Advertisement

10 killed in shooting massacre at Boulder King Soopers: What we know

A memorial outside the Boulder King Soopers, where 10 lost their lives.
A memorial outside the Boulder King Soopers, where 10 lost their lives.(KKTV)
Published: Mar. 22, 2021 at 2:05 PM PDT|Updated: Mar. 25, 2021 at 7:55 AM PDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

This is what we know as of 9 a.m. Thursday:

BOULDER, Colo. (KKTV) - Days after a horrific massacre at a Colorado grocery store, there’s no answer to the biggest question.

Why?

Why did a gunman open fire on innocent shoppers and employees at a King Soopers?

“Boulder has suffered a terrible and horrific mass shooting,” said District Attorney Michael Dougherty. “... These were people going about their day, doing their shopping, and their lives were cut abruptly and tragically short by the shooter.”

The shooter seemingly fired at random, over and over and over again.

“It was like multiple [gunshots]. Then it would stop, then it would go again, multiple,” a surviving employee said.

When the harrowing ordeal was finally over hours later, 10 people including a Boulder police officer were dead and a 21-year-old man was in custody.

But even with a suspect arrested, investigators still have not found a motive.

The alleged shooter made his first appearance before a judge Thursday. A judge approved a request by the public defender that Alissa undergo a mental health evaluation.

HOW IT ALL UNFOLDED

At 2:30 p.m. Monday, calls began coming into 911 reporting gunfire at the King Soopers on Table Mesa Drive.

“We began receiving phone calls about shots fired in the area and a phone call about a possible person with a patrol rifle,” said Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold.

According to an arrest affidavit obtained Tuesday morning, callers told police the gunman started his shooting spree in the parking lot. Witnesses described a man being shot while sitting his car, and another man being shot multiple times as the suspect stood over him.

The gunman then moved inside.

Police arrived within minutes of the 911 calls, with Officer Eric Talley one of the very first to reach the scene. He would lose his life protecting the customers and employees from the active shooter.

“The heroic action of this officer when he responded to the scene ... Officer Talley responded to the scene, was the first on the scene, and was fatally shot,” Herold said.

Talley was already dead when other officers reached the scene. Police have not released any details on what happened when Talley responded, including what transpired between him and the suspect before Talley was fatally wounded.

“Witnesses continued to call, stating they heard shots inside of the store. Multiple people stated they were hiding in the store. There were reports of “parties down” from witnesses and a report that the male suspect shot at police. The suspect was also described as having a black AR-15 and blue jeans and that he might have body armor on.” - Excerpt from arrest affidavit

An employee in the store’s meat department said he thought the gunfire was construction work at first.

“They sounded loud, but from far away, and then suddenly got closer,” said Andy Arellano. “The noise sounded more intense, and that’s when a lot of people started running.”

Arellano and his coworkers put their own lives at risk to help customers get to out through the back of the store.

“I just wanted to see if there was anybody, like, in our department, because if they don’t know their way, they might end up getting stuck. When we heard the shots, we were running, but also helping an elderly person. We got out of the back. There was this other person, they are calling 911. He was using our phones from the store and I was telling him, ‘Let’s go let’s go.’”

One family told 11 News sister station CBS Denver that they waited out the shooting by hiding in a closet.

“I got the call from my daughter that my grandchildren and my son-in-law walked into the pharmacy for him to get a COVID-19 shot, and the shooter came in, shot the woman in front of them, they ran upstairs and have been hiding in a coat closet for the last hour. ... Cops came in through the roof and got them and told them to say quiet and they’re OK,” a grandfather said.

A neighbor living near the King Soopers described the scene unfolding outside the store as more and more law enforcement flooded the area.

“I heard all the cop cars pouring in, looked out my window. And then I see the squad team go into the King Soopers,” said Ben Salvo.

One hour after the first 911 call, police say the suspect surrendered.

The affidavit described the moment officers had him cornered.

“Officer Frederking heard SWAT operators in voice contact with someone. Officer Frederking saw the male, who later identified himself as Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa (hereinafter “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 suspect had blood on his right thigh. Officer Frederking and Sergeant Drelles walked the male to the corner of the King Soopers building. Sergeant Drelles asked the male if there are any other suspects. The suspect did not answer questions, though he asked to speak to his mother. Officers did not observe the odor of alcoholic beverage on Alissa’s breath, nor was there an indication of impairment due to drug use. The suspect was escorted to an ambulance where EMS personnel determined he sustained a “through and through” gunshot wound to his upper right thigh . Alissa told paramedics he was not using any medications. Alissa was transported to the hospital with officers in the ambulance.” - Excerpt from the affidavit

Police have since confirmed the suspect was shot while trading gunfire with officers.

Salvo described seeing a shirtless man with a bloody leg walk out of the store in handcuffs being loaded into an ambulance.

“Everyone else that came out had their hands above their heads like this and he came out in handcuffs.”

THE VICTIMS

Denny Stong, 20

Neven Stanisic, 23

Rikki Olds, 25

Tralona Bartkowiak, 49

Teri Leiker, 51

Eric Talley, 51

Suzanne Fountain, 59

Kevin Mahoney, 61

Lynn Murray, 62

Jody Waters, 65

Denny Stong, 20 Neven Stanisic, 23 Rikki Olds, 25 Tralona Bartkowiak, 49 Teri Leiker, 51 Eric Talley, 51 Suzanne...

Posted by KKTV 11 News on Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Victims included a talented actress, a father of seven, a business owner.

King Soopers confirmed that among the dead were three employees at the store, Stong, Olds and Leiker.

“She was funny,” Allen Wooley said of his friend Leiker. “Everybody loved her at work. All the managers. Everybody loved her.”

Mahoney was described as an incredible father, incredible spouse and incredible neighbor. His daughter tweeted her gratitude that he had been able to walk her down the aisle last year, while grieving that he would never meet the grandchild she was carrying.

Bartkowiak co-owned a Boulder clothing boutique with her sister. Waters worked in another boutique store in the Boulder area. Both women were remembered as loving and big-hearted by their respective colleagues.

Talley had served on the Boulder police force for more than a decade. He was a father of seven; his youngest being just 5 years old.

“He was by all accounts one of the outstanding officers of the Boulder Police Department,” Dougherty said. “His life was cut far too short as he responded to the shooting that was taking place at King Soopers.”

According to Herold, Talley came to police work late in life.

“He didn’t have to go into policing. He had a profession before this. But he felt a higher calling, and he loved this community. And he’s everything policing deserves and needs. ... He was willing to die to protect others.”

A procession was held for the fallen hero Monday night.

Police procession for fallen Boulder Officer

This is a live look at the procession for a fallen Boulder Officer. They were killed after responding to reports of shots fired at a King Soopers. https://www.kktv.com/2021/03/22/active-shooter-situation-at-boulder-king-soopers/

Posted by KKTV 11 News on Monday, March 22, 2021

A memorial for the victims continues to grow outside the King Soopers.

Posted by KKTV 11 News on Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Read more about the victims here.

THE ALLEGED GUNMAN

The suspect has been identified as 21-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa. Following treatment in the hospital for a gunshot wound to the leg -- sustained in a shootout with police -- he was booked into the Boulder County jail late Tuesday morning. He face 10 counts of first-degree murder.

Alissa allowed himself to be taken into custody, but investigators say any cooperation ended there. According his arrest papers, when officers rode with him in an ambulance, he refused to answer any questions and asked to talk to his mom. A motive in the shooting remains murky. Several media outlets have reported speaking to people who knew him, and those people’s speculations on a reason have differed.

Posts from the suspect’s now-scrubbed Facebook page show he was paranoid that his former high school had been hacking his phone. He also showed signs of homophobia in other posts.

In another post, he accused “racist, Islamophobic people” of hacking his phone and not allowing him to have a normal life.

Police records show a third-degree assault charge in 2018

Alissa lives in Arvada, which is about 30 minutes away from Boulder. He legally obtained an assault rifle six days before the shooting spree.

“I want to say to the community: I am so sorry this incident happened,” Herold said Tuesday. “We are going to do everything in our power to make sure the suspect has a thorough trial, and we’ll do a thorough investigation.”

Alissa made his first court appearance Thursday, where a judge approved a mental health evaluation.

The prosecution said they expect more charges against Alissa in the coming weeks.

STATE, NATIONAL LEADERS RESPOND

Gov. Jared Polis:

“I’m standing here not just as governor, but someone who has called this community my home for most of my life and has shopped at that King Soopers on Table Mesa many times.

“My heart aches today. I think all of our does as Coloradans, as Americans. This senseless tragedy, this loss of life, as we hear those names, everybody -- and Boulder County is a small community -- we’re all looking over the list, ‘Do we know anybody?’ ... People who started their day with a cup of coffee and reading the morning paper or perhaps getting their kids ready and putting on a winter coat to go out. Making last-minute spring break plans. None of them expected their last day here on the planet. Simple run for milk and eggs, you know, getting ready to shop, going in the regular way we all live our lives, something we can all identify with, led to a complete tragedy.”

Kroger, which owns King Soopers, shared the following statement Monday evening:

“We are horrified and deeply saddened by the senseless violence that occurred at our King Soopers store located at the Table Mesa Drive in Boulder, CO.

The entire Kroger family offers our thoughts, prayers and support to our associates, customers, and the first responders who so bravely responded to this tragic situation.

We will continue to cooperate with local law enforcement and our store will remain closed during the police investigation.

To protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation, we are referring questions to the Boulder Police Department.”

President Joe Biden:

Biden speaks about Boulder shooting

WATCH LIVE: President Biden delivers remarks about the shooting in Boulder, Colorado. https://cbsn.ws/3f8mE7q

Posted by KKTV 11 News on Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The president has asked for flags to fly at half-staff at the White House.

Other state leaders expressed their grief and horror over the events in Boulder.

State Rep. Tom Sullivan, who lost his own child in a mass shooting at an Aurora movie theater in 2012:

“Simply don’t have the words and doing all I can to maintain the strength I will need to get through this day. We don’t have to live like this. We must do more!”

Others:

HOW YOU CAN HELP

The Boulder Office of Emergency Management has released the following verified ways to donate to those affected by the King Soopers shooting:

Donations for @boulderpolice Officer Talley can be made through the Colorado State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police at https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=JWE54STEJ4FTJ

The Colorado Healing Fund is collecting donations to support the needs of victims, families and the community affected by the Boulder tragedy.

The Community Foundation Boulder County has announced a fund to support those impacted by the shooting. Donations can be made to support the needs of the victims, families and the larger impacted community.

Copyright 2021 KKTV. All rights reserved.