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Officials search for motive behind Boulder mass shooting

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Investigators are searching for a motive in the Boulder supermarket rampage. The suspect will make his first court appearance Thursday. Jonathan Vigliotti has the latest.

Video Transcript

MARGARET BRENNAN: Good evening, and thank you for joining us. Norah is off tonight. I'm Margaret Brennan. We're gonna begin with the search for a motive in that Colorado massacre. The 21-year-old accused of opening fire at a Boulder supermarket Monday will make his first court appearance tomorrow, charged with 10 counts of murder.

Tonight, sources tell CBS News that investigators still don't know what drove Ahmad Alissa to kill, but they are now focusing on his mental health. Former classmates paint a portrait of a volatile young man with an explosive temper, one teacher telling police he attacked another student with a look of pure anger. We're also learning more about the victims and hearing from a survivor who worked inside that store and lost his girlfriend in the carnage.

Meantime, here in Washington, the White House is pushing ahead with gun reform, saying that if Congress won't act, President Biden will consider several executive actions, including one to strengthen background checks. We'll get to that in a moment. But first, CBS's Jonathan Vigliotti is going to lead our coverage tonight from Colorado. Good evening, Jonathan.

JONATHAN VIGLIOTTI: Margaret, tonight police are building a profile of their suspect. They're looking at everything from his behavior on the day of the shooting at this market to his past run-ins with the law.

According to police, 21-year-old Ahmad Alissa, seen here after the shooting, dropped his weapons and removed all of his clothes, except for his shorts, before he was taken into custody. Asked by police then if anyone else was involved, he only answered by asking to talk to his mother.

This was not the first encounter with police. In 2018, while in high school, Alissa was convicted of misdemeanor assault for beating up a fellow student. He said he had been bullied by the student for a year because of his Middle Eastern background. Although dozens of witnesses said the attack was unprovoked, he said he was so angry he blacked out.

KAYLI PORTERFIELD: He threatened that he was gonna kill everyone, and no one actually took it seriously.

JONATHAN VIGLIOTTI: 10 people from the Boulder community lost their lives on Monday.

CLINT PONSFORD: There's a shooter, active shooter, somewhere.

JONATHAN VIGLIOTTI: Clint Ponsford was seen on a live stream, standing at the entrance. He wanted to run inside, for good reason.

Why did you want to get into the grocery store that day?

CLINT PONSFORD: Looking for my girlfriend Terry, make sure she was OK.

JONATHAN VIGLIOTTI: Ponsford met his girlfriend, Terry Leikert, 30 years ago there on the job. They are both autistic and bonded instantly while bagging groceries. And it was here on the job Monday he says he lost his best friend.

What did you love most about her? What are you gonna miss most?

CLINT PONSFORD: Being with her, doing things with their.

JONATHAN VIGLIOTTI: Ponsford saw the gunman shoot his first victim outside before carrying out his rampage inside.

What's your message to those people out there that want to hurt others?

CLINT PONSFORD: Show people how they should be treated, lovely ways.

JONATHAN VIGLIOTTI: Lovely ways that, for Ponsford, began and ended in the aisles of a grocery store.

And today, this afternoon, the community gathered to pay tribute and to remember Officer Eric Talley. Again, he leaves behind seven children. The suspect faces 10 counts of murder and life in prison if found guilty. Margaret?

MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you, Jonathan.