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Boulder shooting sparks calls for gun control as friends and family mourn victims

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Officials search for motive behind Boulder mass shooting
Officials search for motive behind Boulder ma... 03:26

Friends and family members of the Boulder shooting victims shared memories of their lost loved ones as the second mass shooting in less than a week sparked new calls for changes to the country's gun laws. Vice President Kamala Harris backed those calls on "CBS This Morning," urging Congress to pass "reasonable gun safety laws." 

"There is no reason why we have assault weapons on the streets of a civil society," Harris said Wednesday. "They are weapons of war. They are designed to kill a lot of people quickly."

Accused gunman Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa bought an assault weapon on March 16, according to an arrest affidavit, but it's not yet clear if that weapon was used during the shooting. The 21-year-old, who's been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder, is expected to make his first court appearance Thursday. Authorities haven't announced a suspected motive for the rampage.

The victims were identified earlier this week as Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Teri Leiker, 51; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; Rikki Olds, 25; Neven Stanisic, 23; Denny Stong, 20; Officer Eric Talley, 51; and Jody Waters, 65. 

"There's a hole in our family that won't be filled," Rikki Olds' uncle said.

Supermarket Shooting
Mourners embrace on March 23, 2021, along a fence put up around the parking lot where a mass shooting took place at a King Soopers grocery store the day before, in Boulder, Colorado. David Zalubowski/AP
 

Boulder mayor says he received call from Biden

Boulder Mayor Sam Weaver said President Biden called him Wednesday to express his condolences to the Colorado community and offer his support after a gunman killed 10 people in a King Soopers grocery store. 

"He expressed his deepest sympathies to all of Boulder, specifically as well to the victims' families and also called out Officer [Eric] Talley by name for his heroic efforts and sacrifice that he made," Weaver said in a City Council meeting that focused on the tragedy. 

"I do want everyone in Boulder to know we have a leader of our country who feels the pain that Boulderites have experienced. He sympathizes with our loss and he intends to work with us to try and bring change to the laws that govern the weapons that killed the people in our community," he said.

By Caitlin Yilek
 

Governor Jared Polis visits community memorial

Colorado Governor Jared Polis visited the community memorial near the King Soopers supermarket on Wednesday to pay his respects to the victims. Photos obtained by CBS Denver show the governor kneeling in front of a #BoulderStrong banner for a moment of silence.

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Colorado Governor Jared Polis kneels for a moment of silence to commemorate the victims of the March 22, 2021 shooting at a Boulder super market. CBS Denver
By Victoria Albert
 

Colorado police pay tribute to slain officer Eric Talley

Members of law enforcement in Colorado lined up along Highway 36 to pay tribute to Eric Talley, who was killed in the line of duty in Monday's shooting. 

Videos and photos tweeted by the Westminster Police Department and the Broomfield Police Department showed officers standing outside their vehicles as the hearse carrying Talley passed by. 

"Thank you for your service and sacrifice," Broomfield police tweeted. "It will never be forgotten." 

Talley was the first to respond to the shooting and was fatally shot, Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold said during a news conference earlier this week. 

The 51-year-old officer was the father of seven. He was an 11-year veteran of the department. 

By Caitlin Yilek
 

"The best, most beautiful person": Family mourns mother's death

The family of Lynn Murray, one of the victims of the shooting, shared their memories of the "best, most beautiful person" with CBS Denver on Tuesday. 

"She was amazing, just the best, most beautiful person in the world…" said her 24-year-old daughter, Olivia. "She didn't deserve to die like that." 

Murray, 62, previously worked as a photo editor for Glamour and Cosmopolitan, the family said. At the time of her death, she was working as an Instacart shopper. 

"She's the most remarkable human being I've ever known. I feel incredibly blessed to have had the time that I had," said her husband John. 

"It was like a comet going across the sky for 62 years… amazing to watch," he said. 

By Victoria Albert
 

White House mulls executive action amid gun reform resistance

While the Biden administration is backing gun reform in the wake of the shooting, congressional Republicans are resisting reforms — even rejecting measures to strengthen background checks, which most Americans support. 

With legislation unlikely, the White House is considering at least three executive actions: closing a loophole that allows unlicensed gun dealers to avoid conducting background checks, blocking the sale of gun making kits and providing more funding to fight gun violence.

White House mulls executive action on gun ref... 01:47
By Weijia Jiang
 

Grocery store employee says she barely escaped gunman's notice

An employee of the supermarket said she watched as the assailant opened fire — and narrowly escaped his notice while joining with other bystanders in a desperate scramble to get away.

Emily Giffen, 27, told The Associated Press that she was smoking outside the store Monday during a break when she heard multiple loud pops that she knew were not fireworks. She said she saw a man running across an intersection suddenly fall over and another man approach him in a crouch and fire several rounds at close range.

"I don't know how he didn't see us," she said of the suspect, who walked right by her before she ran into the King Soopers store and out the back. Newly fallen snow made people trip and slip as they tried to escape, she said, showing a large bruise on her arm that she said happened when someone stepped on her.

"I just really am having a hard time understanding why me and my friends deserve to die," she said, wondering why the gunman chose to target the Boulder store specifically. "It doesn't seem personal, so I don't quite get why we pulled that lottery ticket."

Read more here.

By Associated Press
 

Boyfriend of shooting victim speaks out

Clint Ponsford, who works at King Soopers, saw the gunman take down his first victim outside the grocery store before carrying out his rampage inside. Ponsford, who was seen on the live stream of the rampage standing at the store's entrance, wanted to run inside to look for his girlfriend, Teri Leiker, to see if she was OK. 

Ponsford met Leiker at the store 30 years ago. They are both autistic and bonded instantly while bagging groceries. It was there, while on the job Monday, that he says he lost his best friend. 

Leiker was one of 10 people killed in the attack. 

Of the things, he'll miss about her most: "Being with her. Doing this with her. Togetherness." 

Officials search for motive behind Boulder ma... 03:26
By Jonathan Vigliotti
 

GoFundMe for victims' families raises more than $250,000

A GoFundMe for the families of the shooting victims has raised more than $250,000, surpassing its goal in just a day. Approximately 5,000 people have donated, according to the GoFundMe page. 

The page's creator, who describes himself as a lifelong Boulder resident, said 100% of the funds would be distributed to the families of the victims through the Colorado Healing Fund. 

By Victoria Albert
 

Shooting suspect to appear in court Thursday morning

The accused gunman, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, will appear in court for the first time at 8:15 a.m. local time Thursday morning. Alissa will be advised of the charges against him and presented with his rights. 

The district attorney's office said the hearing will likely be the beginning of a "lengthy court process." 

By Victoria Albert
 

Family friend describes running into victim minutes before shooting

Family friends speak about shooting victims 04:36

Lynn Murray was at the King Soopers market working for grocery delivery service Instacart and ran into family friend Hope Cotten.

"She was smiling, we were laughing, just talking about cauliflower and whatever else, and, you know, just doing the rounds, like, 'This is a good order, quick 50 bucks,'" Cotten said.

It was minutes before the shooting started.

"I checked out, and by the time that I got back here, which is barely a five-minute commute, my little sister called me, like frantically, and, you know, it just clicked to me," Cotten said. "I was like, Lynn wasn't at the cash register yet, and I just, like, told my mom. I'm like, Lynn's in there still."

Cotten said she doesn't want those who were killed to be remembered only as victims of a shooting.

"These aren't just, like, names of people on a list," Cotten said. "These are real souls that are loved and, like, will continue to be loved now that they're not here anymore."

By David Begnaud
 

"There's a hole in our family that won't be filled"

Rikki Olds' uncle called his 25-year-old niece "the light of our family" who lived life on her own terms. "When Rikki showed up at the house, we never knew what color her hair was going to be, we never knew what new tattoos she may have, but that was Rikki," Robert Olds told reporters Wednesday.

Olds said his parents mostly raised his niece and she was like a daughter to his mother. "There's a hole in our family that won't be filled," Olds said.

Rikki Olds was a manager at the King Soopers supermarket in Boulder. "If you were having that bad day, Rikki was there to make it better," her co-worker Carlee Lough said. "… She would do anything to make you smile."

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By Alex Sundby
 

Lawmaker who lost son in Aurora theater shooting discusses grief

Colorado state representative on Boulder mass... 05:28

Colorado State Representative Tom Sullivan, whose 27-year-old son, Alex Sullivan, was one of 12 killed in the Aurora theater shooting, said the families of those killed in Boulder should lean on loved ones and use them for support.

"One of the things that I try to remember to let them know is that right now you need the people that you trust, the people that you love, that's who needs to be around you. That's who you need to reach out to," he said. "There are good intentioned people around, but you know, when the cameras leave and the lights are dimmed again, it's just going to be you and them again."

The memories of Alex still remain close to Sullivan despite the years that have passed. He said the families of the victims of Monday's shooting should try to preserve their loved ones' voices and use it to help them heal.

"I would just tell those people, you know, hang on to the voice. If you've got any, you know, text messages, you've got any phone messages they left. That's the first thing you lose. It's difficult to try to hear him anymore," he said.

Read more here

By Analisa Novak
 

Police chief: Connecticut is "model" for gun laws after Sandy Hook shooting

Police chief on tackling gun violence 12:20

The chief of police in a Connecticut city near Sandy Hook Elementary School said residents and legislators worked together to strengthen gun laws following the 2012 shooting at the school that killed 20 first graders and six educators. Now, "Connecticut is a model for the nation to look at," Fernando Spagnolo, chief of police of the Waterbury Police Department, said in an interview with CBSN on Wednesday.

In the wake of the shooting, Connecticut's legislature overhauled a number of state gun laws, Spagnolo said. Connecticut instituted universal background checks for those who purchase a gun, expanded the state's assault weapons ban and outlawed the sale of new high-capacity ammunition magazines. It also passed a law prohibiting people under domestic violence restraining orders from accessing guns, he said.

In Waterbury — which has started youth violence prevention programs and a gun buyback program that takes about 100 firearms off the street each year — gun violence levels dropped to some of their lowest levels in years in 2019, Spagnolo said.

Read more here

By Cassidy McDonald
 

Fallen officer would be embarrassed to be called a hero, father says

10 victims remembered in Boulder shooting 04:56

Boulder Officer Eric Talley's father wasn't surprised to learn his son was the first to arrive on the scene and put his life on the line.

"It did not surprise me at all," Shay Talley said. "That's who he was."

But Talley said his son, a father of seven children, would be embarrassed to be called a hero and that he'd just consider it part of his job.

Eric Talley joined the force when he turned 40, leaving a comfortable desk job to protect the citizens of Boulder.

Shay Talley said he wants his son to be remembered as a father, a police officer who wanted to serve and a person with a good heart.

"Because he truly did have a good heart," Talley said.

By Jonathan Vigliotti
 

Kamala Harris urges Senate to act on gun-control legislation

VP Kamala Harris on gun control legislation 06:41

Vice President Kamala Harris is calling on Congress — and the Senate in particular — to pass gun-control measures in the wake of two mass shootings that left a total of 18 people dead in the span of one week.

"The point here is Congress needs to act," Harris said on "CBS This Morning" Wednesday. "On the House side, they did. There are two bills which the president is prepared to sign, and so we need the Senate to act."

The two measures passed by the House of Representatives are aimed at expanding background checks for gun sales.

In the Atlanta-area and Boulder shootings, the gunmen used AR-15-styled assault weapons.

"There is no reason why we have assault weapons on the streets of a civil society. They are weapons of war," Harris said.

Read more here

By Elizabeth Elkind
 

Gun-control activist urges Biden to take executive action

Biden faces uphill battle on gun control 02:44

During his presidential campaign, then-candidate Biden promised early action on guns.

"My first day of office, I'm going to send a bill to the Congress repealing the liability protection for gun manufacturers," Mr. Biden said in February 2020.

But the issue has taken a back seat to other major priorities like infrastructure, immigration and COVID relief.

"This administration could be doing executive action," said Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action.

She said the White House has the power on its own to close a loophole that allows unlicensed gun sellers to skip a background check.

"There isn't a corner of the Biden administration or the Justice Department that couldn't be doing something right now to address the gun violence crisis in this country," Watts said.

By Nancy Cordes
 

Gun control debate takes center stage again

Politicians across the country have been discussing legislative changes in the wake of the Boulder shooting. For the first time in years, activists for gun reform, like Jane Dougherty of Littleton, Colorado, say they can see some kind of change coming, CBS Denver reports.

"So much of this is preventable," said Dougherty, a senior fellow with Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit organization. "It's so sad that we have to lose lives in order to motivate people and get our legislators back to talking about it."

Dougherty started fighting for stricter gun laws after her sister, Mary Sherlach, was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre. She's lived in Littleton since the early 1990s, so she's been part of the Colorado community to face repeated mass shootings.

She followed Tuesday's Senate Judiciary Hearing on gun violence and watched President Biden call for stricter gun laws and background checks. "I haven't had any hope at the federal level for years. Hearing anyone even say assault weapons ban, it's amazing," she said.

Bills about gun storage and reporting a lost or stolen gun are moving through the Colorado legislature. On Tuesday morning legislators took to the floor of their chambers to shed tears, call for unity and suggest more restrictions on firearms.

"What we need in these times is to reach out to each other because what happens to Boulder happens to Colorado," said Rep. Edie Hooton, a Boulder Democrat.

 

Shooting suspect found guilty of third degree assault in 2017 incident

The shooting suspect was previously convicted of third degree assault, a misdemeanor, stemming from an incident when he was in high school, according to documents obtained by CBS News.

According to a police report of the 2017 incident, a teacher and fellow students said they saw Alissa punch another student in the side of the head and hit him repeatedly after he had fallen to the ground, leaving the victim bloodied and vomiting. The suspect admitted to punching the other student, but said it was retaliation for bullying and racist comments, the report said. 

By Victoria Albert
 

Colorado shooting suspect allegedly bought assault weapon 6 days before shooting

The Colorado shooting suspect purchased an assault weapon 6 days before the shooting, according to court documents released Tuesday. The arrest affidavit for the suspect said he purchased a Ruger AR-556 pistol on March 16. 

It's not yet clear if that pistol was used in the shooting. According to the affidavit, the suspect had left a rifle — "possibly" an AR-15 — and a semiautomatic handgun in the store. 

The wife of one of the suspect's brothers told authorities that the suspect was seen playing with a gun that looked like a "machine gun" two days ago, according to the affidavit. She did not provide more details about the type of gun. 

By Victoria Albert
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