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Boulder shooting suspect appears in court as district attorney says more charges will be filed

Colorado supermarket shooting suspect denied bail
Boulder shooting suspect denied bail in first court appearance 02:03

Three days after he was led away in handcuffs from a Colorado supermarket where 10 people were fatally shot, the accused gunman appeared in a Boulder court Thursday for the first time since the shooting. The district attorney said more charges would be announced in the next two weeks, and the suspect's defense lawyer asked for a health assessment "to address his mental illness."

Kathryn Herold, the lawyer for suspect Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, provided no details about what he might suffer from.

Boulder shooting suspect appears in court 05:42

During the brief hearing, the suspect didn't speak other than to say "yes" to a question from the judge and was advised of the 10 charges of first-degree murder he faces. The suspect has also been charged with attempted murder in the first degree for one of the police officers who responded to the shooting. The suspect did not enter a plea, which will come later in the judicial process.

The 21-year-old appeared alert and attentive, wore a mask and was dressed in purple, short-sleeved coveralls.

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The suspect remains held without bail. Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty said during the hearing that authorities planned to file more charges, but he did not elaborate. 

At Herold's request, the suspect's next hearing will not be scheduled for another two to three months to allow the defense team to evaluate his mental health and evidence that is being collected by investigators.

The court appearance marked the first time that the suspect has appeared in public since he was arrested inside the King Soopers supermarket in Boulder on Monday and treated at a hospital for a gunshot wound in one of his legs.

He was last seen handcuffed and being led out of the supermarket by police. He had removed all clothing except his shorts before being taken into custody. A rifle, a green tactical vest and a handgun were recovered inside the grocery store, according to an arrest affidavit.

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After the hearing, Dougherty told reporters outside the courthouse that he was "confident that in the state of Colorado, particularly here in Boulder County, that we can find 12 people who will be fair and who will be open-minded and reach the right verdict when the time comes."

He added: "As in other mass shootings and tragedies in the state of Colorado, the response has been incredible, so federal, state and local agencies are partnering together, and the teamwork is exactly what it should be, and it's why I'm confident that we'll be able to secure the right result in this case."

A law enforcement official briefed on the shooting had previously said the suspect's family told investigators they believed he was suffering some type of mental illness, including delusions.

Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa appears in court in Boulder, Colorado, March 25, 2021.
Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa appears in court in Boulder, Colorado, March 25, 2021. KCNC-TV

Relatives have described times when the suspect told them people were following or chasing him, which they said may have contributed to the violence, the official said. The official was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

While most Colorado court proceedings have been conducted with suspects appearing by video during the pandemic, District Judge Thomas Francis Mulvahill ordered the suspect to appear before him in court though the public and the media were not allowed inside.

Dozens of media trucks and reporters stood outside the courthouse on a cold, clear Colorado morning. There was no sign of protesters or victims' families.

In addition to Boulder police Officer Eric Talley, 51, the victims are Denny Stong, 20; Neven Stanisic, 23; Rikki Olds, 25; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Teri Leiker, 51; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; and Jodi Waters, 65. Leiker, Olds and Stong worked at the supermarket.

According to the arrest affidavit, the suspect bought a Ruger AR-556 pistol — which resembles an AR-15 rifle with a slightly shorter stock — on March 16, six days before the attack, but it's not yet clear if that weapon was used during the shooting. Authorities have not disclosed where the gun was purchased.

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