Colorado shooting suspect passed check in legal gun purchase

Supermarket_Shooting_52757 Wreaths and other tributes envelope a police cruiser as Boulder County, Colo., District Attorney Michael Dougherty, at the podium, makes a point to outline the ongoing investigation into the mass shooting at a King Soopers grocery store during a news conference outside police headquarters Friday, March 26, 2021, in Boulder, Colo. Ten people were killed in the shooting at the supermarket on Monday.
Supermarket_Shooting_32085 Mourners walk by the temporary fence put up around the parking lot of a King Soopers grocery store Thursday, March 25, 2021, in Boulder, Colo. Ten people were killed in a mass shooting at the supermarket on Monday, March 22.
Supermarket_Shooting_12406 A sign is flanked by floral bouquets placed on the temporary fence put up around the parking lot of a King Soopers grocery store Thursday, March 25, 2021, in Boulder, Colo. Ten people were killed in a mass shooting at the supermarket on Monday.
APTOPIX_Supermarket_Shooting_60757 Mourners walk the temporary fence line outside the parking lot of a King Soopers grocery store, the site of a mass shooting in which 10 people died, Friday, March 26, 2021, in Boulder, Colo.
Supermarket_Shooting_44270 Thalin Di Paolo holds an American flag as a procession of emergency vehicles heads down Foothills Parkway to lead a hearse carrying the body of a Boulder, Colo., Police Department officer who was one of 10 victims in the mass shooting at a King Soopers grocery store Wednesday, March 24, 2021, in Boulder, Colo. Boulder Police Department Officer Eric Talley was killed responding to the shooting attack at the supermarket on Monday.
Supermarket_Shooting_34760 The front of the Eagles Nest Armory gun shop is seen Friday, March 26, 2021, in Arvada, Colo. The suspect in the Colorado supermarket shootings bought a firearm at the local gun store after passing a background check, and he also had a second weapon with him that he didn't use in the attack that killed 10 people this week, authorities and the gun store owner said Friday.
Supermarket_Shooting_20603 Police work on the scene outside of a King Soopers grocery store where a shooting took place Monday, March 22, 2021, in Boulder, Colo.
Supermarket_Shooting_34492 Mourners listen to speakers at a vigil for the 10 victims of the Monday massacre at a King Soopers grocery store late Thursday, March 25, 2021, at Fairview High School in Boulder, Colo.
Supermarket-Shooting_68990 Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 21, appears before Boulder District Court Judge Thomas Mulvahill at the Boulder County Justice Center in Boulder, Colo. on Thursday, March 25, 2021. Three days after he was led away in handcuffs from a Boulder supermarket where 10 people were fatally shot, Alissa appeared in court for the first time and his defense lawyer asked for a mental health assessment "to address his mental illness."
Supermarket_Shooting_10530 Mourners gather at a vigil for the 10 victims of the Monday massacre at a King Soopers grocery store late Thursday, March 25, 2021, at Fairview High School in Boulder, Colo.
Supermarket_Shooting_61806 Mourners console each other at a vigil for the 10 victims of the Monday massacre at a King Soopers grocery store late Thursday, March 25, 2021, at Fairview High School in Boulder, Colo.
Supermarket_Shooting_37583 Three-year-old Mariah Reznicek smiles as she uses chalk to draw a heart next to the names of the 10 victims of the massacre at a King Soopers grocery store before a vigil for the victims late Thursday, March 25, 2021, at Fairview High School in Boulder, Colo.
Supermarket_Shooting_33644 Mourners console each other at a vigil for the 10 victims of the Monday massacre at a King Soopers grocery store late Thursday, March 25, 2021, at Fairview High School in Boulder, Colo.
Supermarket_Shooting_72378 Mourners console each other at a vigil for the 10 victims of the Monday massacre at a King Soopers grocery store late Thursday, March 25, 2021, at Fairview High School in Boulder, Colo.
Supermarket_Shooting_21063 Mourners console each other at a vigil for the 10 victims of the Monday massacre at a King Soopers grocery store late Thursday, March 25, 2021, at Fairview High School in Boulder, Colo.
Supermarket_Shooting_70708 Mourners hold candles at a vigil for the 10 victims of the Monday massacre at a King Soopers grocery store late Thursday, March 25, 2021, at Fairview High School in Boulder, Colo.
Supermarket_Shooting_31966 A mourner holds candles at a vigil for the 10 victims of the Monday massacre at a King Soopers grocery store late Thursday, March 25, 2021, at Fairview High School in Boulder, Colo.
Supermarket_Shooting_99467 Mourners at a vigil for the 10 victims of the Monday massacre at a King Soopers grocery store late Thursday, March 25, 2021, at Fairview High School in Boulder, Colo.
Supermarket_Shooting_94475 Mourners hug at a vigil for the 10 victims of the Monday massacre at a King Soopers grocery store late Thursday, March 25, 2021, at Fairview High School in Boulder, Colo.
Supermarket_Shooting_86867 Mourners gather at a vigil for the 10 victims of the Monday massacre at a King Soopers grocery store late Thursday, March 25, 2021, at Fairview High School in Boulder, Colo.
Supermarket_Shooting_18832 A mourner holds a placard at a vigil for the 10 victims of the Monday massacre at a King Soopers grocery store late Thursday, March 25, 2021, at Fairview High School in Boulder, Colo.
Supermarket_Shooting_63223 Mourners attend a vigil for the 10 victims of the Monday massacre at a King Soopers grocery store late Thursday, March 25, 2021, at Fairview High School in Boulder, Colo.
Supermarket_Shooting_75102 Mourners attend a vigil for the 10 victims of the Monday massacre at a King Soopers grocery store late Thursday, March 25, 2021, at Fairview High School in Boulder, Colo.
Supermarket_Shooting_66441 Mourners at a vigil for the 10 victims of the Monday massacre at a King Soopers grocery store late Thursday, March 25, 2021, at Fairview High School in Boulder, Colo.
Supermarket_Shooting_24755 U.S. Congressman Joe Neguse, left, D-Colorado, chats with mourners at a drive-in vigil for the 10 victims of the Monday massacre at a King Soopers grocery store late Thursday, March 25, 2021, at Fairview High School in Boulder, Colo.
Supermarket_Shooting_14254 Candles for the victims of a shooting days earlier at a King Soopers grocery store burn as mourners gather for a vigil late Thursday, March 25, 2021, at Fairview High School in Boulder, Colo.
Supermarket_Shooting_56535 Mourners gather for a vigil for the 10 victims of the Monday massacre at a King Soopers grocery store late Thursday, March 25, 2021, at Fairview High School in Boulder, Colo.
Supermarket-Shooting_33484 Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 21, appears before Boulder District Court Judge Thomas Mulvahill at the Boulder County Justice Center in Boulder, Colo. on Thursday, March 25, 2021. Three days after he was led away in handcuffs from a Boulder supermarket where 10 people were fatally shot, Alissa appeared in court for the first time and his defense lawyer asked for a mental health assessment "to address his mental illness."
Supermarket-Shooting_71447 Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 21, appears before Boulder District Court Judge Thomas Mulvahill at the Boulder County Justice Center in Boulder, Colo. on Thursday, March 25, 2021. Three days after he was led away in handcuffs from a Boulder supermarket where 10 people were fatally shot, Alissa appeared in court for the first time and his defense lawyer asked for a mental health assessment "to address his mental illness."
APTOPIX_Supermarket_Shooting_23792 Kolt Jones, left, and his wife, Josie, survey the array of floral bouquets and tributes placed around a police cruiser outside the Boulder, Colo., Police Department for fallen officer Eric Talley, one of 10 victims in a mass shooting at a King Soopers grocery store, before a news conference on the incident outside police headquarters Friday, March 26, 2021, in Boulder, Colo.
Supermarket_Shooting_83398 Boulder, Colo., Police Department Chief Maris Herold heads back into headquarters after a news conference to outline the ongoing investigation into the mass shooting at a King Soopers grocery store outside police headquarters Friday, March 26, 2021, in Boulder, Colo. Ten people were killed in the shooting at the supermarket on Monday.
Supermarket_Shooting_56467 Signs, floral bouquets and tributes stand along side a police cruiser parked in front of the Boulder, Colo., Police Department in honor of fallen officer Eric Talley, who was one of 10 victims in a mass shooting at a King Soopers grocery store, before a news conference about the ongoing investigation outside police headquarters Friday, March 26, 2021, in Boulder, Colo.
Supermarket_Shooting_49958 University of Colorado Police Department officer D. Matthews stands near a cruiser covered in floral bouquets and tributes to Eric Talley, a Boulder, Colo., Police Department officer killed with nine others in a mass shooting at a King Soopers grocery store, before a news conference about the incident outside police headquarters Friday, March 26, 2021, in Boulder, Colo.
Supermarket_Shooting_99694 Boulder County, Colo., District Attorney Michael Dougherty heads back into police headquarters after a news conference to outline the ongoing investigation into the mass shooting at a King Soopers grocery store outside the police station Friday, March 26, 2021, in Boulder, Colo. Ten people were killed in the shooting at the supermarket on Monday.
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BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — The suspect in the Colorado supermarket shootings bought a firearm at a local gun store after passing a background check, and he also had a second weapon with him that he didn’t use in the attack that killed 10 people this week, authorities and the gun store owner said Friday.

Investigators are working to determine the motive for the shooting, but they don’t know yet why the suspect chose the King Soopers grocery store in Boulder or what led him to carry out the rampage, Police Chief Maris Herold said at a news conference.

“Like the rest of the community, we too want to know why — why that King Soopers, why Boulder, why Monday,” Herold said. “It will be something haunting for all of us until we figure that out. Sometimes you just don’t figure these things out. But, I am hoping that we will.”

The quick response by officers, who traded gunfire with the suspect, kept many people inside the store out of danger, said Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty, who declined to say how many people were in the supermarket. The first officer on scene was killed.

“Their actions saved other civilians from being killed,” Dougherty said about the officers. “They charged into the store and immediately faced a very significant amount of gunfire from the shooter, who at first they were unable to locate.”

More charges will be filed against 21-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa in the coming weeks in connection with firing at officers, Dougherty said.

John Mark Eagleton, owner of Eagles Nest Armory in the Denver suburb of Arvada, said in a statement that his store was cooperating with authorities as they investigate. The suspect passed a background check conducted by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation before purchasing a gun, Eagleton said.

Alissa used a Ruger AR-556 pistol, which resembles an AR-15 rifle with a slightly shorter stock, in the shooting, Herold said. An arrest affidavit says Alissa purchased it on March 16, six days before the shooting.

He also had a 9 mm handgun, which the police chief said was not believed to have been used in the attack. Herold didn’t say how Alissa obtained it.

“We are absolutely shocked by what happened and our hearts are broken for the victims and families that are left behind. Ensuring every sale that occurs at our shop is lawful, has always been and will always remain the highest priority for our business,” Eagleton said in the statement.

The gun store is in a shopping center that also has a chiropractic clinic, yoga studio and foot massage parlor. It is less than a half-mile from one of the restaurants Alissa’s family owns and about 3 miles (5 kilometers) from his family’s house in Arvada. A different King Soopers store is across the street.

Colorado has a universal background check law covering almost all gun sales, but misdemeanor convictions generally do not prevent people from purchasing weapons.

Alissa was convicted in 2018 of misdemeanor assault after he knocked a fellow high school student to the floor, climbed on top of him and punched him in the head several times, according to police documents. He was sentenced to probation and community service.

If Alissa had been convicted of a felony, his gun purchase would have been prohibited under federal law.

Dougherty, the district attorney, said Friday that the FBI and other agencies were looking into the background of Alissa and the victims and didn’t yet have information to share. He said federal agencies were looking into “other firearms that might be connected to him” but refused to elaborate.

Dougherty said officials will limit how much they reveal about the investigation, which is expected to take months, to protect Alissa’s right to a fair trial and ensure it takes place in Boulder County.

“If we share too much about the facts of the investigation, it’s possible we’ll see a motion by the defense to move this trial to somewhere else in the state of Colorado,” Dougherty said. “And I want to make sure that the people of Boulder have the opportunity for this trial to be held and for justice to be done here.”

Alissa made his first court appearance Thursday, where his public defender asked for a mental health evaluation but provided no details about his mental state. He is charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder over shots fired at a police officer who was not hurt.

Alissa was treated at a hospital before going to jail, his hands bound during the transfer by the handcuffs used by Officer Eric Talley, who died in the attack. Alissa has been moved to a jail outside Boulder County due to safety concerns stemming from threats made against him, county sheriff’s spokeswoman Carrie Haverfield said in a statement Friday.

Alissa is being held without bail and has not yet entered a plea. His next court hearing will not be scheduled for two to three months to allow his attorneys to evaluate his mental state and evidence collected by investigators.

A Catholic funeral Mass for Talley will be celebrated Monday at a cathedral in downtown Denver. His funeral is scheduled for Tuesday in the Boulder County city of Lafayette. The 51-year-old joined the Police Department in 2010. He had seven children.

___

Anderson reported from Denver. Associated Press writers Brady McCombs and Lindsay Whitehurst in Salt Lake City, Michael Balsamo and Colleen Long in Washington and AP staff members from around the U.S. contributed to this report. Nieberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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