Law enforcement authorities in Colorado said on Friday they do not know the motive of the suspect in the Boulder supermarket shooting that killed 10 people on March 22, including a local police officer.
The suspect in the shooting, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, is being held without bond and currently faces 10 counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. He will also be charged with additional counts of attempted murder, authorities said.
“This is just the beginning of this journey and this will be at least a year-long journey for the victims’ families and the police involved in this case,” Boulder police chief Maris Herold said at a news conference.
The FBI and Colorado state investigators are still processing a “very complex and very challenging” crime scene at the King Soopers market where the shooting occurred, Herold said.
The law enforcement response to reports of an active shooter saved lives and a Boulder police officer who exchanged gunfire with the suspect has been put on administrative leave per policy, the police chief said.
On-duty police officer Eric Talley, 51, who first responded to the shooting, was among the 10 people shot dead. Police exchanged gunfire with the alleged attacker for about 20 minutes.
“But for the actions of law enforcement, and the quick thinking by a lot of people in the supermarket, this would have been much, much worse,” said Boulder District Attorney Michael Dougherty.
“Law enforcement’s response saved additional lives from being taken” in what Dougherty described as “a devasting, horrific attack”.
“We are committed to ensuring that justice is done,” he said.
Alissa, 21, was wounded in the leg by police and briefly hospitalised after the incident. He has had a first appearance in court where he was advised of his rights by a judge. His lawyer asked for a mental health assessment.
A second hearing is to be announced next week after lawyers for the defendant and the prosecution review available evidence, Dougherty said.
Dougherty stressed the defendant has a constitutional right to a fair trial and cautioned prosecutors cannot share too much information with the public at this stage of what “will be a lengthy court process”.
Alissa passed a background check conducted by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation before buying the Ruger AR-15 style gun used in the shooting, the gun store’s owner said in a statement released on Friday, according to The Associated Press news agency.
John Mark Eagleton, owner of Eagles Nest Armory in the Denver suburb of Arvada, said his store was cooperating with authorities as they investigate the shooting.
“Ensuring every sale that occurs at our shop is lawful, has always been and will always remain the highest priority for our business,” Eagleton said.
Authorities have said Alissa bought the gun six days before Monday’s fatal attack. Alissa is from Arvada.
Dougherty confirmed at the news conference that the gun had been bought legally and said Alissa was in possession of a 9mm handgun that authorities believe was not used in the shooting.
The ATF is conducting an investigation of the firearms Alissa owned, Dougherty said.