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21-year-old man charged with gunning down 10 people

AFP/Boulder
Filed on March 23, 2021
Police officers secure the perimeter of the King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado after reports of a shooter. Photo: AFP

The suspect is in hospital after being shot in an exchange of fire with police.

A 21-year-old man was charged Tuesday with gunning 10 people down in a Colorado grocery store, as America reeled from its second mass shooting in less than a week -- sparking urgent new calls for gun control.

The suspect, named as Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, was in hospital after being shot in an exchange of fire with officers following the attack on King Soopers in Boulder County, 30 miles (50 kilometers) northwest of the state capital Denver, on Monday afternoon.

"He is charged with 10 counts of murder in the first degree and will be shortly transported to Boulder county jail," Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold told a press conference.

The police chief also read out, one by one, the names of the 10 people killed in the attack, men and women aged from 20 to 65 who included a police officer who was a father of seven.

"Boulder county is a small community -- we're all looking over the list. Do we know anybody?" said Governor Jared Polis at the press conference.

"None of them expected that this would be their last day here on the planet."

Addressing the same press conference, Boulder District Attorney Michael Dougherty vowed that "the killer's name will live in infamy."

"We will make sure that the suspect is held accountable for what he did to them yesterday," he said.

The massacre came less than a week after another gunman shot dead eight people at multiple spas in the Georgia state capital Atlanta. The suspect in that case is also facing murder charges.

Together the killings ignited new calls for US politicians to act against the country's notoriously lax gun ownership laws.

Tighter gun control is overwhelmingly popular with Americans -- and backed by President Joe Biden -- but Republicans have long stood against what a minority view as any infringement on their right to bear arms.

With a Senate Judiciary hearing on the subject already scheduled for Tuesday, the familiar bipartisan divide was emerging once more.

"Too many families in too many places are being forced to endure this unfathomable pain and anguish," the top Democrat in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, said in a statement.

"Action is needed now to prevent this scourge from continuing to ravage our communities," she said.

Biden, who is due to speak on the Boulder tragedy later Tuesday, has ordered White House flags to be flown at half mast, his office said.

Biden said last month he wanted Congress to pass laws that would require background checks on all gun sales and ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

"This administration will not wait for the next mass shooting to heed that call," he said at the time.

Witnesses at Colorado supermarket said they initially heard multiple loud bangs outside the shop.

"I just nearly got killed for getting a soda and a bag of chips," Ryan Borowski, who was in the store when he heard at least eight gunshots, told CNN.

"It doesn't feel like there's anywhere safe anymore."

Among the 10 people killed was a police officer, 51-year-old Eric Talley, who was the first on the scene.

Colorado has previously suffered two of the most infamous mass shootings in US history -- at Columbine High School in 1999, and at a movie theater in Aurora in 2012.

Those massacres prompted nationwide soul-searching but did not result in major changes to gun laws.





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