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Boulder Shooting Suspect Passed Check In Legal Gun Purchase

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Boulder Police Department
Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold speaks at a press conference Friday morning.

Following Monday’s deadly mass shooting in Boulder, 26 federal, state and local agencies are aiding in the case.

At a press conference today, Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold said one of the biggest questions remains the motive.

“Like the rest of the community, we too want to know why — why that King Soopers, why Boulder, why Monday. And unfortunately at this time we still don’t have those answers,” Herold said.

Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty added that officials will be careful in what details they share with the public to ensure that the trial is not moved out of Boulder.

“I want to make sure that the people of Boulder have the opportunity for this trial to be held, for justice to be done here in Boulder County,” Dougherty said.

The court process is expected to take at least a year. The alleged shooter, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, had his first court appearance this week and is being held without bond. He has been charged with 10 cases of first-degree murder and one case of first-degree attempted murder. Additional charges, including attempted murder charges, are pending, Dougherty said.

The suspect bought a firearm at a local gun store after passing a background check, and he also had a second weapon with him that he didn’t use in the attack, authorities and the gun store owner said Friday.

John Mark Eagleton, owner of Eagles Nest Armory in the Denver suburb of Arvada, said in a statement that his store was cooperating with authorities as they investigate. The suspect passed a background check conducted by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation before purchasing a gun, Eagleton said.

The suspect used a Ruger AR-556 pistol, which resembles an AR-15 rifle with a slightly shorter stock, in the shooting, Herold said. An arrest affidavit says he purchased it on March 16, six days before the shooting.

He also had a 9 mm handgun, which the police chief said was not believed to have been used in the attack. Herold didn't say how he obtained it.

"We are absolutely shocked by what happened and our hearts are broken for the victims and families that are left behind. 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 in the statement.

Colorado has a universal background check law covering almost all gun sales, but misdemeanor convictions generally do not prevent people from purchasing weapons.

The suspect was convicted in 2018 of misdemeanor assault after he knocked a fellow high school student to the floor, climbed on top of him and punched him in the head several times, according to police documents. He was sentenced to probation and community service.

If he had been convicted of a felony, his gun purchase would have been prohibited under federal law.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.