Case against Boulder mass shooting suspect will take at least a year, DA says

By: - March 26, 2021 12:29 pm

Community members gather for a vigil at Fairview High School in Boulder honoring 10 people who were killed during a mass shooting in Boulder on March 22, 2021. (Carl Payne for Colorado Newsline)

Like most murder investigations, the court case against the Boulder King Soopers shooting suspect could be drawn out for many months, or even years.

“It will be a lengthy court process,” Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty, who is prosecuting the case, told reporters on Friday. “In every murder prosecution, the process takes at least a year for us to complete. I anticipate that that will be the same in this case.”

The update on Friday took place in front of the Boulder Police Department headquarters, where Officer Eric Talley’s vehicle sat blanketed in flowers, balloons and posters. Talley was the first member of law enforcement to enter the King Soopers grocery store in south Boulder where the shooting occurred on March 22 and died from a gunshot wound.

The other nine community members who were killed in the shooting were: Denny Stong, Neven Stanisic, Rikki Olds, Tralona Bartkowiak, Suzanne Fountain, Teri Leiker, Kevin Mahoney, Lynn Murray and Jody Waters.

The alleged shooter, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, is being held without bond and was formally charged on Thursday during his first court proceeding with 10 counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder in the first degree. 

During the hearing, public defenders appointed to represent Alissa requested the defendant’s mental state be assessed before any further court proceedings.

Additional attempted murder charges expected to be filed

On Friday, Dougherty said additional attempted murder charges will be filed in the coming weeks. The pending charges are in response to the “significant amount of gunfire from the shooter” that was directed at law enforcement officers and civilians inside the store.

The next court date is expected to be announced next week. The proceeding will be a preliminary hearing to determine if there is enough evidence in the case for it to move forward to trial.

“The court has allowed some time for that hearing to take place so that the defense attorneys and the prosecutors have time to go through all the video evidence, all the reports, and all the discovery,” Dougherty said.

He added the community and members of the media should “use caution” when discussing the facts of the case to protect the suspect’s right to a fair trial and ensure the proceedings occur within Boulder County.

“It’s possible to see a motion by the defense to move this trial somewhere else in the state of Colorado,” he said. “I want to make sure that the people of Boulder have the opportunity for this trial be held, and for justice to be done, here in Boulder County.” 

No motive has been determined

Investigators are still working to determine the motive for the shooting on Monday.

“In the past five days, 26 law enforcement agencies have been working around the clock to determine a timeline of the events leading up to Monday’s mass casualty shooting that occured at King Soopers,” Maris Herold, chief of the Boulder Police Department, told reporters on Friday.

“But like the rest of the community, we too want to know why. Why that King Soopers? Why Boulder? Why Monday … and unfortunately at this time, we don’t have those answers,” she added.

When asked by a reporter about whether investigators are exploring if the suspect was involved in international terrorism, Dougherty said the FBI is doing a “deep dive” into the suspect’s background. “But at this point, we don’t have any information to share in that regard,” he added.

Herold confirmed the firearm used by the suspect was a semi-automatic Ruger AR-556 pistol. 

“It was legally purchased in a gun store in Arvada, Colorado,” she said. “The defendant was also in possession of a 9mm handgun, but at this time, we do not believe that gun was used in this incident.”

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Moe Clark
Moe Clark

Moe Clark is a freelance journalist and former Colorado Newsline reporter who covered criminal justice, housing, homelessness and other social issues.