Colorado police are still trying to understand why a gunman opened fire on Monday and killed 10 people on Monday at a King Soopers grocery store in the city of Boulder, they said during a press conference on Friday.
“Like the rest of the community, we too want to know why,” Boulder police chief Maris Herold said."Why that King Soopers? Why Boulder? Why Monday? And unfortunately at this time, we still don’t have those answers.”
She said it would be “haunting for all of us” until they are able to establish why the shootings happened.
Officials said a team of more than 150 personnel from local and state law enforcement agencies, as well as teams from the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, are working on the case, many combing through the store and surrounding parking lot for clues, which chief Herold described as “one the most complex crime scenes I’ve ever worked.”
What they do know so far, according to district attorney Michael Doughterty, was that the police response saved numerous lives, and that the shooting, the second mass shooting in a week in the US, could have been“much, much worse” without them. Officers arrived at the scene around 2.40pm and faced a “very significant amount of gunfire” as they entered the store.
“There was a danger to civilians still in the supermarket, and significant danger to the community,” he said. “That danger ended because of the actions of law enforcement.”
The suspect, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 21, who faces 10 first-degree murder charges and likely more counts to come, allegedly used a Ruger semi-automatic pistol during the shooting which he legally purchased at a gun store in his nearby hometown of Arvada, Colorado.
Officials said they were still probing any potential links to terrorism, and declined to comment on whether a high-capacity magazine was used in the shooting.
They also warned the investigation and trial process could last at least a year.
Mr Alissa appeared in court for the first time on Thursday, where his attorneys said they needed time to investigate the extent mental illness played a role.
“We cannot begin to assess the nature and depth of Mr. Alissa’s mental illness until we have the discovery from the government,” Kathryn Herold, one of Mr Alissa’s lawyers, said.
The suspect only spoke once in court, responding “yes” when a judge asked if he understood the charges against him.