Suspect's Family Took Gun From Him 2 Days Before Shooting

And more on the tragedy in Colorado
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 24, 2021 4:00 AM CDT
Updated Mar 24, 2021 6:57 AM CDT
Suspect's Family Took Gun From Him 2 Days Before Shooting
This undated photo provided by the Boulder Police Department shows Colorado shooting suspect Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa.   (Boulder Police Department via AP)

The family of accused Colorado grocery store shooter Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa took a gun away from him just two days before the shooting. The 21-year-old's sister-in-law says he appeared to be fiddling with a "machine gun," and he told family members a bullet had gotten stuck. They then took it away from him, unhappy he'd been messing with it in the house, Reuters reports. But his sister-in-law says, per a court affidavit, she thinks the gun, which he may have just purchased days prior, was back in his room Monday. That's the day Alissa allegedly shot up a King Soopers supermarket in Boulder, killing 10. He is now in jail after having originally been hospitalized to treat a leg wound he got while exchanging gunfire with police. More on the tragedy:

  • The victims: More is coming out on the victims (outlets including the AP, NBC News, CBS, and NPR have rundowns on many of them), three of whom were working at the grocery store that day. Rikki Olds, 25, was reportedly trying to lock the doors of the store after the shooting started in the parking lot when she was killed, a friend told her family. The first police officer to respond was also killed.

  • Motive: Police have not yet publicly speculated on what may have led to the shooting, the AP reports. But Alissa's family has said he struggled with paranoia and delusions; his brother tells the Daily Beast that in high school, Alissa, who was born in Syria but raised in the US, often talked about someone following him. "The guy used to get bullied a lot in high school. He was like an outgoing kid, but after he went to high school and got bullied a lot, he started becoming anti-social," his brother says. The shooting, he says, was likely "not at all a political statement, it’s mental illness."
  • Criminal history: Alissa was convicted of assault after punching a high school classmate in the face in 2017, then continuing to punch him while he was on the floor. The classmate said the alleged attack was unprovoked, but Alissa told police the classmate had called him racist names and a "terrorist."
  • "Short fuse": Alissa was on his high school wrestling team, but two former teammates say he was kicked off after becoming so enraged after losing a practice match that he said he would kill everyone. "He was one of those guys with a short fuse," one says. "Once he gets mad, it’s like something takes over and it’s not him. There is no stopping him at that point." The other tells the Denver Post that Alissa was "scary."
  • "Active shooter!": The New York Times has a harrowing account of the shooting, including stories from some of the pharmacy technicians who were giving COVID-19 vaccines when the shooting occurred. One says a person waiting in line for a vaccination was gunned down. Another describes hiding with co-workers: "You’re sitting there, completely exposed, listening to him kill everyone you know."
(More Boulder shooting stories.)

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