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Suspect in Boulder mass shooting was arrested for attack on Arvada West High School classmate

Other than his arrest in the 2017 high school assault, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa did not have a criminal record in Colorado

The parking lot around a King Soopers in Boulder, Colorado is cordoned off for police investigation the day after a shooter opened fire, killing 10 people. March 23, 2021. (Lucy Haggard, The Colorado Sun)
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The 21-year-old Arvada man accused of killing 10 people in a Boulder King Soopers on Monday was arrested for attacking a classmate at Arvada West High School in 2017.

Arrest documents from the encounter say Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa stood up in a classroom, walked over to the victim and “cold cocked” him in the head.

When the victim fell to the floor, Alissa got on top of him and punched him in the head several more times. 

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“No witnesses could see or hear any reason for (Alissa) to hit (the victim,” the documents say. “(Alissa) said (the victim) had made fun of him and called him racial names weeks earlier.”

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Alissa pleaded guilty to third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, and was sentenced to probation and 48 hours of community service.

A Colorado background check on Alissa revealed only one more criminal case involving him. He was ticketed for traffic infractions in 2017 and pleaded guilty to violating a driver’s license restriction. 

Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa. (Handout)

Boulder police Chief Maris Herold said the suspect did not appear to be known to officers prior to Monday’s shooting. 

Alissa is being held at the Boulder County jail without bond. Court officials say his first appearance before a judge is set for 8:15 a.m. on Thursday.

Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty said Alissa “lived most of his life in the United States.”

Ali Aliwi Alissa, the suspect’s brother, told CNN that his family emigrated from Syria and that his brother may have been suffering from mental illness.

“He always suspected someone was behind him, someone was chasing him,” Ali Aliwi Alissa, who lived with his younger brother in Arvada, told CNN.

The Alissas’ home is about 30 minutes south of the Table Mesa King Soopers. It’s in an upscale neighborhood near the West Woods Golf Course. 

Jeffco Public Schools says the alleged gunman attended Arvada West High School beginning in March 2015 until he graduated in May 2018. He was on the wrestling team for the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years.

Facebook said in a written statement that it is in contact with law enforcement about Alissa.

“We have removed accounts for the identified suspect from Facebook and Instagram,” the company said in a written statement. “We will remove any additional accounts belonging to the suspect or accounts created by others in his name if we find on them our services.”

Arrest documents from the King Soopers shooting released Tuesday morning say the alleged gunman had a green tactical vest, a rifle and a semiautomatic handgun with him when he allegedly launched his rampage. 

A woman who lived at the same Arvada home as the suspect told investigators she had seen him “playing with a gun she thought looked like a ‘machine gun’” just days before the shooting.

Law enforcement databases revealed the alleged shooter purchased a Ruger AR-556 firearm on March 16, the documents say. The documents don’t say if that weapon was used in the King Soopers shooting.

The documents also provided details on Monday’s attack, but not a motive.

“(King Soopers) employees observed the suspect shoot an elderly man in the parking lot,” the suspect’s arrest affidavit says. “The suspect then walked up to the elderly man, stood over him and shot him multiple additional times.”

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The alleged gunman did not answer investigators’ questions at first after the mass shooting, though he did ask to speak to his mother. He was arrested at 3:28 p.m., about 50 minutes after the shooting began.

“Why did this happen?” said Dougherty, the district attorney. “We don’t have the answer to that yet.” 


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