- Ahmad Alissa, 21, was identified as the suspect in the mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado.
- Alissa faces 10 counts of first-degree murder in connection to the shooting at King Soopers grocery.
- His family and former classmates described him as a “loner” who was paranoid and had a short fuse.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 21, has been identified as the suspect in the Monday mass shooting at a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, that left 10 people dead.
Alissa was injured in the shooting and spent one night in the hospital before being transported to the Boulder County Jail on Tuesday, where he is being held on 10 counts of murder.
“We are going to do everything in our power to make sure this suspect has a thorough trial,” Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold said Tuesday.
Alissa is due to make his first court appearance on Thursday morning.
—Boulder Police Dept. (@boulderpolice) March 23, 2021
Authorities said the police had not yet identified a motive. Court documents said Alissa had purchased a rifle six days before the shooting, the Associated Press reported.
Helicopter footage on Monday showed a man being taken from the store.
In an affidavit for an arrest warrant reviewed by Insider, Detective Sarah Cantu wrote that Alissa had removed all his clothing and was dressed only in shorts when he was arrested outside the market. He had blood on his right thigh, Cantu said.
Alissa lives in Arvada, a city 30 minutes south of Boulder. CNN reported that Alissa was born in Syria in 1999, and that his family immigrated to the US in 2002.
The affidavit said a woman who recently married Alissa’s older brother told the police that she had seen him in the family’s home a few days earlier playing with a weapon she described as a “machine gun.”
Investigators learned that Alissa had purchased a Ruger AR-556 pistol on March 16, the affidavit said.
An ‘anti-social’ man who lived in his parents’ basement
Alissa’s brother, Ali Aliwi Alissa, told The Daily Beast that Alissa was “bullied a lot in high school,” which made him “anti-social.”
Ali Alissa added to the outlet that the shooting was “not at all a political statement” but the result of “mental illness.”
It was not clear whether Alissa had been diagnosed with a mental illness, and authorities have not disclosed a motive. Researchers have long said that mental illness is not an indicator of violence; people with mental illnesses are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrate it.
A man identifying himself as Alissa’s brother-in-law told The Sun the suspected shooter was “strange,” saying he was a “loner” who would sit away from everyone during family dinners. Insider was not able to independently confirm the man’s relation to Alissa.
“He has a reputation for being stupid, not smart,” Usame Almusa told the outlet. “He was not like a proper Muslim, I don’t know what kind of Muslim he was. He did not go to the mosque I go to.”
Almusa added that Alissa lived in his parents’ basement and worked at the family’s Middle Eastern restaurant, The Sun reported.
Ali Alissa told CNN said that his brother had paranoia, which started in 2014.
“He would say, ‘Someone is chasing me, someone is investigating me,'” Ali Alissa told CNN. “And we’re like, ‘Come on man. There’s nothing.’ … He was just closing into himself.”
A former wrestling teammate also witnessed this paranoia.
“He was always talking about [how] people were looking at him and there was no one ever where he was pointing people out,” Angel Hernandez told The Denver Post.
His paranoia was further on display on Facebook, where he espoused the belief that his high school was tapping his phone, according to CNN and The Denver Post. When asked why they would be doing this, he said he believed “racism” was partially to blame, both reports said. (CNN confirmed that a Facebook profile, which has since been taken down, belonged to Alissa, through his brother and a classmate.)
Alissa also expressed anti-LGBTQ beliefs and warned against too much government control in other posts, according to The Denver Post.
A history of violence
Following Alissa’s arrest, The Daily Beast reported that in 2017, the suspect had brutally attacked a high school classmate, leaving the victim “bleeding from the nose,” and “crying and throwing up,” according to a police report.
Witnesses told police that Alissa seemingly attacked the classmate out of the blue at the end of a math class, pummeling the victim, who didn’t fight back. Alissa later claimed that the victim had been bullying him, though he had not reported the bullying to the school and witnesses said they were not aware of any bad blood between the two, the police report said.
According to The Daily Beast, Alissa pleaded guilty to third-degree assault and was sentenced to two months probation and 48 hours of community service after that episode.
Alissa’s temper was also witnessed by his high-school wrestling teammates.
Teammate Dayton Marvel told The Denver Post that Alissa was “kind of scary to be around” and once had an outburst during an intra-team match where he threatened to kill people.”
Marvel added that Alissa was especially sensitive about his faith, saying: “He would talk about him being Muslim and how if anybody tried anything, he would file a hate crime and say they were making it up.”
Another former wrestling teammate, identified only as Conrad, told The Daily Beast that he was surprised by the news but described Alissa as having a short fuse.
“One thing I can tell you is he didn’t take losing very well,” the man said. “I remember that in wrestling. He would throw his headgear, wouldn’t talk to the coaches when he lost. If I remember correctly, even cussed out one of the coaches one time.”
The victims in the shooting have been identified as Denny Stong, 20; Neven Stanisic, 23; Rikki Olds, 25; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Teri Leiker, 51; Eric Talley, 51, a police officer; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; and Jody Waters, 65.
“The killer, his name will live in infamy,” District Attorney Michael Dougherty said. “Today let us remember the victims.”
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