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New Details Released About Boulder Mass Killer

Boulder, CO – The arrest affidavit for the mass shooter accused of murdering 10 people at a Boulder grocery store on Monday has provided new details about the killer’s activities and mental state leading up to the deadly attack.

The 21-year-old gunman has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder, FOX News reported.

Boulder Police Department (BPD) Officer Eric Talley, the first officer to arrive at the scene, was fatally shot as he ran into the store to help the victims.

BPD Chief Maris Herold identified the remaining nine victims during a press conference Tuesday morning as 20-year-old Denny Stong, 23-year-old Neven Stanisic, 25-year-old Rikki Olds, 49-year-old Tralona Bartkowiak, 59-year-old Suzanne Fountain, 51-year-old Teri Leiker, 61-year-old Kevin Mahoney, 62-year-old Lynn Murray, and 65-year-old Jody Waters.

Witnesses said the gunman was carrying “a possible AR-15” and a handgun and wearing a green tactical vest when he opened fire inside the King Soopers store at located on Mesa Drive at approximately 2:30 p.m. on March 22, the New York Daily News reported.

According to the five-page affidavit, witnesses said the attacker shot multiple people in the parking lot before heading into the store, FOX News reported.

“Employees observed the suspect shoot an elderly man in the parking lot. The suspect then walked up to the elderly man, stood over him and shot him multiple additional times,” the affidavit read, according to the New York Daily News.

Customers ran for cover as the suspect entered the store and started stalking shoppers in the refrigerated foods area, witnesses told police.

Officer Talley was shot in the head during a shootout with the gunman, according to the affidavit.

SWAT officers were able to use a ballistic shield to reach the officer and drag him out of the store during the gun battle, but he had already succumbed to his wounds, the New York Daily News reported.

The gunman, who received a “through-and-through” gunshot wound to his thigh during the shootout, allegedly stripped down to his shorts before surrendering to police, according to court documents.

“The suspect did not answer questions, though he asked to speak to his mother,” police said in the filing, according to the New York Daily News. “[The gunman] told paramedics he was not using any medications.”

The shooter’s first court appearance is slated for Thursday, the Associated Press reported.

A woman who identified herself as the gunman’s sister-in-law said that two days before the shooting, the suspect was “playing with” a gun while talking about it having a bullet stuck inside it, FOX News reported.

She told police she became upset that he was “playing with the gun in the house,” so she took it away from him, according to the affidavit.

The woman told police the weapon looked like a “machine gun” and noted it did not resemble the rifles often seen in “old Western movies,” FOX News reported.

The woman said it was possible the suspect had gotten the gun back again sometime after she took it from him, the New York Daily News reported.

Investigators said the gunman purchased a Ruger AR-556 pistol on March 16, according to court documents.

Police recovered a tactical vest, a shirt, and a semi-automatic handgun at the scene of the grocery store massacre, FOX News reported.

A senior law enforcement source told CNN that the weapon used in the mass shooting was an AR-15-style pistol equipped with an arm brace.

Investigators are still working to determine a motive for the attack.

According to the gunman’s since-deleted Facebook page, he said he was born in Syria in 1999, and that he moved to the U.S. in 2002, the Daily Beast reported.

Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty said during a press conference Tuesday that the gunman “has lived most of his life in the United States.”

Police swarmed the suspect’s multi-generational family home in Arvada in the wake of the attack, the suspect’s 34-year-old brother told the Daily Beast.

The accused gunman’s brother said he does not believe the mass shooting was intended to be “a political statement.”

“It’s mental illness,” he told the Daily Beast. “The guy used to get bullied a lot in high school. He was like an outgoing kid but after he went to high school and got bullied a lot, he started becoming anti-social.”

He also recalled the suspect having complained about someone following him while he was still in high school, the New York Daily News reported.

“When he was having lunch with my sister in a restaurant, he said, ‘People are in the parking lot, they are looking for me.’ She went out, and there was no one,” the alleged gunman’s brother said. “We didn’t know what was going on in his head.”

Court records show the gunman was previously convicted of assault charge for having punched a classmate in the head in 2017, the Daily Beast reported.

The classmate had allegedly “made fun of him and called him racial names” weeks prior to the incident, according to police.

The suspect was sentenced to probation and community service and was suspended from school after the assault, the Associated Press reported.

His former high school wrestling teammate, Angel Hernandez, described the accused gunman as “one of those guys with a short fuse,” according to the Associated Press.

“Once he gets mad, it’s like something takes over and it’s not him,” Hernandez said. “There is no stopping him at that point.”

He said the gunman was kicked of the wrestling team after he allegedly flew into a rage after losing a match during practice and threatened to kill everyone, the Associated Press reported.

“He was kind of scary to be around,” former wrestling teammate Dayton Marvel told The Denver Post. “His senior year, during the wrestle-offs to see who makes varsity, he actually lost his match and quit the team and yelled out in the wrestling room that he was, like, going to kill everybody.”

“Nobody believed him,” Marvel said. “We were just all kind of freaked out by it, but nobody did anything about it.”

Hernandez recalled times when the suspect would suddenly spin around or glance over his shoulder, thinking something was there.

“He would say, ‘Did you see that? Did you see that?'” Hernandez told the Associated Press. “We wouldn’t see anything. We always thought he was messing with us.”

Damien Cruz, who said he first met the suspect in the fifth grade, said the alleged gunman tended to be off by himself quite a bit, CNN reported.

“People chose not to mess with him because of his temper, people chose not to really talk to him because of…how he acted and things like that,” Cruz said. “So yeah, he was very alone.”

The suspect also made Facebook posts alleging that officials at his former high school were hacking into his cellphone, CNN reported.

“I believe part racism for sure,” he wrote in 2019 regarding the alleged hacking. “But I also believe someone spread rumors about me which are false and maybe that set it off.”

Marvel told The Denver Post that the suspect would speak about his Muslim faith to see how others would react.

“He would talk about him being Muslim and how if anybody tried anything, he would file a hate crime and say they were making it up,” Marvel claimed. “It was a crazy deal. I just know he was a pretty cool kid until something made him mad, and then whatever made him mad, he went over the edge — way too far.”

Hernandez said the suspect could also be very friendly and personable with people he liked.

“The sad thing about it is that if you really were to get to know him, he was a good guy,” he told The Denver Post. “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.”

“We kept a close eye on him when he was in high school,” the gunman’s brother told CNN. “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.”

He said he was stunned when he learned his brother had been arrested in the wake of the massacre.

“The entire thing surprised me,” he told CNN. “I never ever would have thought he would do such a thing. I never thought he would kill. I still can’t believe it. I am really sad for the lives that he wasted, and I feel sorry for all those families…We lost a brother even if he is the killer.”

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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