Authorities in Boulder, Colorado have released the affidavit filed as part of the arrest of the suspect in the shootings of ten people at a King Sooper grocery store on Monday afternoon, providing new details into the murders and the suspect in the case.
According to the document released to the press on Tuesday, the 21-year old suspect was taken into custody about an hour after the first 911 calls were recorded. Those calls began even before the suspect had entered the grocery store, with one caller reporting to dispatchers that he had watched as a man shot out the window of a vehicle and briefly chased a man in the store parking lot. Another witness told officers on scene that he saw the suspect shoot an elderly man in the parking lot, before walking up to the prone body and firing several more shots at point-blank range before he headed inside the store.
Just before 3:30 local time, SWAT members made “voice contact” with the suspect inside the store, and moments later the suspect walked backwards towards the officers, dressed only in a pair of shorts and with a gunshot wound (described by paramedics on scene as a “through-and-through” injury) to his leg.
Police found the suspect’s clothing, along with a rifle (described as a “possible AR-15”, a handgun, and a “tactical vest” on the floor of the grocery store, but the suspect himself refused to answer any questions from law enforcement at the scene, though he did ask if he could call his mother.
Monday evening, officers with the Arvada, Colorado police department executed a search warrant on the suspect’s home and spoke to the wife of the suspect’s oldest brother, who told officers that she had recently seen her brother-in-law “playing with a gun” that she said resembled a machine gun two days earlier. According to the affidavit, she says that two family members “were upset with [the suspect] for playing with the gun in the house” and took it from him. She told officers that she believed the gun might still have been in the suspect’s bedroom on the upper floor of the home, but the affidavit doesn’t reveal if any firearms were seized from the home.
The document does mention, however, that using law enforcement databases, police were able to determine that the suspect had purchased a Ruger AR-556 pistol on March 16th of this year, six days before the shooting took place. Given the fact that the sale of the firearm was discovered using a law enforcement database, that tells us that the sale was conducted through a federally licensed firearms dealer and the suspect underwent and passed a background check before acquiring the gun.
As for the motivation behind the attack, the affidavit doesn’t reveal any information. Boulder’s police chief has said that the suspect has undergone at least one interview with officers, but hasn’t said if the suspect mentioned anything about why he decided to target shoppers at a busy grocery store miles away from his home, nor have they revealed any possible connection between the suspect and the store where the attack took place.
One other question that’s likely to come up in the course of the investigation is why, if family members believed that the suspect was “deeply disturbed“, as one brother told the Daily Beast, they didn’t contact authorities when they found him “playing with a gun” a couple of days ago. Colorado not only has a civil commitment law on the books, but in 2019 the state approved a “red flag” law allowing family members and law enforcement to petition the courts for the removal of firearms from those deemed by a judge to be a danger to themselves or others. So far there’s been no indication that the family sought an extreme risk protection order after discovering the suspect’s gun, and police in Arvada say the only contacts they had with the suspects were for cases of assault and criminal mischief. It appears the only case that was adjudicated by the court system was back in 2017, when the suspect was charged with 3rd degree assault for a high school classmate.
Obviously there are still a lot of unanswered questions at the moment, but the lack of information isn’t stopping gun control activists from seizing on the shooting as justification for sweeping new gun control laws. President Joe Biden himself used the shooting to demand the Senate pass a pair of gun control bills imposing new restrictions on background checks during his remarks on Tuesday (in addition to calling for enactment of his proposed ban on modern sporting rifles and ammunition magazines), though it’s now clear that the suspect didn’t have any issues passing a background check before he purchased his firearm.
Colorado already has a universal background check law and a ban on “high capacity” magazines as well as the “red flag” law implemented in the state last year, but the media, gun control advocates, and anti-gun politicians are ignoring all of the existing laws on the books while ensuring us that the next gun control proposal will be the one to make a difference. The affidavit released on Tuesday may not tell us everything we want to know about the suspect, but it’s clear based on what’s been made available that he was legally eligible to own a firearm, and that another gun control law wouldn’t have prevented his murderous and evil acts.
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