BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — The suspect in the Colorado supermarket shootings bought a gun before the shooting at a local gun store after passing a background check, the store’s owner said Friday.
John Mark Eagleton, owner of Eagles Nest Armory in the Denver suburb of Arvada, said in a statement that his store was cooperating with authorities as they investigate the Monday shooting that killed 10 people, including a police officer.
Eagleton said the suspect in the shooting, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, passed a background check conducted by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation before purchasing the firearm.
“We are absolutely shocked by what happened and our hearts are broken for the victims and families that are left behind. Ensuring every sale that occurs at our shop is lawful, has always been and will always remain the highest priority for our business,” Eagleton said in the statement.
The statement added: “Regarding the firearm in question, a background check of the purchaser was conducted as required by Colorado law and approval for the sale was provided by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. We have and will continue to fully cooperate with law enforcement as their investigation continues.”
Alissa was convicted in 2018 of misdemeanor assault after he knocked a fellow high school student to the floor, climbed on top of him and punched him in the head several times, according to police documents. He was sentenced to probation and community service.
Colorado has a universal background check law covering almost all gun sales, but misdemeanor convictions generally do not prevent people from purchasing weapons. If Alissa had been convicted of a felony, his gun purchase would’ve been prohibited under federal law.
According to the arrest affidavit, Alissa bought a Ruger AR-556 pistol - which resembles an AR-15 rifle with a slightly shorter stock.
According to two law enforcement officials, Alissa was born in Syria in 1999, emigrated to the U.S. as a toddler and later became a U.S. citizen. He would need to be a citizen to buy a gun. The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
An AR-15-style gun recovered inside the supermarket was believed to have been used in the attack, said a law enforcement official briefed on the shooting who was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
The suspect’s next hearing will not be scheduled for two to three months to allow the defense to evaluate his mental state and evidence collected by investigators.
He is charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder for allegedly shooting at a police officer who was not hurt.
Associated Press writers Jim Anderson in Denver, Patty Nieberg in Boulder, Bernard Condon in New York, Michael Balsamo and Colleen Long in Washington and AP staff members from around the U.S. contributed to this report. Nieberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.
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