Updated: 2:54 PM PDT, March 24, 2021
The suspect in Colorado’s mass shooting at a grocery store that killed 10 people is being described as delusional and prone to sudden outbursts of rage by family members and law enforcement officials.
Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 21, has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder in Tuesday’s massacre in Boulder at King Soopers market. His first court appearance is scheduled for Thursday.
Alissa had bought an assault weapon six days before the rampage, according to his arrest affidavit. A motive has not been established, said Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty.
Alissa’s family told investigators he was having delusions and appeared to be mentally ill, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the shooting, The Associated Press reported. Relatives also said the suspect reported that people were following him or chasing him, according to the official, who spoke to The AP on condition of anonymity, the wire service said.
The suspect’s sister-in-law told investigators she had seen him playing with a weapon that looked like a “machine gun” days before the shooting, according to the affidavit.
As a high school senior in 2018, Alissa was found guilty of assaulting a fellow student, knocking him to the ground and repeatedly punching him in the head, according to the court document.
He “got up in classroom, walked over to the victim [and] ‘cold cocked’ him in the head,” the affidavit said. Alissa said the student had called him “racial names” weeks earlier, according to the document. Alissa was suspended from the school and sentenced to probation and community service.
The suspect, who was born in Syria but spent most of his life in the U.S., is Muslim, authorities said.
“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,” said Dayton Marvel, who was on the wrestling team with Alissa, the Denver Post reported. “It was a crazy deal. I just know he was a pretty cool kid until something made him mad, and then whatever made him mad, he went over the edge — way too far.”
Another former high school wrestling teammate, Angel Hernandez, said Alissa once threatened to kill everyone after losing a practice match, The AP reported. The coach kicked Alissa off the team for that, Hernandez said.
“He was one of those guys with a short fuse. Once he gets mad, it’s like something takes over and it’s not him. There is no stopping him at that point,” Hernandez said.