Colorado Springs shooting: Suspect faces murder and hate crime charges, court records show



CNN

A man suspected of killing five people and injuring 25 others at an LGBTQ sports center in Colorado Springs will face multiple murder and hate crime charges, court records show.

Anderson Aldrich faces five counts of first-degree murder and five counts of felony aggravated assault, according to the El Paso County court’s online docket.

Court records show Aldrich has no bond. The docket does not indicate whether Aldrich retained an attorney.

Although police haven’t released details about a motive, the killings at Club Q — a longtime LGBTQ safe haven — have sparked security concerns.

What started out as a fun night of laughter and dancing on Saturday night turned into a deadly scene when a gunman entered the club and immediately opened fire.

“I looked up and saw a picture of a man with a gun in the door of the club – maybe about 15 feet from me,” said Michael Anderson, who was playing at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Saturday night.

“I leaned behind the bar, and as I did, glass started spitting around me.”

Within minutes, his friend and store manager, Daniel Aston, was seriously injured.

Four more people were killed and 25 others were injured in the attack that was reminiscent of the 2016 Pulse massacre in Orlando, where 49 people at the LGBTQ nightclub were killed.

Anderson said it took her a while to come to terms with the horror. When he did, he thought his life was over. “There was a time when I was afraid that I would not leave the club alive. I have never prayed more honestly and urgently in my life, because I was waiting for the result and I was afraid of what would happen,” Anderson told CNN on Monday.

“While I was praying… the gunshots stopped.”

Two strong people were able to subdue the gunman, Anderson said, preventing a major disaster.

Anderson said: “I saw what I believed to be a gunman lying on the ground, being beaten, punched and yelled at by two very brave people.

He said he did not know who the people who stopped the shooting were.

“But I hope to find out one day, because I truly believe that those two people saved my life,” he said.

Although police have not identified any of the victims, Daniel Aston’s parents told The Denver Post that their son was killed while staying at Club Q on Saturday.

Jeff and Sabrina Aston told the Post that their son moved to Colorado Springs two years ago to be closer to them and got a job at a club, which is minutes from their home.

Anderson, a bartender who survived the attack, said Aston wasn’t just his boss — he was also a friend for years.

“He was the best manager you could have asked for. He got me going, and he got me to be a part of the good culture that we’re trying to create there,” Anderson said.

“He was a wonderful person. He was the light in my life. “This is a reason why we have told him because of his relationship.”

Police rushed to the scene around midnight and found the gun had been dropped by two people, Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said.

In addition to the five people killed, 25 others were injured — including 19 who were shot, Mayor John Suthers said.

The tragedy occurred on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance – which is observed to honor the lives of those who have been lost as a result of anti-Semitism and hate.

Aldrich is facing bias charges after Colorado enacted its 2021 discrimination law.

According to this law, “A person commits a hate crime if, with the intent to threaten or harass another person, IN ANY MANNER OR WAY, because of actual or perceived race, color, religion, parentage, nationality, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation.” ”

Colorado Springs, the state’s second-largest city with a population of less than 500,000, is home to militias and the headquarters of Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian group that says homosexuality and same-sex marriage are sins. .

And until recently, Club Q was the only LGBTQ club in the city.

“This is the only place in Colorado Springs where the LGBTQ+ community can come together and be themselves,” said Cole Danielson, who works as a drag queen at Club Q.

Last month, Danielson and his wife celebrated their wedding there.

But now, “our safety as aliens in Colorado Springs is now being questioned,” Danielson said. “I’m afraid to be like a passer-by in this community.”

Leia-jhene Seals hugs RJ Lewis at the funeral for the victims of the Club Q shooting.

Tiana Nicole Dykes, a resident of Colorado Springs, called Club Q “a second home full of select families.”

“This place means the world to me,” said Dykes, who has close friends killed or seriously injured in the shooting.

“The power, the people, the message. It’s a wonderful place that didn’t deserve this tragedy.

Antonio Taylor, a drag queen and Colorado Springs resident, said Club Q’s welcoming team helped them feel ready to go out.

They said: “This is one of the places where I didn’t worry about my appearance or people hating me because of who I am,” they said. he is made vulnerable. ”

Taylor was scheduled to perform at the club’s Musical Drag Brunch on Sunday. But a mass shooting forced Club Q to close for good.

Jewels Parks, who has been in the Colorado drag scene for over a year, often performs at Club Q under the name Dezzy Dazzles and considers this place to be a place where the brutality of the world is not welcome.

“Club Q, along with all other LGBTQIA+ bars, represents a safe space for people in the community who have felt unsafe and rejected throughout their lives,” Parks told CNN.

“To take away our safe place and lose our community, that’s another kind of crisis,” Parks said. “In the meantime, we should love each other more and be kind to each other.”

Police identified the suspect as Anderson Lee Aldrich. He had a long gun at the time, and two guns were found at the scene, Vasquez said.

Although he opened fire as soon as he entered the group, the officer said the gun violence ended after a few minutes as the witnesses overpowered him.

“At least two brave people inside the club confronted and tackled the suspect and were able to restrain him,” Vasquez said. “We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”

While Aldrich was hospitalized, there have been questions about his past experiences — and whether anything could have been done to prevent the bleeding.

In June 2021, Aldrich was arrested in connection with a bomb threat that caused a disturbance at his mother’s home, according to his mother’s landlord and a news release from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.

Two law enforcement sources confirmed that the suspect in the late night shooting and the bomb threat were the same person based on their name and date of birth.

In 2021, sheriff’s officials responded to a report by the man’s mother that he “intended to harm him with a homemade bomb, multiple weapons, and ammunition,” according to the release.

Officers called the suspect, but he “refused to comply with orders to surrender,” they said, leading them to evacuate nearby homes.

A few hours after the first call, the sheriff’s emergency response team was able to get Aldrich out of the house, and he was arrested after he came out the front door. Authorities did not find any explosives in the home.

Attempts by CNN to reach Aldrich’s mother for comment were unsuccessful.

It was not immediately clear how the bomb threat case was resolved, but the Colorado Springs newspaper reported that the district attorney’s office said no charges had been filed in the case. The district attorney’s office did not respond to a request for comment from CNN.

Aldrich also called the Gazette to try to get a recent story about the 2021 incident removed from its website, the newspaper said. “There is nothing there, the case is closed, and I am asking you to remove or amend the article,” Aldrich said in a voice message, according to the Gazette.

In 2019, Colorado passed an anti-red flag law that allows family members, a roommate, or a law enforcement officer to ask a judge to temporarily seize a person’s firearms if they are deemed dangerous.

When asked why the red flag rule was not used in Aldrich’s case, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said it was “too early to make a decision” in the case.

“We are working hard to educate and raise awareness about the red flag law,” Weiser said.

“I don’t have enough information to know what the officers knew,” he said. “What we can do is make sure we take this as a call to action to educate about the law to make sure law enforcement understands it and uses it to protect lives.”

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