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Friday December 3rd, 2021 3:31AM

Family of Colorado victim: A void 'that won't be filled'

By The Associated Press
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BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — A relative and a friend of a grocery worker who died in the shooting that killed 10 people at a Colorado supermarket said Wednesday they're still trying to take in that she's gone — forever — as authorities disclosed no new details about an anticipated months-long investigation.

The grocery worker, Rikki Olds, 25, was slain inside the King Soopers market Monday. Her uncle, Robert Olds, and a co-worker, Carlee Lough, told reporters Rikki was an ebullient soul who wanted to be a nurse. Her backup plan was to work her way up to store manager.

They said she made sure her fellow frontline workers were happy in their jobs, dancing if needed to lift their spirits.

“If you needed a pick me-up you knew where to go,” Lough said.

“Rikki lived life on her own terms,” said her uncle, Robert Olds, recalling surprises she came up with, like constantly changing hair color or the addition of a new tattoo. “It's sad in that she didn’t get to experience motherhood. She didn’t get to experience marriage. ... There's a hole in our family that won't be filled.”

Portraits of Rikki and others who were killed emerged as multiple law enforcement agencies continued what they say will be a months-long investigation into why Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 21, allegedly shot and killed 10 people at the King Soopers market in Boulder. They revealed no new details Wednesday morning, but said a statement would be issued later in the day.

Alissa, from the Denver suburb of Arvada, was booked into jail Tuesday on murder charges and was scheduled to make his first court appearance Thursday.

He will be advised at the hearing of the charges he faces and his rights as a defendant. He would not be asked to enter a plea until later in the judicial process.

No lawyer was listed as representing Alissa in court records. Public defenders usually represent people who do not have a lawyer at their first court appearance but the defenders' office policy prohibits them from speaking to the media.

Hundreds of Boulder residents have paid their respects to the victims at a growing makeshift memorial near the supermarket, adorning it with wreaths, candles, banners reading “#Boulderstrong” and 10 crosses with blue hearts and the victims’ names.

Those killed also included Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley, 51, who was the first officer to arrive on the scene of the shooting.

Homer Talley, 74, described his son as a devoted father who “knew the Lord.” He had seven children, ages 7 to 20.

The other dead were identified as Denny Stong, 20; Neven Stanisic, 23; Rikki Olds, 25; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Teri Leiker, 51; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; and Jodi Waters, 65.

Leiker, Olds and Stong worked at the supermarket, former co-worker Jordan Sailas said.

Kim Cordova, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, which represents more than 30 store employees, said workers did their best to get customers to safety.

“They grabbed everybody they could and they brought them to the backroom or to other areas of the store to hide or got them out through the back dock,” Cordova said. “And these poor grocery workers have just been through hell in general working through COVID this entire last year of the pandemic.”

Monday’s attack was the seventh mass killing this year in the U.S., following the March 16 shooting that left eight people dead at three Atlanta-area massage businesses, according to a database compiled by the AP, USA Today and Northeastern University.

It follows a lull in mass killings during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, which had the smallest number of such attacks in eight years, according to the database, which tracks mass killings defined as four or more dead, not including the shooter.

The Boulder and Atlanta-area shootings prompted President Joe Biden to call on Congress to tighten the nation’s gun laws. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer vowed to bring forward two House-passed bills to require expanded background checks for gun buyers. Biden supports the measures, but they face a tougher route to passage in a closely divided Senate with a slim Democratic majority.

According to an arrest affidavit, Alissa bought a Ruger AR-556 pistol — which is technically a pistol though it resembles an AR-15 rifle with a slightly shorter stock — on March 16, six days before the attack. Investigators have not established a motive, said Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty.

Authorities have not disclosed where the gun was purchased. An AR-15-style gun was recovered inside the supermarket and believed to have been used in the shooting, said a law enforcement official briefed on the shooting who was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

A green tactical vest and a hand gun were also recovered inside the grocery store after the suspect removed most of his clothing shortly before he was taken into custody.

The law enforcement official who was briefed on the shooting said the suspect’s family told investigators that Alissa had delusions and that they believed he was suffering some type of mental illness. The relatives described times when Alissa told them people were following or chasing him, which they said may have contributed to the violence, the official said.

___

Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo in Washington, Jim Anderson in Denver and AP staff members from around the U.S. contributed to this report. Nieberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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