Boulder suspect bought assault weapon six days before shooting

In White House address, Biden calls for ‘common-sense steps that will save lives’

Boulder District Attorney Michael Dougherty speaks during a morning press conference about the Boulder King Soopers shooting on March 23, 2021. Gov. Jared Polis is behind him to his right, and Rep. Joe Neguse is to Polis' right. (screenshot from Boulder Police Departent broadcast)

The suspect charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder following Monday’s mass shooting at a Boulder King Soopers had purchased an assault-style weapon just six days earlier, police said in an arrest affidavit Tuesday.

“Using law enforcement databases, investigators determined that (the suspect) had purchased a Ruger AR-556 pistol on March 16, 2021,” states the affidavit, which was filed by a Boulder Police Department detective and signed by a district court judge on Tuesday morning.

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A product listing for the AR-556 pistol on Ruger’s website shows a firearm that meets the criteria for what is commonly defined as an “assault weapon,” including in Ordinance 8245, the assault weapons ban passed by Boulder City Council in 2018 and invalidated by a court ruling less than two weeks ago.

Speaking from the White House on Tuesday, President Joe Biden said that federal authorities are “working very closely with state and local law enforcement officials” to investigate Monday’s massacre. He declined to speculate on a possible motive or other circumstances surrounding the shooting until more information is available.

“Ten lives have been lost, and more families have been shattered by gun violence in the state of Colorado,” Biden said. “Less than a week after the horrific murders of eight people and the assault on the AAPI community in Georgia — while the flag was still flying half-staff for (that) tragedy, another American city has been scarred by gun violence.”

Biden thanked police and other first responders for their actions in Boulder on Monday, and offered his condolences to the families of the victims — including Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley, who was among those killed on Monday and whom Biden called “the definition of an American hero.”

Nine other victims, ranging in age from 20 to 65, were identified by Boulder Police Tuesday morning. Officials have said that the suspect, who suffered a gunshot wound to his thigh before being apprehended by police, was the only person to be hospitalized following the incident.

Biden reiterated his support for additional gun control legislation, calling on the U.S. Senate to take up two bills to expand federal background checks for gun purchases that were passed by the House of Representatives last week. He also called for congressional action to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

“I don’t need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common-sense steps that will save lives in the future, and to urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to act,” Biden said.

Multiple weapons, ‘tactical vest’ recovered

Police have identified Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, a 21-year-old Arvada resident, as the suspect in Monday’s shooting.

The affidavit for Alissa’s arrest details multiple 911 calls that began shortly after 2:30 p.m., with callers describing a man with an “armored vest” and firing a possible assault rifle at the King Soopers store located at the intersection of Table Mesa Drive and Broadway.

Alissa was taken into custody at approximately 3:28 p.m., after SWAT officers made “voice contact” with someone inside the store, according to the affidavit. Alissa removed most of his clothing and walked “backward to the SWAT Team to be taken into custody,” the document says.

“It was aired over the radio that the suspect put his gear down inside the King Soopers,” it continues. “A photograph of the items that the male removed on scene included a green tactical vest, a rifle (possible AR-15), a semiautomatic handgun, a pair of jeans and a dark colored long-sleeved shirt.”

“Based on all of the information available at this point in time, it is believed that all 10 victims were shot and killed by Alissa,” states the affidavit.

Alissa was previously convicted of misdemeanor assault by a Jefferson County court in 2018, according to records. The Denver Post reports that he was charged after attacking a classmate at Arvada West High School, and sentenced to probation and community service.

To honor the 10 victims of Monday’s shooting, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has ordered flags across the state to be lowered to half-staff for 10 days, ending at sunset on April 1.

“This has been a painful year, and we sit here once again surrounded by seemingly incomprehensible loss,” Polis said in a statement Tuesday. “We know there will be many hard days in the weeks and months ahead, but today let us remember the ten men and women who are no longer with us.”

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