Waters, 65.

Like the people shopping at a Walmart store in El Paso in 2019, like those working in three Atlanta area spas last week, 10 victims in Boulder, Colo., were killed by the gunfire of a heavily armed man.

I don’t want her name to be another name next to an age on a list,” said Alexis Knutson, 22, a friend of Teri Leiker, 51, a King Soopers employee who she said had worked there for about 30 years and who died in the attack.

Ms. Knutson met Ms. Leiker through a program called Best Buddies that connects students at University of Colorado Boulder with members of the community who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. Ms. Knutson remembered going together to university sporting events, and how Ms. Leiker loved to cheer on the teams.

“She had the biggest, brightest smile,” Ms. Knutson said. “She always just had these dimples that, especially when she got excited about something — her smile was just huge.”

Despite their age difference, Ms. Knutson said, they bonded, and would talk often. “I always had a rule: She couldn’t call before 9 a.m. because I like my sleep,” she said. “She would always call me at 6 a.m.”

Denny Stong, 20, worked at the store for several years. Only a few years ago, he had been a student at Fairview High School in Boulder.

One day in a hall at Fairview, he complimented a classmate, Molly Proch, on her superhero T-shirt, and the two became fast friends.

“I’ve been spending most of my morning crying, really confused on how something like this could happen again,” said Ms. Proch, 20. “He was an essential worker, working at a grocery store. It makes my blood boil.”

A gun store in Charlotte, N.C., last year. A national checkerboard of state-by-state gun laws align with the partisan tilt of each state.
Credit…Logan R. Cyrus for The New York Times

Hundreds of miles apart but at exactly the same time on Monday afternoon, a gunman opened fire in a supermarket in Boulder, Colo., and Iowa State Senate Republicans voted to gut the state’s law requiring permits to carry concealed weapons. The bill’s sponsor expressed relief that Iowans would be able to exercise their gun rights “without a permission slip.’’

Last month in Maryland, however, Democrats overrode Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill expanding background checks, and in Virginia, Democrats passed bills banning guns on the State Capitol grounds and tightening the state’s background checks system.

The diverging efforts reflect the national checkerboard of state-by-state gun laws that align with the partisan tilt of each state, while Congress has not addressed gun violence with meaningful legislation since 1994, when a 10-year ban on assault weapons was included in the crime bill championed by now-President Biden.

Since the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut killed 20 first-grade students and six adults, 13 states, all controlled by Democrats, have enacted or expanded background checks for new gun purchases. Meanwhile, 14 states, all controlled by Republicans, have passed laws allowing their citizens to carry guns with no permit process at all, as the Iowa legislation would do.

The political divide on gun policy across the states is another example of the way national issues — including abortion rights and, in the post-Trump era, voting rights — are defining local politics.

Still, gun politics has shifted drastically in the decade since the Sandy Hook shooting. Since then, two major gun control organizations, backed by former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York and former Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, a victim herself of gun violence, have built nationwide grass-roots organizations. In the 2018 and 2020 elections, the groups outspent the embattled National Rifle Association in federal campaigns for the first time.

Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, the man accused of killing 10 people in a grocery store attack in Colorado, had a history of angry outbursts, according to police records and people who knew him, including one that resulted in a misdemeanor assault conviction when he was still in high school.

According to a police affidavit, just a week ago, he bought a Ruger AR-556 pistol — essentially a shortened version of an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle.

On Monday, law enforcement officials say, Mr. Alissa, 21, who lived in Arvada, Colo., went to a King Soopers store in nearby Boulder and killed 10 people.

And a man who identified himself as Mr. Alissa’s older brother described him to the Daily Beast as mentally ill, antisocial and paranoid.

When he was a senior at Arvada West High School, he beat up another student during a class, leading to the assault conviction; a fellow student said he flew into a rage “out of nowhere.”

A police report from the November 2017 incident said he “got up in classroom, walked over to victim & ‘cold cocked’ him in the head,” knocking him to the floor, and then “punched him in head several more times.” The report said Mr. Alissa stated that the other student had “made fun of him and called him racial names weeks earlier.”

Others also recalled examples of Mr. Alissa’s temper, sometimes in response to slights.

Mr. Alissa, a wrestler, had friends in high school, but also had an anger problem, said a classmate, Brooke Campbell, who was the wrestling team manager. “When he’d lose wrestling matches, when it’s something not that important, he’d get too angry,” she said.

“It’s scary, you know, looking back, that you knew someone that was capable of those things, or is now,” Ms. Campbell said of the shooting.

The police affidavit, released on Tuesday, said Mr. Alissa bought the Ruger firearm on March 16, and that his brother’s girlfriend saw him playing with what she thought looked like a machine gun just two days before the shooting. The authorities have said he had a rifle and a pistol with him during the assault, but it is not clear if one of those weapons was the Ruger bought last week.

He was charged on Tuesday with 10 counts of first-degree murder, which in Colorado carries a penalty of death or life in prison without parole. Officials have not suggested a motive for the crime.

Michael Dougherty, the Boulder County district attorney, said the suspect had “lived most of his life in the United States.” Both the suspect’s criminal record and a Facebook page that appeared to belong to him say he was born in Syria in 1999.

The police affidavit described Mr. Alissa as standing 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighing 200 pounds. That is far more than the 140 pounds listed from his arrest in November 2017, when he was a high school senior; a few months later he was found guilty of third-degree assault, and sentenced to probation and community service.

Mr. Alissa apparently had a serious interest in martial arts. The Facebook page listed wrestling and kickboxing as being among his interests, and many of the posts were about martial arts. One Facebook post, in 2019, said simply, “#NeedAGirlfriend.”

The page said he had studied computer engineering at Metropolitan State University of Denver, but a university spokesman, Timothy Carroll, said the suspect “is not nor has ever been an MSU Denver student.” The Facebook page was taken down within an hour of Mr. Alissa’s name being released by the authorities.

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

President Joe Biden speaking at the White House on Tuesday.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Faced with the second mass shooting in a week, President Biden and Democrats on Capitol Hill called on Tuesday for fast action to enact stricter gun laws, a plea that was immediately met with a blockade of opposition by Republicans.

In brief, somber remarks from the White House, Mr. Biden called on the Senate to pass a ban on assault weapons and to close background check loopholes, saying that doing so would be “common sense steps that will save lives in the future.”

His demand for action was the latest in what has become a doleful ritual in Washington: making a renewed call for gun safety legislation after a deadly shooting, this one at a Colorado grocery store where 10 people, including a police officer, were killed on Monday.

“This is not and should not be a partisan issue — it is an American issue,” Mr. Biden said. “We have to act.”

But while polling regularly shows broad support for tighter gun laws and specific policies like a ban on assault weapons, Republicans in Congress remained all but immovable on the issue, repeating longstanding arguments on Tuesday that gun violence should be addressed through steps like more policing rather than limiting gun rights.

“There’s not a big appetite among our members to do things that would appear to be addressing it, but actually don’t do anything to fix the problem,” said Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Senate Republican.

President Barack Obama was unable to win passage of tighter gun legislation even after the shootings in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, which left 20 children and six adults dead. Since then, there has been little progress at the federal level, even as the epidemic of gun violence has raged on.

On Tuesday, Mr. Biden noted that he had to draft a proclamation to keep the White House flags at half-staff because they had already been lowered to honor eight people killed by a gunman in the Atlanta area less than a week earlier.

“Another American city has been scarred by gun violence and the resulting trauma,” the president said.



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