Colorado Bleeds Blue – A Report of the Boulder King Soopers Shooting

Colorado Bleeds Blue - A Report of the Boulder King Soopers Shooting

Joshua Ludski-Lee, Reporter

On March 22nd, 2021 at around 2:30pm, Ahmad Al Aliwi Al-Issa opened fire in the King Soopers parking lot on Table Mesa Dr. in Boulder. Boulder police were dispatched to the scene about ten minutes later, and were later backed by SWAT teams and police from surrounding areas. The gunman moved inside the store, killing ten people (including Boulder Police officer Eric Talley) in what is the highest-casualty shooting in Colorado since 2012.

 

Al-Issa was wearing tactical gear and carried  a semi-automatic handgun alongside the semi-automatic pistol he used during the shooting. There were about 115 people in the building and 25 in the parking lot at the time of the shooting. King Soopers employees helped people escape through loading bays at the back of the store. Police broke the front of the store with an armored vehicle and had a shootout with Al-Issa, during which he was shot in the leg. Al-Issa was treated at a hospital before being transported to the Boulder County Jail. About 15 departments were involved in the response to the shooting, and the surrounding area was put into a shelter-in-place order. The Table Mesa Dr. King Soopers store remains closed indefinitely. 

 

Al-Issa is a 21 year old US citizen born in Syria. He emigrated to the US in 2002 and attended US high school. His family had concerns for his mental health after he faced bullying in school. Al-Issa was reported to have attacked a student in 2018, was given a misdemeanor, and pleaded guilty to assault. He purchased the gun used at the shooting on March 15th, 2021. In response to the shooting, he was initially charged with 10 counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. His charges were later increased, and his next court appearance is scheduled for the 25th of May. Al-Issa would serve life without parole if found guilty (Wikipedia).

 

Gun violence in the US is an undisputed problem, but the solutions are contentious and politically charged. Guns rights activists and organizations like the NRA (National Rifle Association) take the word of the constitution above all – believing that the right to bear arms is essential and makes the US safer. Conversely, President Joe Biden called for a ban on assault weapons after the Boulder shooting. People like Barack Obama stood with Biden. 73% of homicides in the US were gun-related. THis compares to 39% in Canada, and just 4% in England and Wales (BBC). In comparison, estimates show that the US has more guns per 100 people than anywhere else in the world – at 120.5 guns per person in 2018. 

 

Officer Eric Talley joined the Boulder Police department in 2010, and was the first officer on the scene at the shooting. He was 51 years old, and has a wife and seven children. A public funeral service was held for Talley in Lafayette to honor his sacrifice, and the nonprofit organization Tunnels to Towers is going to pay off the mortgage on Talley’s home. 

 

The community responded in shock to the shooting. Officer Talley’s body was led in procession to a funeral home, and Coloradans waved him down the road. Governor Jared Polis echoed the thoughts of many, saying “I’ve shopped at that King Soopers many times…”. He also said that “we’re all looking at the list wondering if we know people”. People put flowers by the fence that now surrounds the closed King Soopers. President Biden ordered federal flags to be flown at half mast, just six days after the shootings in Atlanta that killed eight. There was a sense of shock and fear in the community during the period after the shooting – Colorado, and the US, had been struck by gun violence yet again. The victims of the shooting are as follows: Tralona Bartkowiak, 49, Suzanne Fountain, 59, Teri Leiker, 51, Kevin Mahoney, 61, Lynn Murray, 62, Rikki Olds, 25, Neven Stanisic, 23, Denny Stong, 20, Eric Talley, 51, and Jody Waters, 65. May they rest in peace.