Colorado man accused of killing 10 at supermarket in 2021 is competent for trial, prosecutors say


DENVER — A Colorado man charged with killing 10 people at a Boulder supermarket in 2021 is competent to proceed toward a trial, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The district attorney’s office announced Wednesday that experts at the state mental hospital say Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa no longer has a mental disability that prevents him from helping in his defense and can now participate in the court case against him.

A judge still must accept their conclusion in order for criminal proceedings to resume, it said in a statement.

Earlier this year, defense lawyers confirmed Alissa has schizophrenia, a mental disorder which causes people to have trouble understanding reality.

Being deemed mentally competent does not mean Alissa has been cured, just that experts think he is able to understand the proceedings and able to consult with his lawyers about his case, helping them defend him.

The March 22, 2021, attack at a King Soopers grocery shocked a state that has seen its share of mass shootings, including the 1999 Columbine High School massacre and the 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting. The mass shooting killed a police officer, shoppers and several store employees at the supermarket in Boulder, a college town about 30 miles (50 kilometers) northwest of Denver.

Boulder police Officer Eric Talley, a 51-year-old father of seven, was shot and killed while rushing into the store with an initial team of police officers. In addition, Rikki Olds, Denny Stong, Neven Stanisic, Tralona Bartkowiak, Teri Leiker, Suzanne Fountain, Kevin Mahoney, Lynn Murray and Jody Waters were killed inside and outside the supermarket.

The remodeled King Soopers reopened last year with about half of those who worked there at the time of the shooting choosing to return.

The court case has been on hold since December 2021 when a judge first ruled that Alissa was mentally incompetent and sent him to the state hospital for treatment.

Staff at the hospital continued to find he was incompetent but details about exactly why were not made public. District Attorney Michael Dougherty alleged that Alissa was refusing to participate in some of his treatment, including talking about the shooting. After he pressed for a prosecution expert to evaluate Alissa, defense attorneys revealed Alissa’s diagnosis in court filings in February and provided the most information about his mental state so far.

One expert found he was “approaching catatonia” before being moved to the state hospital, the defense said. His lawyers also said that he had symptoms that limit his ability to interact with others which were resistant to being treated with medication.

“He speaks in repetitive non-responsive answers and cannot tolerate contact with others for more than a very brief period of time,” they said at the time.

Alissa is being represented by public defenders who do not comment to the media on their cases.

Dougherty’s office said it has asked a judge to rule that Alissa is competent and schedule an evidentiary hearing as soon as possible to determine if the case will proceed to a trial.

“Our office will continue fighting for justice in this case,” Dougherty said.

Alissa is charged with murder and multiple attempted murder counts for also endangering the lives of 26 other people. He has not been asked yet to enter a plea and his lawyers have not commented about the allegations.

Investigators have not revealed a possible motive. They said Alissa passed a background check to legally buy a Ruger AR-556 pistol six days before the shooting.

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Corrects that the remodeled store opened last year, not in February.



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