News Headlines 3/24/21

BOULDER MASS SHOOTING SUSPECT BOOKED ON 10 COUNTS OF MURDER: The suspect in the mass shooting at a Boulder, Colorado, supermarket on Monday that left 10 people dead was booked into jail Tuesday (March 23rd) on 10 counts of murder after being released from the hospital, where he’d treated for a leg wound. Officials identified him as 21-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa of the Denver suburb of Arvada, who’d bought an assault weapon six days before the attack at the King Soopers market. Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty said a motive hadn’t been established. Media reports said that members of Alissa’s family, who came to the U.S. from Syria when he was young, told investigators they believe he was suffering from mental illness, including having delusions, saying there were times he’d talked about people following or chasing him. His 34-year-old brother, Ali Aliwi Alissa, told The Daily Beast his younger brother was antisocial and paranoid.

A police affidavit said that when Alissa was a high school senior in 2018, he was found guilty of assaulting another student after he suddenly got up in class, went over the student and began punching him in the head, knocking him down and climbing on top of him as he continued to punch the student. Alissa had claimed the victim had made fun of him weeks earlier. AP cited a former wrestling teammate of Alissa’s, Angel Hernandez, as saying he had a, quote, “short fuse,” stating, “Once he gets mad, it’s like something takes over and it’s not him. There is no stopping him at that point.” He also said Alissa would sometimes turn around suddenly or look over his shoulder and say, “Did you see that?” but there was nothing there. CNN reported that Alissa wrote on his Facebook page in 2019 that he believed people were hacking into his phone, including his former high school.

The names of the other nine victims of the attack were released yesterday, after Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley, a 51-year-old father of seven who was the first officer to respond to the shooting, was the only one identified on Monday. They included three of the supermarket’s employees: Denny Stong, 20; Teri Leiker, 51; and Rikki Olds, 25. The others were: Neven Stanisic, 23; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; and Jodi Waters, 65. A makeshift memorial has been set up near the supermarket, and about 100 people were there last night.

BIDEN, DEMOCRATS CALL FOR ACTION ON GUN MEASURES: In the wake of the Boulder mass shooting, President Biden yesterday (March 23rd) urged Congress to move quickly to close loopholes in the background check system to buy guns, and to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. He said, “It should not be a partisan issue. This is an American issue. It will save lives, American lives.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he will bring legislation to the floor in the Senate that was passed by the House that would require background checks for most gun sales and transfers. However, prospects for passage aren’t good in the face of Republican opposition.

ISRAEL AGAIN HAS NO CLEAR ELECTION WINNER: Israel’s parliamentary elections yesterday (March 23rd) resulted in no clear winner for the fourth time in the past two years, with exit polls indicating a virtual deadlock. They showed that both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies, as well as a group of anti-Netanyahu parties, fell short of the majority needed to form a new government. The results raises the possibility that Israel will have to hold an unprecedented fifth consecutive election. However, exit results haven’t always been exactly right in the past, so when all the votes are counted, there could be a more decisive outcome.

SECOND EXTENSION OF OBAMACARE ENROLLMENT ANNOUNCED: President Biden announced yesterday (March 23rd) that he would extend the special enrollment period for Obamacare by three months until August 15th as part of the continuing effort to deal with the impact of the pandemic. Biden ordered the initial special enrollment for getting health insurance under the Affordable Care Act for February 15th to May 15th. Extending it will allow enrollees to take advantage of the greater subsidies to pay for the plans that were passed as part of the $1.9 trillion Covid relief package Biden signed into law earlier this month. Enrollment is usually only open for about six weeks as the end of the year.

JURY SEATED IN TRIAL OF OFFICER CHARGED IN GEORGE FLOYD’S DEATH: The 15th and final juror was chosen yesterday (March 23rd) in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd last May. Twelve jurors were chosen along with two alternates and one extra juror in case it’s needed. Opening statements are set for next Monday, March 29th, and if all of the 14 jurors are still available to serve, the 15th will be dismissed.