Boulder shooting: Who are Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa's 10 victims? Real story behind devastating deaths in Colorado
A gunman killed 10 people at a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colo., on Monday afternoon. Some of the victims were shopping at the store, while some were the workers, they all ranged from age 20 to 65.
The suspect, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa of Arvada, Colorado, stormed the King Soopers outlet in Boulder armed with an assault-style rifle and a handgun and wearing a tactical vest, all of which were recovered after the shooting which happened on March 22, 2021, according to an arrest affidavit filed by police. The affidavit also said law enforcement databases show Alissa purchased an AR-15 type of assault rifle on March 16, 2021, just 6 days before committing the horrendous crime.
Here's what we know about the lives that they lived. We will update this story as we learn more:
Boulder police Officer Eric Talley, 51, a brave officer as well as a husband, a brother and father to seven children, lost his life during the mass shooting. Talley "responded to the scene, was the first on the scene, and he was fatally shot," said Boulder police Chief Maris Herold, who described his "heroic action." She added, "I'm grateful for the police officers that responded, and I am so sorry about the loss of Officer Talley." Talley served a number of roles in his work in the police department and in support of the local community, Herold said. Talley had a master's degree in computer science, but he took a career change at around 40. "I can tell you that he's a very kind man, and he didn't have to go into policing, he had a profession before this, but he felt a higher calling," Herold said. She added, "He loved this community, and he's everything that policing deserves and needs."
In 2013, Talley and two other officers drew a crowd and eventually, a round of applause when they saved lives of ducklings that had been swept out of a creek and into a caged seepage ditch. It was Talley who swam into the water to save the ducklings. "He was drenched after this," Sgt. Jack Walker said of Talley at the time. "They would go into these little pipes, and he would have to try and fish them out."
"Officer Eric Talley is my big brother. He died today in the Boulder shooting," a woman who identified herself as Talley's sister said on Twitter, posting a photo that appeared to show the two of them together when they were children. "My heart is broken. I cannot explain how beautiful he was and what a devastating loss this is to so many," she added. "Fly high my sweet brother. You always wanted to be a pilot (damn color blindness). Soar."
Erika Mahoney, 61, news director of NPR KAZU on California's central coast, remembered her father as representing "all things Love." "I am heartbroken to announce that my Dad, my hero, Kevin Mahoney, was killed in the King Soopers shooting in my hometown of Boulder, CO," she wrote on Twitter. "I'm so thankful he could walk me down the aisle last summer."
I am heartbroken to announce that my Dad, my hero, Kevin Mahoney, was killed in the King Soopers shooting in my hometown of Boulder, CO. My dad represents all things Love. I'm so thankful he could walk me down the aisle last summer. pic.twitter.com/SLS2bdm5Hc— Erika Mahoney (@MahoneyEb) March 23, 2021
She thanked the Boulder police for the department's kindness through the tragedy.
Teri Leiker, 51, was a dedicated King Soopers employee who worked at the store for more than 30 years. Leiker's friend Lexi Knutson wrote in an Instagram tribute, calling her "the most selfless, innocent, amazing person I have had the honor of meeting." Knutson stated that the two met in 2017 through the University of Colorado Boulder chapter of Best Buddies, a curriculum that intends to create one-on-one friendships among students and members of the community with intellectual and developmental disabilities. "Her shy friendship towards me turned into a sort of sisterhood," Knutson wrote, adding that "Teri and I spoke almost every week (especially at 6am, Teri's preferred call time of choice.) She always ended the calls with 'love your buddy Teri.' "
Leiker was a "CU Boulder super fan" who loved going to work, Knutson said. In an interview with Reuters that Leiker, Knutson revealed that Leiker recently started dating a colleague-turned-friend.
He was working at the store on Monday, she said, but survived the shooting. "Teri leaves behind her family, her boyfriend Clint, and many close friends that truly cared about her," she wrote.
Rikki Olds, 25, was another worker of King Soopers who lost her life during the mass shooting. Olds was working as a front-end manager at the King Soopers grocery store. Her Facebook page identifies her as a graduate of Centaurus High School in Lafayette, and a student at Front Range Community College, which has multiple campuses in Colorado.
Olds, who identified herself in a Facebook post as Rikki's aunt, wrote that "the Lord got a beautiful young angel yesterday at the hands of a deranged monster." Her uncle, Bob Olds, told CNN she was a "strong, independent young woman" who was raised by her grandparents. After frantic hours spent calling police and local hospitals in search of information, he said the family was notified of her death around 3 a.m. on March 23, 2021.
United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 7, which represents grocery store employees including those at King Soopers, confirmed that Olds was a worker at the store and a former union member. It also confirmed that "a few" of its members were working while the shooting, and, citing the ongoing investigation, said it would share more details as they become available.
Lynn Murray, 61, was a retired photo editor, was at the grocery store working as an Instacart customer when she was killed. Before moving to Colorado, she lived in New York City and worked for magazines, including Glamour, Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan. She grew up in Mentor, Ohio, and attended Ohio University.
"My mom was the least deserving person to die this way," her daughter, Olivia Mackenzie, told the Denver paper. Mackenzie said her mother was an artist and a doodler. "She was the most beautiful person I ever met," she said. "She is the warmest, kindest, most positive person." "She was an amazing woman, probably the kindest person I've ever known," her husband, John Mackenzie, told The New York Times. "Our lives are ruined, our tomorrows are forever filled with a sorrow that is unimaginable. She was one of the greatest people you'd ever want to know: hard working, loving and compassionate, caring, went out of her way to make sure everyone else had a smile on their face."
Tralona "Lonna" Bartkowiak, 49, was a founder with her sister of Umba, a clothing and art store in downtown Boulder. "Fueled by their passion for travel, music, and art, the two of them began selling clothing at music venues, festivals, and local fairs, and Umba came to be," the shop's Facebook page says. Her brother, Michael Bartkowiak, told The New York Times that she was the eldest of four siblings in a close-knit family. He described her as "an amazing person, just a beam of light."
He said that she had recently become engaged and that their family had gathered last month in southern Oregon. She lived in a house outside Boulder that she shared with her Chihuahua, Opal, her brother said.
Suzanne Fountain, 59, was an actress who had worked with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' theater company. "I wouldn't be surprised if she was confronting the mother (bleeper) who did this, to be honest with you," Fountain's close friend Martha Harmon Pardee told The Denver Gazette, guessing that Fountain had died trying to save others. "She was fearless and funny and giving and just a salt-of-the-Earth person."
We are heartbroken by the senseless violence in Boulder yesterday. We were especially saddened to learn of the death of Suzanne Fountain, an actress who appeared with our own DCPA Theatre Company. Our hearts go out to everyone affected by this tragedy. pic.twitter.com/hFnizDtHmn— Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA) (@DenverCenter) March 23, 2021
The Colorado Sun reported that Fountain was a financial counselor at Boulder Community Health, where she helped "clients navigate Medicare." She was also a house manager at eTown Hall, a music venue and community center that produces a radio show. "Suzanne was a bright light to all she met, and we were proud to have her represent eTown in our community as she welcomed people into our space hundreds and hundreds of times," eTown posted to its Facebook page. "This is an unfathomable loss for all of us and a painful reminder that our society can and must do a better job to prevent these acts of violence from becoming normalized in our culture. This is heartbreaking."
Denny Stong was a resident of Boulder and an employee of King Soopers since 2018. "I can't stay home. I am a Grocery Store Worker," his profile picture says. A fundraiser for Stong's family said he was "a kind soul with a funny sense of humor and unique interests," and said that he had risked his life to protect others during the attack. "He did nothing wrong and deserved this in no way at all. He made no choice that led to this. He simply showed up to work, and was in the wrong place at the wrong time," said the post by James Nolan, who described himself as lifelong friend.
A post on Stong's page from earlier this month asks for donations to a gun rights foundation. According to his Facebook page, he used to love "planes, bikes, motorcycles."
Jody Waters was a stylist and a designer, she channeled into a career in fashion. Her friend and business colleague Stephanie Boyle said Waters would help her set up booths at local events for her leather accessories business, and gave her advice on stores with which to collaborate. The two were friends for eight years, and Boyle described Waters as a gentle spirit. Waters had two daughters and a young grandchild, Boyle said. Boyle said she learned the news about Waters' death on the evening of the shooting through a friend.
"When you were in her presence, you felt the love," Boyle said. "Also, she was looking to be her best self." "I'm just heartbroken. It just seems so senseless," Boyle said, her voice breaking. "This person just went and killed her. And he didn't know her."
Neven Stanisic, 23, was the second youngest person who got killed. Stanisic was a man of faith and exemplary family values, friends and leaders at his family’s church told The Denver Post. Stanisic had fled Bosnia with his family 20 years ago for a better life in the United States, Reverand Radovan Petrovic told The Denver Post.
The 23-year-old, a graduate of Alameda West High School, was likely on his way to fix a coffee machine at a Starbucks at the King Soopers location when the shooting happened.