By Anand Vasu
A gunman opened fire at a King Soopers outlet in Boulder, Colo., at approximately 2.40pm local time on Monday, March 22, killing 10, including police officer Eric Talley, who responded to the incident. Boulder is about 25 miles northwest of Denver.
Shoppers and employees ran for cover, escaping through loading docks and an employee stock area, and took shelter until law enforcement, armed with tactical rifles, could secure the area.
The suspected assailant, identified on Tuesday morning as 21-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa from Arvada, a Denver suburb, was charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder. He was shot and wounded in the incident and taken into custody and has since been stabilized in hospital. Earlier videos showed the suspect, shirtless and with his right leg covered in blood, being escorted from the scene in handcuffs.
The Boulder Police Department later released a booking photo of the alleged shooter.
No motive had been attributed to the killings.
The list of victims is as follows:
Denny Stong, 20
Nevin Stanasic, 23
Rikki Olds, 25
Tralona Bartkowiak, 49
Suzanne Fountain, 59
Teri Leiker, 51
Officer Eric Talley, 51
Kevin Mahoney, 61
Lynn Murray, 62
Jody Waters, 65
“I want to say to the community, I am so sorry this incident happened,” Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold said, barely holding back tears, in a briefing in which she named the assailant and read out the named of victims. “We are going to do everything in our power to make sure this suspect has a thorough trial and we do a thorough investigation.”
At the time of writing this, it was believed that both Ms. Leiker and Ms. Olds were King Soopers’ employees. Local media stated that Ms. Leiker had worked there 31 years, while a statement from Ms. Olds’s aunt stated her niece had been a front-end manager at the supermarket.
Michael Dougherty, Boulder County District Attorney, said that he would work with his team to ensure that justice was served. “I promise you that all of us here will work tirelessly to support you and help you through this process, and also to make sure that the killer is held … fully accountable,” he said.
Homer Talley, the father of the fallen police officer, said his son had been training to be a drone operator so that he would be off the front lines. “He took his job as a police officer very seriously,” Mr. Talley said in a statement. “He had seven children. The youngest is 7 years old. He loved his kids and his family more than anything.”
Kerry Yamaguchi, the Boulder Police Department Commander, added that the intervention of officer Talley, a 11-year patrol veteran, was critical to saving lives. “Without that quick response, we don’t know if there would have been more loss of life,” said Commander Yamaguchi.
People in the supermarket at the time described scenes of chaos and horror. “I thought I was going to die,” Alex Arrelano, who works at the outlet, was quoted as saying by The New York Times. “The shots are getting closer. I’m thinking of my parents, and I was freaking out. We were scared, ’cause, you know, there’s entry points where that individual could show up.” Sarah Moonshadow, a customer at the supermarket, was at the checkout when the shooting happened. “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, adding that two shots were fired in her direction as she made it out to safety with her young son.
The FBI was assisting Boulder Police in investigations and the White House said that President Biden had been briefed about developments. Vice President Kamala Harris commented on the shooting in Washington on Tuesday morning, while talking to the media after the ceremonial swearing in of CIA Director William Burns. “It’s absolutely baffling,” said VP Harris. “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.”
Over the years, Colorado has been the scene of several mass shootings that have shaken the community, beginning with the Columbine massacre on April 20, 1999, when two students entered the high school in Littleton, fatally shot a teacher and 12 students, wounded more than 20 others, and then turned their guns on themselves. On July 20, 2012, then 24-year-old James Holmes set off tear gas grenades and fired into the crowd at a multiplex in Aurora during the screening of “The Dark Knight Rises,” killing 12 and wounding 70.
On Oct. 31, 2015, three people were randomly gunned down on a residential street in downtown Colorado Springs and 28 days later, a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Colorado Springs was the scene of another shooting in which two civilians and a police officer were shot dead. In 2017 an officer was gunned down in a standoff with a sheriff’s deputy, who had barricaded himself in an apartment.
This was the second mass shooting in the US in a week. Just days ago, eight individuals, six of whom were women of Asian descent, were shot and killed in spas across Atlanta, as rising attacks against Asian-Americans left communities worried.