Police were met with a “very significant amount of gunfire” as they responded to the mass shooting that took the lives of 10 people, a Colorado prosecutor said Friday.
That gunfire will lead to additional charges of attempted murder against suspect Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, according to Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty.
Officers “charged into the store and immediately faced a very significant amount of gunfire from the shooter, who at first they were unable to locate,” he told reporters during a news conference. “They put their lives at risk.”
Alissa used a Ruger AR-556 pistol when he opened fire on a King Soopers grocery store on Monday, killing 10 people, including Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley, 51, authorities said.
The gun was legally purchased at a gun shop in Arvada, the suburb where the suspect is from, according to Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold. Alissa, 21, also had a 9 mm pistol on him, but he did not appear to use that weapon, authorities said.
Nearly 170 investigators from local, state and federal agencies have logged more than 3,000 hours picking apart the crime scene and desperately seeking to find a motive for the carnage, according to officials.
So far, it’s not clear what drove the gunman.
“We want to know why?” Herold said. “Why that King Soopers? Why Boulder? Why Monday? And unfortunately at this time we still don’t have those answers.”
She cautioned the community that there’s always a chance a motive will never be clear.
“It’ll be something haunting for all of us until we figure that out,” Herold said. “And like someone said, sometimes you just don’t figure these things out. But I am hoping we will.”
Alissa has been charged with 10 counts of murder, with additional charges likely to be filed in the next two weeks, according to Boulder’s prosecutor.
Dougherty said he and police want to limit their public comments on the case, fearing they could inadvertently add to prejudicial, pre-trial publicity and trigger a change of venue.
”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 in Boulder County,” Dougherty said.
It’s a high burden for a trial to be moved out of town, said local defense attorney Martin Stuart, citing the Aurora movie theater massacre in 2012. The trial was kept in Arapahoe County despite heavy publicity and efforts by the suspect’s legal team to get it moved.
“Change of venue is extremely difficult and rare,” said Stuart, former president of the Colorado Criminal Bar Association. “The law in Colorado requires a showing by the defense that there is ‘actual prejudice’ because pretrial publicity was ‘so massive, pervasive and prejudicial as to create a presumption that the defendant will be denied a fair trial.’ ”
Talley, the slain officer, was a father of seven children. He’s been hailed as “the definition of an American hero” by President Joe Biden.
The nine others killed on Monday were Denny Stong, 20; Neven Stanisic, 23; Rikki Olds, 25; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Teri Leiker, 51; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; and Jody Waters, 65.
Alissa was shot in the leg by responding police and arrested. The public caught a glimpse of him outside the market as an aerial news video showed police escorting a man in handcuffs, his right leg covered in blood. He wasn’t wearing a shirt or shoes.
Alissa’s defense lawyer said Thursday that she’ll need a thorough review of her client’s mental health before going forward with any court proceedings.
The officer who wounded Alissa is an 11-year veteran who was placed on administrative leave, which is routine in officer-involved shootings, police said Friday.