BOULDER, Colo. — Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, a 21-year-old Arvada resident, has been identified by authorities in Boulder, Colorado to be the suspect in the King Soopers grocery store shooting that resulted in the death of 10 patrons on Monday.
An arrest warrant charging Alissa with 10 counts of murder described him as having worn a “tactical vest” and being armed with an AR556 pistol. Alissa had purchased the firearm six days prior, on March 16, authorities say. The man allegedly walked through the grocery store, gunning down 10 people including a 51-year-old police officer, before exiting with his hands up in only his underwear.
Upon being led away by law enforcement, Alissa reportedly asked them for his mother.
Members of the Alissa family say Ahmad, who immigrated to the United States from Syria at the age of three, was bullied in high school for his Islamic faith and unique name – causing the then-teenager to develop antisocial personality traits.
In 2014, at the age of 14, Alissa began covering his web camera with duct-tape, believing someone was spying on him. Alissa believed he was being chased in high school.
“We kept a close eye on him when he was in high school. He would say, ‘Someone is chasing me, someone is investigating me.’ And we’re like, ‘Come on man. There’s nothing.’ … He was just closing into himself,” Alissa’s brother told CNN.
Alissa attended Arvada high school from 2015 to 2018, graduating with a GED, according to Jefferson County Public Schools. A school spokesperson confirmed he was on the school’s wrestling team his junior and senior years.
Despite his membership on the team, his teammates didn’t seem to get along with him very well.
“He was kind of scary to be around,” said Dayton Marvel, a teammate on the wrestling team. Alissa had once threatened to kill people following an intra-team match, Marvel said. Alissa had lost the match that would’ve determined his placement into the wrestling program’s varsity team.
“He actually lost his match and quit the team and yelled out in the wrestling room that he was, like, going to kill everybody,” Marvel said. “Nobody believed him. We were just all kind of freaked out by it, but nobody did anything about it.”
Another wrestling teammate, Angel Hernandez, said Alissa had a nice side to him, alongside the anger issues.
“The sad thing about it is that if you really were to get to know him, he was a good guy,” Hernandez said. “Whenever you went up to him, he was always so joyful and so nice. But you could tell there was a dark side in him. If he did get ticked off about something, within a split second, it was like if something takes over, like a demon. He’d just unleash all his anger.”
In 2017, Alissa was arrested for attacking a high school classmate. An arrest report says Alissa walked across the room and “cold-clocked” his fellow student in the head.
When the victim fell to the floor, the report says, Alissa got on top of him and continued to punch him.
“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.”
The classmate suffered cuts and bruises to his face, and Alissa was convicted on a misdemeanor count of third-degree assault. The then-highschool-senior was sentenced to probation and 48 hours of community service.
Despite this apparent history of violence, Alissa’s brother told CNN he had never seen him threaten violence against anyone.
Alissa’s arrest warrant says his sister-in-law told authorities that she caught him “playing with a gun she thought looked like a ‘machine gun’ about 2 days ago. She did not believe the gun looked like the rifles she has seen in old Western movies. . . . Alissa had been talking about having a bullet stuck in the gun and was playing with the gun.” records said.
Alissa was booked into the Boulder County Jail early Tuesday afternoon. His social media accounts, which also included complaints of paranoia and account hacking, have been shut down by their respective companies.
He’s scheduled to appear in court later this week.