Today we learned the identity of the spree killer in Boulder, Colorado.  Police say they have arrested Ahmad Al Aliwi Al-Issa, 21 for multiple counts of murder. reports he was born in Syria and came to the US as a child.  He also was a very faithful practitioner of Islam.

Perhaps for the first time, thanks to a live-streamer who was present as shots rang out, we have a public record of the initial incident.  Warning:  the video is graphic.  The language is coarse.  The guy running the camera is very annoying and put shooting a live-stream video ahead of rendering aid to save lives.  

The video, while graphic, shows the chaos present at these events.  For instance, people wandered around without a sense of purpose at the entrance/exit doors, oblivious to the great danger lurking within the store even with gunshots continuing within the store.  It’s hard to tell if those people were zombified by what they witnessed or just clueless.

It also offers a lot of lessons for anyone seeking to learn from the incident.

Thanks to a live-streamed YouTube video, we have a timeline for the incident. 

It took over four minutes for the first responding officers to reach the King Sooper grocery store near Boulder after a spree killer began his rampage in the parking lot. 

During that time, the killer hunted people throughout the store.  No fault of the Boulder PD up to this point.  Cops can’t be everywhere.

Those first three or four officers went inside to engage the killer and stop the bloodletting.  Bravo.   Unfortunately for them, the killer was in armor and had a police scanner.  He knew what the police were doing and reportedly laughed at some of their radio traffic.

And responding officers with handguns did not fair so well against the 21-year-old killer armed with a rifle.

From there, the Boulder Police response left a whole lot to be desired.   

Ten minutes in, lots of officers had arrived donning heavy armor and sporting long guns, but none appeared to make entry.  Instead, they stood behind cover and watched.  As if a striped unicorn would carry the bad guy out with his hands up.    Yes, they remained clad in hard armor, far away from the entrance while shots continued to ring out inside the store.

Ten minutes after that, or twenty minutes after the initial calls, police used an armored car to bash a hole in the front of the store.   That plan didn’t go so well.  The cops didn’t even breach the back of the store while the armored truck created tons of chaos up front.  But tunnel vision effects everyone.

Meanwhile the killer kept hunting people and the wounded kept bleeding.  

Thirty minutes into the incident, police edged closer to the entrance using shields, but still offered no obvious aggressive attack to root out the killer.  

At forty-five minutes, heavily armed police got on the store’s roof thanks to a fire department ladder truck. Shots can still be heard from inside the store in the video.  Meanwhile, innocents wounded inside bled and bled some more.

Finally, at fifty-seven minutes, cops perp-walked the handcuffed suspect Ahmad Al-Issa out of the building in his boxers.


One of my favorite training-related photos of all time is one of the Graham Killhouse Rules.  They come from the Graham Combat training group in Virginia.  Here’s an After-Action Report.  (Caution:  I’m not responsible for you spending a couple grand to travel there and another couple grand in tuition and ammo to take the class after reading that AAR.)

Let’s apply those rules to you, gentle reader, and your CCW.  If you were in that store in those opening moments, you were on your own.  Rule #1:  Nobody was coming to save you in those first four minutes.  And once three of the first officers to go in went down with wounds (one fatally), folks inside were really on their own for what turned into almost an hour.

In that scenario, everything would have been your responsibility (Rule #2).  

Rule #3:  Save who needs to be saved.  For me, most of the time when I’m in public, I’m driving a stroller occupied by twin toddlers named Jack and Owen.  I’m their personal protection specialist.  If I’m in Walmart, Kroger or anywhere else and Ahmad Al-Issa comes in and starts shooting, I’m heading for the nearest exit.  I won’t be pushing the boys behind cover or handing them off to the nice grandmotherly-type woman in the cereal aisle and advancing on the threat.  Oh, hell no.

Rule #4:  If I’m alone, I might seek to assess and potentially engage to save innocent lives.   If the opportunity arises, I would likely exploit it.  But I’m not going looking to take out a long-gun toting bad guy with my Glock, because that’s not a fair fight.  Back in the BC times (before children), yeah, I’d kill who needed to be killed.  But these are AD times now (after delivery).  Those boys need a dad to raise them to be men.  And I’m not nearly as spry as I once was.  Old(er) age and treachery only go so far against youth and exuberance armed with a rifle.  

Rule #5:  Always be working!  In the middle of a crisis is a piss poor time to send text messages or live-stream.  Unless you want to meet Mr. Darwin.  Have a mission.  Give direction to those who are stunned or freaking out on your way to completing your mission, whatever you deem that to be.  “You – go across the street and have them call the police and send ambulances!  Do it now!  RUN!”

Or, “Follow me and keep up.  We’re going to go out the nearest exit!”

Over at TTAG, I discussed the BIG TIME importance of keeping your gun holstered unless you’re preparing to take a shot.   There’s nothing but downside to having your gun out unless you’re using it to save your life or that of another.

And unless you chose to engage the killer, you probably should keep your gun holstered so as not to be confused with the murderer(s).

With the gun out, not only do you have to worry about the shooter(s), but also fellow CCWers who might mistake you for the bad guy, along with responding police officers. 

No gun or no need for the gun at the moment?  You can still save lives by rendering aid to the wounded (who might even be you!)  Don’t have any training on the proper care and treatment of gunshot wounds?  You can fix that – for free or close to free!  

Stop the Bleed seminars are excellent and offered nationwide on a regular basis.  We have at least one or two Stop the Bleed instructors within GSL.  It’s a terrific program on controlling blood loss to save lives.  Class sponsors even typically send you home with a nice kit of must-have materials that can save a life just as much as shooting down a would-be killer.

Other classes are available in the “tactical treatment of gunshot wounds.”  I recommend Fortress Defense’s class if they still offer it.  I’ve taken it twice.  There’s even an after-action from it floating around on the internet somewhere.

In the end, the only thing that stops rampaging lunatics with evil in their hearts is one or more good guys with guns.

While we know this, others in Washington and in many states will no doubt use this tragedy to launch a new push to ban America’s favorite rifle. Bank on it, folks. Gun control is coming.

Meanwhile, until and unless they ban your preferred daily carry, (legally) pack your gun every day even when you don’t think you’ll need it. With decent situational awareness and some fundamental tactics, your sidearm will make you a lot harder to kill while allowing you to protect and defend innocent life.