The suspected shooter arrested after a horrifying gun massacre was ‘violent, short-tempered and paranoid’ according to those who know him.
Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa was described as having a history of mental illness and paranoia, who claimed he was being ‘hacked’ by ‘racist Islamophobes’ online.
His own brother reportedly said he thought the 21-year-old had become convinced people were after him.
And in the days before the tragic shooting he was seen by his family fiddling with a semi-automatic pistol he had just bought.
Alissa was arrested after the mass shooting at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, at 2.30pm on Monday – the second massacre in the US in a week.
Police confirmed he was in a stable condition in hospital after being shot, and is expected to be moved to jail where he faces 10 counts of murder.
The New York Times earlier reported that he had been known to the FBI because of links to another person under investigation for an unrelated matter.
It later emerged that before the killings Alissa had lived in Arvada, Colorado, about 30 miles from the grocery store.
He was a naturalized US citizen from Syria, who had left high school in 2018 and had been on the wrestling team.
Alissa was described by those that know him as disturbed and ‘scary to be around’.
His older brother Ali Aliwi Alissa, 34, told the The Daily Beast that he believed Alissa was mentally ill.
He said he thought Alissa was convinced people were ‘after him’ while in high school and that he was being ‘chased’ or followed.
He said: “When he was having lunch with my sister in a restaurant, he said: “People are in the parking lot, they are looking for me.
“She went out, and there was no one. We didn’t know what was going on in his head.”
He went on to say that his brother was ‘bullied a lot in high school’ and said: “He was like an outgoing kid, but after he went to high school and got bullied a lot, he started becoming anti-social.”
A wrestling teammate, Dayton Marvel, told Denver Post : “He was kind of scary to be around.
“His senior year, during the wrestle-offs to see who makes varsity, he actually lost his match and quit the team and yelled out in the wrestling room that he was, like, going to kill everybody.
“Nobody believed him. We were just all kind of freaked out by it, but nobody did anything about it.”
Another teammate, Angel Hernandez, said Alissa had once ‘lost it’ and got into a fight in a car park after a match.
Angel also said that Alissa often seemed to be ‘paranoid about perceived slights against him’ but added that he could also be friendly and ‘joyful.’
Others claimed he was often concerned about being targeted because of his Muslim faith.
On Monday, police allege, the 21-year-old stormed the King Soopers supermarket in Boulder and killed 10 people with a spray of bullets.
According to court documents his family saw him fiddling with a gun just days before the shooting.
He was said to have armed himself with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle and a handgun as well as put on a tactical vest as he sat in his Arvada home fiddling with the weapon.
Alissa’s sister-in-law told police it looked like a “machine gun” and after a bullet became stuck the family took it away from him, upset he was playing with a gun in the house.
He had bought a Ruger AR-556 semi-automatic pistol – a weapon that resembles a semi-automatic rifle and has a 30-round capacity – on March 16, six days before the shooting.
Alissa, who was treated for a leg wound suffered in an exchange of gunfire with responding police, is in jail awaiting an initial court appearance on murder and other charges.
Authorities said they were confident he acted alone but did not offer any details on what might have motivated him to open fire at the store.
“It would be premature for us to draw any conclusions at this time,” Michael Schneider, the agent in charge of the FBI’s field office in Denver, said.