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Colorado City Of Boulder Is In Mourning After Gunman Kills 10 People


Of the people shot at a Boulder, Colo., supermarket, the youngest was 20, the oldest 65. They included a police officer who was a father of seven. Another man who was killed walked his daughter down the aisle last summer. She remembers playing with her dad for hours as a child. In total, 10 people were killed in the attack that authorities naturally want to understand, although a mass shooting by definition will never make any sense. Authorities have charged a 21-year-old man from suburban Denver. And NPR's Kirk Siegler is on the line with details from Boulder. Hi there, Kirk.

KIRK SIEGLER, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: How are police and reporters like you going about trying to learn about the suspect?

SIEGLER: We'll start with the police. You know, they initially cautioned that this investigation could take five days or maybe more. And authorities here are basically pleading with the public and the news media saying, let us do our work and be patient. And for now, it appears that there's no obvious connection between this gunman, Ahmad Alissa, and this grocery store. You know, his family lived 20 miles away from here near Denver. I spent much of yesterday outside their house there hoping someone would come out and at least give a statement. That didn't happen. But according to the AP, a law enforcement official says now that the suspect's family told investigators that he'd suffered from delusions. But it's too early to have any idea what his motives might have been. Alissa was born in Syria but has lived here in the U.S. most of his life. Steve, he went to high school in the Denver suburbs and he was a high school wrestler.

INSKEEP: OK, some of the spare facts that are emerging. And are more facts emerging about how the shooting itself evolved?

SIEGLER: Some. Here's what we know. Authorities believe the gunman started shooting outside the store and made his way in, of course, and also there was a lot of gunfire inside. There was a standoff with the veteran Boulder police officer, Eric Talley, who was killed. We do know now from investigators that the suspect bought an assault rifle last week. We don't know where. We don't know if it was purchased legally yet. But we do know it occurred that he bought it on March 16, according to investigators. It's the same day as the Atlanta shooting. Steve, we have no indication to think at this point that that's anything more than a coincidence. But investigators, you know, are looking at everything as they try to figure out why he went into the store and killed so many people.

INSKEEP: OK, so a few bits of information that authorities are working with. What are you hearing from people in and around Boulder as that investigation continues?

SIEGLER: Well, as you can imagine, people are shocked, they're angry, they're grieving. This is a city that is traumatized. You know, I've covered all too many of these mass shootings, including here in Colorado. And their aftermath follows the same grim script. Outside the makeshift memorial by the grocery store, I met Jason Woods (ph). He shops at the King Soopers all the time. And he told me he's sad and confused.

JASON WOODS: I think everyone that goes through this is like, why here, you know? Why now? My my mom was actually in the store 45 minutes before the shooting happened. So it's been really hard to process.

SIEGLER: And, you know, this is a liberal college town, Boulder, within a state that has passed stricter gun laws after so many mass shootings. Earlier this month even, a judge here overturned the city of Boulder's local assault weapons ban and stricter limits on large capacity magazines. So there's frustration over that. Outside the grocery store, I met Edgar Pereya (ph). He also lives in the neighborhood, and here's what he said.

EDGAR PEREYA: White people, they want big guns, you know? For what? For what? They're going to carry those guns in the city. They don't need it. Those guns are for cops.

SIEGLER: So a lot of frustration and anger here in a state where mass shootings have been so common - Columbine, the Aurora movie theater massacre in 2012 and the shooting at a Planned Parenthood in 2015, to name just a few.

INSKEEP: NPR's Kirk Siegler, thanks so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

As a correspondent on NPR's national desk, Kirk Siegler covers rural life, culture and politics from his base in Boise, Idaho.