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A line of ambulances leaves a King Soopers grocery store where 10 people died  in a shooting in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) A line of ambulances leaves a King Soopers grocery store where 10 people died  in a shooting in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

A line of ambulances leaves a King Soopers grocery store where 10 people died in a shooting in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher March 30, 2021

No evidence suspected mass shooter bought gun illegally or entered US illegally

If Your Time is short

  • Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa apparently is Muslim, based on his online posts and comments from family and friends.

  • There’s no evidence that Alissa’s family, who emigrated to the U.S. from Syria when he was a toddler, entered the U.S. illegally from Mexico.

  • There’s no evidence Alissa purchased a gun illegally. Alissa had legally purchased from a gun store one of the two guns found at the scene, according to police.

A Facebook user made several claims about Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, the man charged with the Boulder, Colo. mass shooting. The claims said he is a Muslim who entered the U.S. illegally from Mexico and "purchased the firearm" from a man who sells stolen guns.

"Just found this about the Colorado shooting share it before it disappears" reads text above a photo of bloodied and nearly naked Alissa being taken into custody by two officers. "Shooting suspect Ahmad Al Aliwi is Muslim entered illegally from Mexico and purchased the firearm from a guy that sells stolen guns. You cant make this (expletive) up why we need a freaking wall."

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Alissa appears to be Muslim. However, there is no evidence that he entered the U.S. illegally from Mexico or that he bought a gun illegally.

Alissa’s religious background

On March 22, a gunman walked into a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, a college town northwest of Denver, and opened fire. Ten people were killed in the shooting, including one police officer. Police arrested Alissa, 21, in connection with the attack, during which he was shot through his right leg.

Alissa’s brother, Ali Aliwi Alissa, told CNN that their family emigrated from Syria to the U.S. in 2002, and court records and Alissa’s Facebook page said that he was born in 1999 in Syria, a majority-Muslim country.

Ali Aliwi Alissa, told CNN that in high school bullies made fun of Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa’s name and for being Muslim. The Washington Post reported that Alissa complained about hostility toward refugees and Muslims, writing in sharing a link about the impact of immigration on the U.S. economy: "Why refugees and immigrants are good for America."

A classmate of Alissa’s in high school in Arvada, about 20 miles southeast of Boulder, told the Denver Post that in high school, Alissa was often concerned about being targeted because of his Muslim faith. Alissa often spoke about his Muslim faith on social media and said he believed he was targeted over Islamophobia and racism, Heavy.com reported.

Featured Fact-check

No evidence of immigration from Mexico

We don’t yet know the full details of how Alissa’s family immigrated to the U.S. But there is no evidence they entered illegally through Mexico.

We rated Mostly False a claim by conservative activist Jack Posobiec that Alissa "was a Syrian refugee who arrived via Obama-era asylum programs." The best available information shows he arrived about seven years before Obama took office.

At least one of two guns purchased legally

In their arrest warrant for Alissa, police said Alissa had removed all of his clothing and was dressed only in shorts when he was taken into custody in the store. A rifle, described as a "possible AR-15," and a semiautomatic handgun were found with Alissa’s clothes and a tactical vest in the store, the warrant said. 

"Using law enforcement databases, investigators determined that Alissa had purchased a Ruger AR-556 pistol on March 16, 2021," the warrant said. 

The owner of the Arvada gun store that sold him the Ruger, a pistol that looks like a rifle, has said Alissa passed a background check in purchasing the gun.

The charges filed against Alissa do not include any gun charges.

Our ruling

A Facebook post claimed the suspected Boulder mass shooter is a Muslim "who entered illegally from Mexico and purchased the firearm from a guy that sells stolen guns."

Alissa apparently is Muslim, but there is no evidence that he entered the U.S. illegally from Mexico or that he had illegally purchased a gun he allegedly used in the shooting.

We rate the statement Mostly False.

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More by Tom Kertscher

No evidence suspected mass shooter bought gun illegally or entered US illegally

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