Debate erupts over racial, religious identity of Colorado shooting suspect
Following the release of the identity of the suspect possibly behind Monday’s Boulder, Colorado mass shooting that resulted in 10 deaths, many are sparring over the racial and religious identity of the suspect, who was taken into custody shortly following the assault on a supermarket.
In footage initially released, the suspect could be seen shirtless and having a bloodied leg as he was being taken away by two law enforcement officers, with the footage also making the alleged gunman appear pale-skinned. This spurred many on the political left to quickly paint the tragic event as another instance of white and male supremacy and bring up the fact that most mass shootings are carried out by while males—despite no motive behind the gruesome act being announced yet. This move from many on the left came almost one week after a white man shot up three different massage parlors in the Atlanta area, with six out of the eight peopled killed being Asian women, which has brought the issue of growing anti-Asian in the U.S. into the national spotlight.
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Tuesday morning, however, police announced that the suspect was 21-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, who on his now-deleted Facebook page said he was “born in Syria in 1999 came to the USA in 2002,” The Daily Beast reported. According to police, Alissa is from Arvada, Colorado and had a history of violence.
Meena Harris, a New York Times best-selling author and the niece of Vice President Kamala Harris, took to Twitter on Tuesday to say that she deleted a tweet in which she wrote Monday evening, according to a screenshot: “The Atlanta shooting was not even a week ago. Violent white men are the greatest terrorist threat to this country.”
“I deleted a previous tweet about the suspect in the Boulder shooting,” she tweeted Tuesday. “I made an assumption based on his being taken into custody alive and the fact that the majority of mass shootings in the U.S. are carried out by white men.”
Conservative journalist Andy Ngô responded to Harris, pointing out that Alisa “an immigrant from Syria who is devoutly Muslim.”
Here are some other instances of those on the political left who were quick to frame the shooting as white and male supremacy.
Furthermore, alleged screenshots of Alissa’s social media posts that have since been deleted indicate that the suspect was a religious Muslim who posted often about Islamophobia.
According to one of the alleged screenshots shared by Ngô, Alissa posted on March 16, 2019 about the mass shootings at a mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand carried out the previous day by a reported white supremacist.
“The Muslims at the #christchurch mosque were not the victims of a single shooter,” he allegedly wrote. “They were the victims of the entire Islamophobia industry that vilified them.”
The suspect was shot in the leg and is in stable condition at a hospital, authorities said. Moreover, Alissa is expected to be moved to a local jail later on Tuesday, at which point an arrest affidavit and warrant will be made public, authorities said, per The New York Post.
The police in Arvada said they had experienced two encounters in 2018 with the suspect — one on a report of third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, and one of criminal mischief, according to The New York Times. It is not certain, though, if Alissa was convicted of a crime, The Times noted.
Authorities have already interviewed Alissa, but they did not disclose Tuesday what, if anything, he said about his motive, per The Post.
“Why did this happen?” asked Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty at the briefing. “We don’t have the answer to that yet, and the investigation is in its very early stages.”
However, the alleged gunman’s older brother told The Daily Beast that he thinks his sibling is mentally ill.
“When he was having lunch with my sister in a restaurant, he said, ‘People are in the parking lot, they are looking for me,’” Ali Aliwi Alissa told the outlet. “She went out, and there was no one. We didn’t know what was going on in his head.”
Characterizing his brother as “very anti-social,” he said that when the alleged shooter attended high school, he would describe “being chased, someone is behind him, someone is looking for him.”
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.