Mar 26, 2021
Boulder, CO Police Press Conference Transcript March 26: Mass Shooting Update
Boulder, Colorado police officials held a press conference on March 26, 2021 to provide updates on the mass shooting that took place in a supermarket on Monday. Read the full transcript of the briefing speech here.
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Dionne Waugh: (00:00)
D-I-O-N-N-E W-A-U-G-H. We want the public to know we have ASL interpreters here. We also have Spanish interpretation. If you need headsets, please see Marina. She can give you a headset. Here’s what’s going to happen. In a few minutes, Chief Maris Herold is going to come down and speak as is District Attorney Michael Dougherty. Her name is spelled Maris, M-A-R-I-S H-E-R-O-L-D. And he’s District Attorney Michael, M-I-C-H-A-E-L, Dougherty, D-O-U-G-H-E-R-T-Y. They will each briefly give a statement and then they will take a few questions.
Chief Maris Herold: (00:49)
So, the chief is a little on the shorter side. Is it possible to have the gray mic moved down so we’re not going to block her face? That’s much better, thank you.
Dionne Waugh: (00:59)
And, we’ll check the sound.
Speaker 3: (01:24)
Dionne Waugh: (01:24)
We have asked them to remove their masks when they come to the podium, so it’s easier to hear and to speak.
Dionne Waugh: (02:27)
Chief Maris Herold is going to be our first speaker. Chief.
Chief Maris Herold: (02:36)
Thank you for coming today. I think it’s very important that I give an overview of the last five days work. So the community is walking step by step through this investigation, and then we’re being as transparent as possible. So with that, I want the community to know, in the past five days, 26 law enforcement agencies have been working around the clock to determine a timeline of events leading up to Monday’s mass casual shooting that occurred at the King Soopers. But, like the rest of the community, we too want to know why, why that King Soopers, why Boulder, why Monday. And unfortunately, at this time we still don’t have those answers.
Chief Maris Herold: (03:20)
As of Friday afternoon, Friday, March 26, there have been 167 individuals, both federal, state and local agencies that have worked over 3000 hours on this investigation. This is common practice, but I can’t tell you enough, my appreciation for the assistance we’re getting in this investigation from the federal, state and local agencies.
Chief Maris Herold: (03:45)
But let me just give you a timeline of what we’ve done since Monday to recap this week. The coroner’s office worked tirelessly to identify 10 victims in very quick order. The Boulder police detectives worked with the district attorney’s office to charge the suspect with 10 counts of murder in the first degree and one count of attempted murder in the first degree. The officer who exchanged gunfire with the suspect has been put on administrative leave per our normal standard operating procedures. The officer, an 11 year Boulder Police Department veteran was not injured during this incident. The firearm used by the suspect in King Soopers on March 22nd, is a semi-automatic Ruger AR-556 pistol. It was legally purchased in a gun store in Arvada, Colorado. The defendant was also in possession of a nine millimeter handgun, but at this time we do not believe that gun was used in this incident.
Chief Maris Herold: (04:48)
On Wednesday, the crime scene personnel finished the King Soopers lot parking lot and was able to successfully release many of those vehicles to the rightful owner. Yesterday, a team of investigators, including myself, did a walkthrough of the entire crime scene, which was very complex and obviously very challenging to not only myself, but the investigative team.
Chief Maris Herold: (05:19)
I just want to say a few things about the community. We have received such an outpouring of sorrow, grief and it’s just been extremely heartening for me to see how the community supports this police department and the other victims involved in this unbelievable incident. For that, I just want the community to know that I’m very grateful. I also want to end on this because I have never seen this happen in my 30 year career. We have been able to successfully pull a team of victims advocates from across this region to work, not only with our police department, but all of the victims family. And I think that is so important because this is just the beginning of this journey. And this will be at least a year long’s journey for these victims families and the police involved in this case. So I have never seen such a great tool used in such a wonderful way. And for that, I’m extremely grateful as well. And I think we’re going to answer some questions after District Attorney Michael Dougherty speaks. Michael.
DA Micael Dougherty: (06:43)
Thank you, Chief. Good morning, everyone. My name is Michael Dougherty. I am the district attorney for Boulder County. On Monday, Boulder suffered devastating, horrific and traumatic attack to our community. 10 people were killed and many others were placed in grave danger. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their loved ones, and this community during the difficult time that we’re all going through. And we are committed to ensuring that justice is done for each and every one of the victims and for their loved ones.
DA Micael Dougherty: (07:16)
Yesterday, the defendant had his first advisement in court. He was advised of his rights by the judge and he’s currently being held without bond and remains in custody. Next week, the court will announce the next court date and we’ll share that information with the community as soon as the court announces the court schedule. And at some point, we’ll have a hearing. It’s called a proof evident presumption grade hearing, which in Colorado is required by law when someone’s being charged with first degree murder and held without bond. The court has allowed some time for that hearing to take place so that the defense attorneys and the prosecutors have time to go through all the video evidence, all the reports and all the discovery. And again, that next court date will be announced by state judicial next week.
DA Micael Dougherty: (07:59)
I do want to stress, of course, the defendant has the right, the constitutional right to a fair trial. It is important that I stress that every time I talk to the media and community for a few reasons. First and foremost, it’s the right thing for me to say and the right thing for us to do, to ensure that he has a fair trial and that at the end of the trial he be held fully responsible for his actions. Second, I want to make sure that we use due caution in talking about the case and the facts of the case in order to protect his right to a fair trial, but also to make sure that that trial takes place here in Boulder County. If we share too much about the facts of the investigation, it’s possible, we’ll see a motion by the defense to move this trial to somewhere else in the state of Colorado. And I want to make sure that the people of Boulder have the opportunity for this trial to be held and for justice to be done here in Boulder County. So you’ll hear me say, every time I meet with the press now that charges has been filed, that the defendant is presumed unless, and until, he’s proven guilty.
DA Micael Dougherty: (08:59)
It will be a lengthy court process. In every murder prosecution, the process takes at least a year for us to complete. I anticipate that, that will be the same in this case. So I share that with you as I do with the victims’ families and every homicide case, just so you as a community, have an understanding of how long this process is going to go for. And we will, as the Chief highlighted, keep everyone updated throughout that entire process. I promise you that.
DA Micael Dougherty: (09:26)
I also emphasize it because, over the past few days, we’ve seen a tremendous outpouring of support for all the victims families and for the community members devastated by the attack that took place on Monday. It’s my hope and my request that that support for the victims families and for everyone impacted by this horrific attack, continue all throughout the next few months and until justice is done in this case and beyond. They’re going to need that kind of help and support for years. So we’ve seen a tremendous outpouring of support over the last few days. We stand now in front of a patrol car. And when we met with you on Tuesday, you could see it clearly. And now you see today, how many flowers are placed here. You go to King Soopers, you see the flowers and memorials that have been set up there. That support for the victims, it’s my hope and certainly my intent, to continue that throughout this entire process.
DA Micael Dougherty: (10:20)
The defendant’s currently charged with 10 counts of murder in the first degree. He’s charged with one count of attempted murder in the first degree. Additional charges of attempted murder in the first degree will be filed in the very near future. I will share with you that officers from the Boulder Police Department and the University of Colorado Boulder Police Department, so both Boulder PD and CU Boulder PD, responded very, very quickly to the report of shots being fired at the King Soopers. Immediately after responding, they charged into the store. Their actions saved others, other civilians, from being killed. They charged into the store and immediately faced a very significant amount of gunfire from the shooter who at first they were unable to locate, and they put their lives at risk, and that will be reflected in additional attempted murder charges that will be filed by the district attorney’s office in the next couple of weeks.
DA Micael Dougherty: (11:19)
In addition, I anticipate other charges will be filed in the weeks ahead. And as that information is finalized, I will make that available to the media and to the community. As a result of the actions of law enforcement, there was significant danger to civilians who were still in the supermarket and significant danger to the community. That danger ended because of the response of law enforcement. The police chief mentioned that there’s an officer on administrative leave, and as she pointed out, that’s standard protocol. Anytime we have an officer involved in shooting in Boulder County or anywhere in the state of Colorado, there’s a certain protocol that we’re required to follow. That protocol involves a multi-agency team of high-level detectives, investigators, and district attorney staff assigned to investigate the officer’s use of physical force or deadly physical force against another individual. That protocol has been followed since the evening of the shooting.
DA Micael Dougherty: (12:16)
So by that, I mean that multi-agency team responded to the scene on Monday night and began their investigation. They’ve been investigating throughout the week. That multi-agency team, in order to maintain the integrity of the investigation does not include anyone from the Boulder Police Department, it’s investigators from other agencies. The district attorney’s office will continue to oversee and support that investigation. The investigators met just yesterday in a different law enforcement facility elsewhere here in Boulder County to brief everyone on the status of that investigation. And once it’s determined whether the officer was justified in firing his weapon or not, that decision and all the accompanying materials will be shared with the public and with the community and available through the district attorney’s office.
DA Micael Dougherty: (13:01)
As in other mass tragedies and mass shootings here in Colorado, there has been tremendous inter-agency assistance and cooperation. I can’t stress enough how many federal, state and local partners have come together in response to this devastating attack. Standing behind me today again, we stand shoulder to shoulder united in ensuring justice is done for the victims, their loved ones and the Boulder community are the FBI, the US Attorney’s Office, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, ATF and various law enforcement agencies and partners from all around the Metro jurisdiction. As the chief highlighted, we also have victim advocates all around the Metro jurisdiction, responding to help the victims, families in this case, and connect with the many people who are being impacted by the shooter’s actions on Monday.
DA Micael Dougherty: (13:56)
There’s a lot of work that remains to be done. This just happened on Monday, but I will share with you that the investigation is progressing rapidly. All the agencies involved and committed to ensuring justice is done have been working incredibly hard, day and night, as they will throughout the weekend, to make sure that all the information that can be learned about the shooter, the victims, the witnesses, King Soopers, any connection between all of those, becomes comes known and is available to the successful prosecution of the offender. But I really do want to highlight everyone, including Coroner Emma Hall and her staff, for how hard they’ve been working since this tragedy took place on Monday.
DA Micael Dougherty: (14:39)
I will also thank the other district attorneys from around the state of Colorado and around the country who’ve reached out to offer their support and assistance. We greatly appreciate all the help and assistance that we’re receiving here in Boulder from all around the state and all around the United States.
DA Micael Dougherty: (14:56)
To the victims’ families and to this community, I promise you that we will work tirelessly to make sure that the right thing happens in that case. That is my firm and solemn commitment. And everyone in this building, everyone connected to this investigation, shares that determination and focus. We’d be happy to take a few questions from members of the media now. Thank you.
Speaker 6: (15:18)
Have you ruled out the possibility that this could be linked to international terrorism or at least inspired by it?
DA Micael Dougherty: (15:25)
Thank you for your question. I do appreciate having the assistance and expertise of the FBI, as I’ve talked about. They have their evidence recovery team at the scene. They do an absolutely outstanding work at the crime scene. It’s a very large scene. And answer to your question, the FBI, CBI and all the law enforcement agencies involved are doing a deep dive into the offender’s background, as well as the background of everybody involved in this incident, victims, witnesses, and so forth. And at this point we don’t have any particular information to share in that regard. We’ll continue to look into it and any connection we can find, we’ll make available to the public once we determine whether it’s accurate or not.
Speaker 7: (16:04)
Is there any indication that Al Issa returned back to Syria where he was born?
DA Micael Dougherty: (16:09)
I don’t have that information at this point.
Speaker 8: (16:11)
Do you think a motive will… We’re seeing it in a lot of these shootings, sometimes motive isn’t always clear and we may never learn a motive of some of these shooters. Do you think that’s possible in this case [inaudible 00:16:24] or maybe the motive is not clear or not enough for you to talk about and say [inaudible 00:16:29]
DA Micael Dougherty: (16:30)
That’s a good question. I think the victim’s families and the community are desperate to know the motive. We want to know the motive and that’s going to be the focus of all our efforts going forward, whether or not we’re able to determine it, remains to be seen.
Speaker 8: (16:41)
[crosstalk 00:16:41] As you stand here today, you can’t say that you have a clear motive at this point?
DA Micael Dougherty: (16:41)
It’s still very early in the investigation and that’s going to remain a focus for us going forward. Yes.
Speaker 9: (16:53)
The Chief mentioned that this was a very complex scene. Can you explain more about that, Chief, what makes the scene so complex?
Chief Maris Herold: (17:01)
Sure. Just the vastness of the scene. You’re talking about a huge supermarket, obviously, a huge parking lot, numerous vehicles. It’s just one of the most complex scenes I’ve ever worked personally. And that’s why I’m so grateful that the FBI and their crime scene team is here in the state. CBI is here. It would take the Boulder Police Department weeks to get through a crime scene this complex. And so, thanks for your question.
Speaker 10: (17:31)
[crosstalk 00:17:31] Had the suspect been to this supermarket before? Any indication as to why he chose this supermarket, 30 miles away from where he lived?
Chief Maris Herold: (17:40)
I really do wish I could tell you that. I just don’t know. And like the DA said, that’s the focus now of what we’re trying to figure out. It will be something haunting for all of us until we figure that out. And like someone said, sometimes you just don’t figure these things out, but I am hoping that we will.
Speaker 11: (17:59)
Hey Chief, has the suspect talked to his attorneys? Or Mr. Dougherty, can you answer this question? Has the suspect talked to his attorney [inaudible 00:18:06] outside the court hearing that took place yesterday?
DA Micael Dougherty: (18:10)
Any conversations between the defendant and his counsel, of course, would be privileged and protected. We would not have that information available to us.
Speaker 12: (18:16)
Michael, can you share anything or give us any insight about any possible further review of the gun purchase that was made at the Eagle’s Nest Armory by the suspect?
DA Micael Dougherty: (18:30)
As the Chief indicated in her remarks, the suspect is believed to have used an AR-556 pistol that was purchased legally in Arvada, Colorado. He was also in possession of a nine millimeter handgun. And at this point in time, it’s not believed that that was used during the incident. The ATF and FBI have done a tremendously thorough investigation into the guns that he had on him that day, as well as other firearms that might be connected to him. And that investigation is ongoing.
Speaker 13: (18:59)
And what about the magazines?
Speaker 14: (18:59)
What can you say to the community, when you purchase a gun legally, when there were so few red flags, what is the answer going forward about how do we [inaudible 00:19:10]
DA Micael Dougherty: (19:10)
So I’ve spoken loud and clear over the years since becoming district attorney about the need for us to reduce gun violence in Colorado and throughout the United States. At this point in time, those discussions and real action needs to continue. I’m going to remain very focused on this case. It is my primary focus. And today we stand just a few days after this mass shooting and I’m going to keep the victims and their loved ones and the successful prosecution of this case as my focus.
Speaker 15: (19:37)
Chief, were any of the victims hit by friendly fire?
Chief Maris Herold: (19:44)
I do not believe so at this time. Obviously, we’re going to be investigating this for weeks and weeks, but at this time I just don’t know that.
Speaker 16: (19:54)
[crosstalk 00:19:54] Do you know how many shots were fired by the gunman? How many shots the gunman fired?
Chief Maris Herold: (19:58)
I don’t have that information. Michael, do you have that information?
DA Micael Dougherty: (20:01)
I do have a preliminary idea as to how many shots were fired. We’re not ready to confirm the number yet. It’s a painstakingly thorough investigation being conducted by the FBI Evidence Recovery Team. So to answer your question, yes, we do know the number, but we’re not ready to finalize that number and confirm that it’s accurate.
DA Micael Dougherty: (20:17)
If you picture a supermarket, picture all the shelves, all the products, everything. They’re going through every single shelf, pulling everything off the shelves, looking in the walls, and that is going to continue throughout the weekend. Once that crime scene is released, we’ll be in a position to announce the number of bullets that were fired by the shooter in this case.
Speaker 17: (20:34)
And Mr. Dougherty, do you know if it was a high capacity magazine that was used? Do you know if that was legal magazine or if he maybe purchased a kit?
DA Micael Dougherty: (20:42)
So more information on the firearms will be released in the future, but at this point, this is all we’re going to say on the firearms. We’re still conducting a very thorough investigation with the help from the ATF and the FBI on the firearms that he had on him that day and other firearms within his possession.
Speaker 18: (21:00)
[crosstalk 00:21:00] Has his family been cooperative… Have they been able to shed any light on the days leading up to this?
DA Micael Dougherty: (21:05)
Thank you for your question. I’m not going to talk about any particular witness. What I would say is, if anybody out there has any information, I really encourage you to contact the Boulder Police Department or the FBI tip line with information. And for witnesses who have been cooperative with the investigation, we greatly appreciate that cooperation. It’s going to allow us to ensure that justice is done in this case. And it’s my hope that all witnesses will cooperate going forward.
Speaker 19: (21:28)
[crosstalk 00:21:28] you don’t really have an idea if how many people were actually inside.
DA Micael Dougherty: (21:41)
It was a grocery store in the middle of the day. So from your own experience, we’ve all been to the supermarket. That’s how many people were there. And the defendant, but for the actions of law enforcement and the quick thinking by a lot of the people in the supermarket, this would have been much, much worse, in terms of the number of victims. In answer to your question, it’s been reported that there have been security concerns around the defendant. That’s not exactly unusual necessarily. I don’t have any specific information, but there have been other cases where there might be a particular concern and the individual’s moved to another facility. And that’s all I have on that particular question.
Speaker 20: (22:18)
Do you have any information about a stop at another King Soopers, I think the day after the shooting or something involving a lot of police [inaudible 00:22:28] press conference so I wanted to see if you had any information, whether it was related to this-
DA Micael Dougherty: (22:32)
So your question is about a different individual after this mass shooting took place?
Speaker 20: (22:37)
DA Micael Dougherty: (22:37)
I don’t have any specific information on that at this time.
Speaker 21: (22:39)
Was the shooter attacked by anyone in the store while he-
DA Micael Dougherty: (22:44)
Did you say attacked?
Speaker 21: (22:47)
Yeah. Did anyone try to [inaudible 00:22:47]
DA Micael Dougherty: (22:47)
Okay. I couldn’t hear you. I’m sorry. We’re still going through all the evidence and there’s still a lot of witness interviews to be conducted and video evidence to be examined.
DA Micael Dougherty: (22:56)
I think we’ll take one more question and then wrap it up for today.
Speaker 22: (23:03)
Was there a shootout between the police and the suspect?
DA Micael Dougherty: (23:04)
Shots were fired between the police and the suspect, yes. And that’s why there’s a police officer on administrative leave now, which again is our standard protocol in Boulder County. Anytime an officer discharges his or her firearm, the Boulder Police Department puts that individual on administrative leave, and we initiate our officer involved shooting protocol to conduct a thorough investigation and make sure that we determine whether the discharge of the firearm was justified or not.
Speaker 23: (23:27)
The leg wound, is that from an officer’s shot? Do you know at this time?
DA Micael Dougherty: (23:32)
It’s too early for us to confirm that. Thank you.
Speaker 24: (23:34)
Did he surrender immediately after he was shot?
DA Micael Dougherty: (23:38)
So I appreciate your question. I’ll just leave it with this, that law enforcement’s response saved additional lives from being taken and more detail will be shared in the weeks ahead. Thank you so much for being here today. I’m going to turn it back over to Dionne.
Dionne Waugh: (23:50)
Thank you. They actually have another investigative briefing to get to, so they don’t have time for any more questions. I do have a fact sheet with some of the information. They talked about the number of agencies, number of tips, number of hours that investigators and detectives from all these agencies have put in. But this is all the information we have for this morning’s press conference. Thank you.
Speaker 3: (24:13)
Do you have those to hand out?
Dionne Waugh: (24:16)
Yeah. And I will email it as well.
Speaker 3: (24:17)