A 21-year-old has been charged for Monday’s massacre in a Boulder supermarket, Colorado, in which 10 people, including a police officer, were killed, reigniting the debate Tuesday over the proliferation of guns in the United States.
The new massacre came less than a week after a man shot dead eight people at Asian massage parlors in Atlanta, Georgia. This rehearsal sparked urgent calls on the Democratic administration and elected officials to act.
Identified as Ahmad Alissa, the suspect was injured in the leg and hospitalized. He is in “stable condition” and is due to be transferred to prison soon, said Maris Herold, the Boulder police chief.
“He was charged with ten murders,” she said.
His motive is not yet known, according to the authorities.
All the victims have been identified and were between 20 and 65 years old, according to the same source. The deceased police officer was the father of seven children, according to Ms Herold.
“My heart is bleeding today,” Colorado Governor Jared Polis said Tuesday. “And I think all our hearts are bleeding (…) because of this senseless tragedy.”
“We will make sure that the suspect is accountable for what he did yesterday”, for his part declared the prosecutor Michael Dougherty, during the same press conference.
President Joe Biden, regularly updated on developments, is due to speak out on the killing and ordered the flags to be half-masted in the White House, according to his office.
Bang, bang, bang
The shooter is accused of shooting 10 people Monday afternoon in or around the King Soopers store in Boulder.
Live footage showed a man, wearing only athletic shorts, being taken by police out of the store. His hands cuffed behind his back, he appeared to be injured in the leg, with traces of blood.
According to US media, the man was equipped with an AR-15 type assault rifle, a weapon often used in killings.
Witnesses said they first heard several gunshots outside the King Soopers store.
Nevin Sloan, who narrowly escaped with his wife Quinlan, described the growing panic as the shots drew closer, with customers wondering whether to stay hidden inside or flee.
“Suddenly we heard more ‘bang, bang, bang, bang’. I ran over to her (his wife) and said ‘Hey, we have to get out of here,’ ”he told CBS. They then helped other clients escape through an emergency exit, he said.
Police officers went there “just minutes” after being alerted to the presence of a gunman in the supermarket parking lot and “very quickly” entered the supermarket where he was holed up, authorities said. .
We must act
Shootings of this type, especially in schools, shopping malls or places of worship, are a recurring evil in the United States and successive governments have been powerless to stem the increase in these killings.
“We must act now to prevent this scourge from continuing to ravage our population,” said Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.
The leader of the Democratic majority in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, for his part denounced “a continuous epidemic of violence by firearms which steals innocent lives with alarming regularity”.
“We will not accept gun violence in our supermarkets, massage parlors and homes as a trivial matter. It is high time for our leaders to act and protect us from gun violence, ”said Shannon Watts, founder of the organization“ Moms Demand Action ”.
But the hypothesis of a tightening of the laws on weapons remains improbable given the opposition of the Republicans.
Colorado has already seen two of the worst killings in American history.
In 1999, two teenagers killed 12 classmates and a teacher at their Columbine high school. And in 2012, a heavily armed man shot dead 12 people in a cinema in Aurora.
The city of Boulder had imposed a ban on “assault rifle-type weapons” and high-capacity magazines after a high school shooting in Parkland, Florida (17 dead) in 2018. But according to the Denver Post newspaper, a judge suspended the ban last week, a move hailed by the National Rifle Association (NRA), the premier gun lobby.