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Suspect charged in Colorado shooting as Senate debates gun control

A suspect was charged Tuesday in the second American mass shooting in less than a week. The shooting in Boulder, Colorado, which left 10 dead, including a responding police officer, has plunged the city into mourning. Over in Washington, DC, Senators met for a hearing on gun control. Yamiche Alcindor begins our coverage, and Colorado Public Radio reporter Ben Markus joins us from the ground.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The bloodbath in Boulder has plunged a city into mourning, and propelled a nation into debating gun control again.

    Those dual developments played out today, as police pursued their investigation.

    Yamiche Alcindor begins our coverage.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Today in Colorado, shock and grief.

  • Gov. Jared Polis:

    My heart aches today, and I think all of ours does, as Coloradans, as Americans, for this senseless tragedy.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    In Boulder, law enforcement have charged the alleged 21-year-old gunman in yesterday's supermarket attack with 10 counts of murder. Today, police said he is in custody, but did not give a motive.

  • Maris Herold:

    We are committed, with state, local, and federal authorities for a thorough investigation and will bring justice to each of these families.

  • Man:

    There's a shooter, active shooter!

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    The rampage began Monday afternoon, when an eyewitness said a gunman armed with a rifle started shooting in the parking lot before entering the store. Hundreds of police officers descended on the store in riot gear, as shoppers scrambled for safety.

  • Sarah Moonshadow:

    We started running here, and there was at least two shots fired at us as we were running.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Police engaged in a shoot-out with the alleged gunman, before taking him from the supermarket, shirtless with blood running down his leg. The victims ranged in age from 20 to 65, among them, 51-year-old police Officer Eric Talley, the first on the scene.

    Today, outside the Boulder police station, his patrol car served as a makeshift memorial.

    The others killed are Denny Strong, 20 years old. Neven Stanisic, 23. Rikki Olds, 25. Tralona Bartkowiak, 49. Suzanne Fountain, 59. Teri Leiker, 51. Kevin Mahoney, 61. Lynn Murray, 62. Jody Waters, 65.

    Yesterday's mass shooting is the latest of many in Colorado in recent memory. In 1999, there was massacre at Columbine High School. In 2012, a dozen people died in an attack on a movie theater in Aurora. And in 2019, one student died in a shooting at a school in Highlands Ranch.

    It also comes a week after the attacks in Atlanta that left eight people dead. And it has prompted renewed calls for gun reform.

    In Washington, the White House paid tribute by lowering flags to half-staff. And President Biden addressed the shooting.

  • Pres. Joe Biden:

    And Jill and I are devastated. And the feeling — I just can't imagine how the families are feeling, the victims whose futures were stolen from them, from their families, from their loved ones.

    We can ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country once again. This is not and should not be a partisan issue. This is an American issue. It will save lives, American lives. And we have to act.

  • Sen. Richard Blumenthal:

    Thoughts and prayers are not enough,

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    On Capitol Hill, the gun control debate played out in a Senate Judiciary hearing on gun violence.

  • Richard Blumenthal:

    There may be some questions about what the motives were for the killer in Boulder, but there's no mystery about what needs to be done.

  • Sen. Ted Cruz:

    Every time there's a shooting, we play this ridiculous theater, where this committee gets together and proposes a bunch of laws that would do nothing to stop these murders.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Later, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pledged to hold a vote on a gun control bill passed by the House. But its prospects are uncertain in a narrowly divided Senate.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Yamiche Alcindor.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    We get the latest from Boulder with Ben Markus, who has been on the ground covering the shooting for Colorado Public Radio. And he joins me now.

    Ben Markus, welcome to the "NewsHour."

    It is, what, about 24 hours after all of this took place. What more are you learning about the shooter himself?

  • Ben Markus:

    So, I spent the better part of the day digging into his past.

    I can tell you that, from people that used to hang out with him on the wrestling team at Arvada West High School, they talked about someone who was prone to anger, who could explode at a moment's notice, but could always be talked down and was otherwise a nice person.

    We have police records from an arrest in 2017, late 2017, so he was still in high school. He walked across a classroom and punched another classmate in the head. He fell out of the chair, and he just kept punching him. He later told the officers that he had been called a racial name of some sort.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And we know, given — and we just were reminded again in Yamiche's report, Ben, about the number of mass shootings, school shootings that have taken place in Colorado in recent years.

    Is that part of the conversation there now?

  • Ben Markus:

    It is.

    I think people define themselves to some degree by what mass shooting they experienced at what time, whether it is Columbine, the Aurora theater shooting, and now this Boulder supermarket shooting.

    I covered the Aurora theater shooting, but I have the colleagues here in the newsroom who covered Columbine. I think there is some soul-searching to think of the Denver metro area as a relatively safe place, with few murders compared to other cities, yet we do have this — spasms of mass shooting violence that happens in and around the suburbs, despite gun control legislation that's been passed at the state level that's been fairly strict, compared to what other states have done, and investments in mental health.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    No question. Gun control legislation has been looked at, but not enough to address this.

    Ben Markus of Colorado Public Radio, we thank you.

  • Ben Markus:

    Thanks for having me.

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