The suspect in the murders of 10 people at a Boulder, Colo., grocery store — the second mass shooting to shake the country in less than a week — is a 21-year-old man from a nearby Denver suburb who used an AR-15 type of assault rifle, law enforcement officials said.
The police in Arvada, Colo., said they had two encounters in 2018 with the suspect, identified on Tuesday as Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, of Arvada — one on a report of third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, and one of criminal mischief. It is not clear if he was convicted of a crime.
The suspect’s identity was known to the F.B.I. because he was linked to another individual under investigation by the bureau, according to law enforcement officials.
Among the victims of the massacre on Monday was Officer Eric Talley, 51, with the Boulder Police Department, who had responded to a “barrage” of 911 calls about the shooting, Chief Maris Herold said.
The authorities identified the nine additional victims as 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.
Chief Herold said at a news conference that police officers had run into the King Soopers grocery store within minutes of the shooting and had shot at the suspect. No other officers were injured during the response, she said. She said Mr. Alissa was taken to a hospital for treatment of a leg injury, and would be taken to jail on Tuesday.
He was charged on Tuesday with 10 counts of first-degree murder. Officials gave no indication of a motive.
A Facebook page that appeared to belong to the suspect, giving his name as Ahmad Al Issa, said he was born in Syria in 1999 and went to Arvada West High School, where he was a wrestler. Michael Dougherty, the Boulder County district attorney, said the suspect had “lived most of his life in the United States.”
The Facebook page listed wrestling and kickboxing as being among his interests, and many of the posts were about martial arts. One post, in 2019, said simply, “#NeedAGirlfriend.” It said he had studied computer engineering at Metropolitan State University of Denver, though it was not clear if he was a current student. The page was taken down within an hour of Mr. Alissa’s name being released by the authorities.
The shooting came just six days after another gunman’s deadly shooting spree at massage parlors in the Atlanta area.
“Flags had barely been raised back to full mast after the tragic shooting in Atlanta that claimed eight lives, and now a tragedy here, close to home, at a grocery store that could be any of our neighborhood grocery stores,” Colorado’s governor, Jared Polis, said at the news conference.
He noted that he was “someone who has called this community my home for most of my whole life and who has shopped at that King Soopers in Table Mesa many times.”
A federal law enforcement official confirmed that the weapon used was some version of an AR-15 rifle, a type of weapon that has been used in many mass shootings.
Chief Herold said the coroner’s office had identified all of the victims and notified their families before 4 a.m. Tuesday.
Representative Joe Neguse of Colorado said mass shootings could not be the “new normal.”
“In this year of separation due to Covid, of loss and of loneliness, grocery stores like King Soopers have been one of our consistent gathering places, one of the few routine activities that we’ve continued to engage in as Coloradans and as Americans,” Mr. Neguse said. “It’s hard to describe what it means for this safe place to see a horrible tragedy like this unfold.”
A video streamed live from outside of the grocery store on Monday had appeared to show a suspect — handcuffed, shirtless and with his right leg appearing to be covered in blood — being taken from the building by officers.
Employees and shoppers inside the grocery store described a harrowing scene.
“I thought I was going to die,” said Alex Arellano, 35, who was working in the store’s meat department when he heard a series of gunshots and saw people running toward an exit.
The authorities in Boulder, Colo., on Tuesday identified the 10 victims of the grocery store shooting. They included a police officer, a young grocery store worker and a retiree who was at the King Soopers picking up groceries for an Instacart delivery.
Among the victims was Officer Eric Talley, 51, with the Boulder Police Department, who had responded to a “barrage” of 911 calls about the shooting. Authorities identified the nine other people who were killed as 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.
Here is what we know about the victims so far.
‘Brought life to the family’
Rikki Olds, a 25-year-old who loved the outdoors, was a front-end manager at King Soopers, where she had worked for about seven or eight years, her uncle, Robert Olds, said in an interview.
Ms. Olds was an energetic, bubbly and “happy-go-lucky” young woman who “brought life to the family,” her uncle said. She had persevered, despite hardship, he said. She was the oldest of three siblings, and her mother had abandoned her when she was just seven years old — dropping her off at the doorstep of her grandparents, who raised her in Lafayette, Colo.
Mr. Olds described his niece as a strong and independent woman who enjoyed hiking and camping. She liked spending time with friends and family and often accompanied him and her cousins to their baseball games.
The whole family is in shock, particularly Ms. Olds’ grandmother, Mr. Olds said. “My mom was her mom,” he said. “My mom raised her.”
A veteran police officer
Eric Talley, an 11-year veteran of the Boulder Police Department, was described as “heroic” by Chief Maris Herold at a news conference at the scene of the shooting on Monday night.
“He was the first on the scene, and he was fatally shot,” Chief Herold said, holding back tears. “My heart goes out to the victims of this incident.”
“The world lost a great soul,” said Officer Talley’s father, Homer Talley. “He was a devoted father — seven kids. The youngest was 7 and the oldest was 20, and his family was the joy of his life.”
Officer Talley was born in Houston and raised in Albuquerque. He joined the police force as a second career when he was 40, quitting a job in cloud communications, his father said in an interview on Tuesday morning.
“He wanted to be a servant,” Mr. Talley said. “He wanted to serve people. And you know, all kids want to be a policeman, and in many ways, he was a big kid.”
A former magazine photo director
Lynn Murray, 62, a former photo director and mother of two, was at the grocery store on Monday filling an Instacart order, which she had enjoyed doing to help people since her retirement.
Ms. Murray was former photo director for several New York City magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire and Glamour, her husband said. The couple moved from New York in 2002, first to Stuart, Fla., then to Colorado, to raise their children.
“I just want her to be remembered as just as this amazing, amazing comet spending 62 years flying across the sky,” said her husband, John Mackenzie. She is also survived by two children: Olivia and Pierce.
Susan Campbell Beachy and Jack Begg contributed research.
Sarah Moonshadow was at the checkout at King Soopers with her son, buying food while waiting for her laundry to be done nearby, when she heard shots being fired.
“We ducked and I just started counting in between shots, and by the fourth shot I told my son, we have to run,” she said. As they were running, two shots were fired in their direction, she said.
When they made it out of the store, they saw a body lying in the road.
“I can tell that he wasn’t moving,” she said. “And so, I’m pretty sure he was gone. And I just broke down across the street. I just couldn’t believe we were able to make it across.”
Ms. Moonshadow moved back to Boulder, her hometown, from Denver after she became concerned about Denver becoming unsafe. “I’m really surprised that it even happened here,” she said. “This isn’t how Boulder is, you know. This isn’t what happens here.”
Taylor Shaver, who works at Art Cleaners, a dry cleaning and laundry business near the supermarket, said in an interview that she heard at least 10 gunshots and saw people running from the grocery store.
“I’m in the bathroom hiding,” Ms. Shaver said. “I heard this loud boom. I instantly knew. There was a ton of shots. My stomach dropped.”
Ms. Shaver, 18, added that it was particularly unnerving because it was her first day working alone at the dry cleaning business. During a phone interview, she said she had left the bathroom to see what was going outside the business.
“Oh my gosh, you can see all these people walking with their hands up,” she said. “I’ve never seen this many police officers in my life.”
Jordan Crumby, a student at the University of Colorado at Boulder, said in an interview that she was about to get a tattoo with the word “warning” on her hip at Auspicious Tattoo, a shop across from the grocery store, when the shooting began.
“From here, I can see the window that is shattered,” she said. “Everyone is still on lockdown.”
Ms. Crumby, 31, said she stepped outside to record a video for her Instagram feed, when the police waved her away. In the videos, officers with tactical gear and rifles could be seen swarming the shopping center. People from the grocery store, she said, were being evacuated.
“They had their hands over their heads and they’re getting escorted out,” she said. “I said, ‘We should probably go inside.’”
Logan Smith, working in the Starbucks kiosk in the store, told NBC’s “Today” show on Tuesday morning that two of his co-workers were killed in the shooting. He still had not heard back from a third friend, he said.
“It’s harder even than it was yesterday, just thinking about the friends that I’ve lost,” he said.
Mr. Smith said he helped a co-worker hide in a corner with “some trash cans to cover her.” But he struggled to find cover himself, hiding behind another trash can but finding it “couldn’t really protect me,” he said.
“I was definitely in a life-threatening situation if the shooter came to the kiosk,” he said. He added that this was not his first experience at the company in the last year that an employee’s life was threatened, though he only described those occasions as “not as severe.”
“But because of those other events, it’s been in my head that something like this could happen,” he said.
The deadly shooting on Monday in Boulder, Colo., where 10 people were killed including a police officer, was the second mass shooting in the United States in less than a week.
On March 16, a gunman shot and killed eight people — six of them women of Asian descent — at three spas in the Atlanta area.
“Atlanta was a week ago and now it’s Boulder,” said Meredith Johnson, a 25-year-old Boulder resident, as she was walking on a sidewalk across the street from the King Soopers grocery store where the shooting occurred.
“What is it going to be two weeks from now?” she said. “We’re looking at it right in front of us — it’s not just something you see on your feed anymore and unfortunately that’s just a common experience in America. And especially for our generation.”
Vice President Kamala Harris commented on the shooting during the ceremonial swearing in for the new C.I.A. director, William J. Burns, in Washington on Tuesday morning. “It’s absolutely baffling,” Ms. Harris said. “It’s 10 people going about their day, living their lives, not bothering anybody. A police officer who is performing his duties, and with great courage and heroism.”
Until the shooting in Georgia last week, it had been a year since there had been a large-scale shooting in a public place. In 2018, the year that a gunman killed 17 people and injured 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., there were 10 mass shootings in which four or more people were killed in a public setting.
The following year, when a gunman targeting Latinos in El Paso, Texas, killed 22 people, there were nine such shootings.
“Those were the worst years on record,” said Jillian Peterson, an associate professor of criminal justice at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn., and a co-founder of the Violence Project, a research center that studies gun violence.
But before the shootings in Atlanta last week, there had been no such killings since March 2020, according to the Violence Project.
Other types of gun violence, however, increased significantly last year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. There were more than 600 shootings in which four or more people were shot by one person compared with 417 in 2019. Many of those shootings involved gang violence, fights and domestic incidents, where the perpetrator knew the victims, Dr. Peterson said.
The early research suggests that widespread unemployment, financial stress, a rise in drug and alcohol addiction, and a lack of access to community resources caused by the pandemic contributed to the increase in shootings last year.
The police did not say what might have motivated the Colorado gunman, who is in custody.
In Atlanta, the shootings touched off calls to stop hate crimes against Asian-Americans, which have been rising during the pandemic. Some have blamed that rise on words used by former President Donald J. Trump, who has repeatedly called the coronavirus, which was first identified in Wuhan, China, “the Chinese virus.” The police have not ruled out a racial motive, even as the suspect denied racial animus, officials said.
Maggie Montoya was in the pharmacy distributing coronavirus vaccine shots when the first gunshot cut through the busy aisles of the King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colo.
“Active shooter!” screamed a store manager who had been lined up for her own vaccination, and everyone scattered, Ms. Montoya, 25, recalled on Tuesday morning.
One person waiting in line for a vaccination was shot dead, Ms. Montoya said, and she and her co-workers raced for cover in back rooms behind the pharmacy counter. Ms. Montoya and another co-worker, huddled in what the pharmacy team calls the counseling room, dialed 911.
But as gunshots boomed just outside the door, Ms. Montoya decided she had a more urgent call to make. “I hung up and called my parents instead,” she said. “I wanted to hear their voice, for them to hear my voice in case it was the last time. I just told them I loved them and I had to go.”
Ms. Montoya heard the shooter yelling something indistinct as she hid in the counseling room, then the blare of a police loudspeaker as officers ordered him to surrender. Ms. Montoya recalls him saying, “I surrender. I’m naked.”
As they waited to be rescued, she got on the phone with her boyfriend, and he narrated the chaotic scene outside — officers rushing to the building, SWAT units descending on the roof.
Eventually, the police cleared the supermarket of threats and led Ms. Montoya and her colleagues through the bloody aisles and out of the building, urging them to avert their eyes.
But not far from the cash registers at the entrance, Ms. Montoya said she recognized the body of a co-worker, a head clerk who had regularly visited the stressed-out pharmacy workers throughout the pandemic to check in. Her co-worker, whom she declined to name, had just gotten vaccinated and was excited about plans to get a new tattoo.
A professional runner, Ms. Montoya had moved to Boulder for its active running scene and world-class trails. But on Tuesday, her father was flying into Colorado to help her gather some things and leave so she could be with her family. She said she spent the past hours replaying again and again the bloodshed she saw inside the store.
“Just reliving,” she said.
The city of Boulder enacted bans on assault-style weapons and large-capacity magazines in 2018 following the school shooting in Parkland, Fla. But a state district court judge ruled this month that Boulder could not enforce the bans.
Law enforcement officials said on Tuesday that the gunman who killed 10 people at the King Soopers grocery store in Boulder on Monday used an AR-15-type rifle, a kind of weapon that the city ordinances were intended to restrict.
Judge Andrew Hartman ruled that under a state law passed in 2003, cities and counties are barred from adopting restrictions on firearms that are otherwise legal under state and federal law, The Denver Post reported. Gun advocates made that argument when they sued to overturn the Boulder bans shortly after they were adopted.
The judge rejected the city’s arguments that the home-rule provisions of the state constitution gave it the power to adopt the bans as a matter of local concern, and that they were necessary because the state did not regulate such weapons. As of last week, lawyers for the city had not said whether they planned to appeal.
An assault weapons ban in Denver was allowed to stand by the Colorado Supreme Court in 2006. But the circumstances were somewhat different. Among other things, Denver’s ban, unlike Boulder’s, had already been on the books for years when the 2003 state law was passed.
An appeals court found that Denver had the right to adopt reasonable gun regulations despite that law. When the decision was appealed, the State Supreme Court deadlocked 3-3 with one recusal. That left the appellate decision, and the Denver ban, in place, but it did not set a binding precedent for other cases.
Boulder’s ban is also being challenged in federal court on constitutional grounds.
The shooting at a grocery store in Boulder, Colo., that left 10 people dead came after a year in which the pandemic made supermarkets a dangerous place for employees, who risked falling ill with the coronavirus and often had to confront combative customers who refused to wear masks.
“They’ve experienced the worst of the worst,” said Kim Cordova, who represents more than 25,000 grocery and other workers in Colorado and Wyoming — including those at the King Sooper store that was attacked — as the president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7.
At least 853 grocery store employees in Colorado have had the virus during the pandemic, according to outbreak data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The state does not list any infections at the store that was the site of the shooting, but Ms. Cordova said that all grocery store employees had risked their safety when they came to work and were confronted by hostile shoppers.
“They’ve seen horrible behavior by customers — spitting on them, slapping them, refusing to wear masks — but they were the first to be heroes,” Ms. Cordova said.
The union, U.F.C.W., which also represents meatpacking employees and other workers, said in a statement that at least four of its members in Colorado had died of Covid-19 since the pandemic began, and that at least 155 grocery workers across the country have died.
Ms. Cordova said her union had pushed for more security in grocery stores as customers grew more aggressive. And while she cautioned that it was not yet clear what the motive of the gunman was, she said grocery store workers have increasingly come under threat on the job since the pandemic began.
“We have seen this behavior become more aggressive and violent,” she said, “and this has really traumatized these employees.”
A decorative star overlooking Boulder, Colo., on Flagstaff Mountain that is a fixture during the holiday season was lit on Monday night in honor of the 10 victims of the shooting at the King Soopers grocery store.
The Boulder Chamber, an organization that supports local businesses, announced the action on Twitter, saying, “We simply unite in our shared grief for the tragic taking of life from such a violent act and we send our heartfelt condolences to the families who have lost loved ones.”
Mayor Sam Weaver of Boulder urged residents to look at the star “in hope of a future in which these horrific events are a distant memory. And let us commit to making such a future a reality.”
The chamber said the star has marked every holiday season in the city for more than 70 years. It was first lit in 1947 and has shone out of season a year ago in support of efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Over the years, the star’s lights have been reconfigured for different occasions, including a No. 1 when the University of Colorado won a national championship in 1990 and a peace sign in the 1960s, according to 9News.
Senators quickly splintered along partisan lines over gun control measures on Tuesday as Democrats demanded action in the wake of two mass shootings in the past week and Republicans denounced their calls, highlighting the political divide that has fueled a decades-long cycle of inaction on gun violence.
At a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee that was scheduled before shootings in Atlanta and Boulder that left at least 18 people dead, Democrats argued that the latest carnage left Congress no choice but to enact stricter policies. They lamented the grim pattern of anguish and outrage followed by partisanship and paralysis had become the norm following mass shootings.
“In addition to a moment of silence, I would like to ask for a moment of action,” said Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, and the chairman of the committee. “A moment of real caring. A moment when we don’t allow others to do what we need to do. Prayer leaders have their important place in this, but we are Senate leaders. What are we doing?”
Even before the recent shootings, Democrats had already begun advancing stricter gun control measures that face long odds in the 50-50 Senate. House Democrats passed two bills this month aimed at expanding and strengthening background checks for gun buyers, by applying them to all gun buyers and extending the time the F.B.I. has to vet those flagged by the national instant check system.
But the twin pieces of legislation passed in the House have been deemed too expansive by most Republicans — only eight House Republicans voted to advance the universal background check legislation. The bills would almost certainly not muster the 60 votes needed to clear a filibuster in the Senate.
Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the panel, said in his opening remarks that he was hopeful Democrats and Republicans could work together to make “bipartisan, common-sense” progress on gun control. But he said that the House-passed legislation did not fit that bill, since the measures passed almost entirely along party lines.
“That is not a good sign that all voices and all perspectives are being considered,” Mr. Grassley said.
Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, went further, lashing out at Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, who said that Republicans had offered “fig leaves” rather than actionable, significant solutions to gun control.
“Every time there’s a shooting, we play this ridiculous theater where this committee gets together and proposes a bunch of laws that would do nothing to stop these murders,” Mr. Cruz said. “But what they propose — not only does it not reduce crime, it makes it worse.”
The renewed focus on gun control is expected to cast attention back on Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, who opposes dismantling the legislative filibuster but has long labored — fruitlessly — to pass a bipartisan gun control proposal. Following the 2012 shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Mr. Manchin brokered a deal with Senator Pat Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, to close legal loopholes that allow people who purchase firearms at gun shows or on the internet to avoid background checks, but proponents were unable to pick up enough support to pass it.
Mr. Manchin told CQ Roll Call earlier this month that he opposed the House-passed universal background check bill, citing its provision requiring checks for sales between private citizens, but said he was interested in reviving the Manchin-Toomey legislation.
As president, Joseph R. Biden Jr. finds himself in a position distressingly similar to the one he confronted eight years ago as vice president: trying to figure out a way to stop mass shootings and meeting resistance from conservative gun owners and their political allies.
In 2020, gun control was given a prominent place on Mr. Biden’s campaign website, but it had been a back-burner concern for a new administration single-mindedly determined to address the pandemic and its economic damage.
That could change following the attacks in Atlanta and Boulder, and if so, Mr. Biden’s successes and failures over the past three decades on gun control are likely to inform how he confronts the crisis as president.
President Barack Obama chose not to act immediately following the massacre of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. in 2012, as many Democrats had hoped, by pushing for a quick vote on gun control legislation.
Instead, he delegated the task of coming up with a package of reforms to Mr. Biden, who had helped pass the landmark Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act and a 10-year assault weapons ban in the 1990s when he served in the Senate.
From his earliest days in the administration. Mr. Biden pushed Mr. Obama to do more on guns, to little avail, his advisers later said. “Even before Newtown, the vice president had wanted the administration to push harder on the issue,” Bruce Reed, Mr. Biden’s chief of staff as vice president, and still a trusted adviser, told a reporter in 2015.
The decision to tap Mr. Biden irked many of Mr. Obama’s closest advisers: They thought he needed to personally push through a series of strong measures immediately, while emotions were high, to force lawmakers to cast votes of conscience.
Five weeks after the killings, Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden announced 23 relatively modest executive actions, and called on Congress to pass three laws: universal background checks, a new assault weapons ban, and a prohibition on high-capacity gun clips.
Mr. Biden, consulting with his former colleagues in the Senate, decided the best course of action was to focus on only one element, the background checks, and persuaded progressives to settle for a limited but important initiative.
The strategy, and the bill, quickly failed.
“Eight years later, there have been plenty of thoughts and prayers, but we know that is not enough,” Mr. Biden said in December, marking the anniversary of Sandy Hook. “We will fight to end this scourge on our society and enact common sense reforms that are supported by a majority of Americans and that will save countless lives.”
Mr. Biden’s proposals, listed on his website, are strikingly similar to the reforms he proposed as vice president.
White House aides are considering a number of executive actions, including one that would impose background checks for buyers of homemade firearms that lack serial numbers, a proposal to close a loophole that allows a gun to be transferred from licensed gun dealers before a completed background check, and various plans to keep guns away from people suffering from mental illness.