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Earlier case against Club Q suspect collapsed when witnesses refused to testify, prosecutor says

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A judge has dismissed a 2021 criminal case against Anderson Lee Aldrich, the suspect in the mass murder at a Colorado nightclub last month, after relatives who reported threats from Aldrich refused to cooperate, an official said Thursday. prosecutor.

Authorities seized two firearms from Aldrich — a “ghost” pistol with no serial number and an AK-15-style semi-automatic weapon — and those guns were never returned, said District Attorney Michael J. Allen to reporters in Colorado Springs. The felony charges were pending for 383 days, during which time Aldrich was prohibited from acquiring firearms, Allen said.

But despite relatives reporting Aldrich to police for threatening to carry out a shooting and bombing, prosecutors have repeatedly been unable to serve them with subpoenas, Allen said.

Allen said Thursday that during a court hearing in July, Aldrich’s defense attorney asked that the case be dismissed and told the judge that prosecutors had made “very valiant efforts” to serve subpoenas to witnesses, but that “there was no way these people would show up. The case was closed that day.

“We did everything we could have done in this case,” Allen said, adding, “We have to bring the real person to the stand.”

Allen spoke to reporters shortly after a judge uncovered the 2021 case, which raised questions about the effectiveness of Colorado’s “red flag” law and whether whether law enforcement officials attempted to prevent the shooting at Club Q. This law allows family members or authorities to request the temporary confiscation of firearms from people who pose a threat to themselves or for others.

Before the seal was unsealed on Thursday, authorities had declined to comment on the bomb threat case, citing state law they said prevented them from doing so. Allen called out what he called a “false narrative” that he said unfairly blamed prosecutors for dropping the buck on the case and obscuring details about it. He said his office asked the judge to pursue the case the day it was dismissed.

In the absence of testimony from Aldrich’s grandparents, who reported the 2021 threats, “I don’t see anything in this prior case that would have prevented the Club Q shooting,” Allen said.

The unsealed case was posted on a Colorado courts website late Thursday afternoon. According to arrest documents, Aldrich’s grandparents told law enforcement officials that Aldrich wanted to “be the next serial killer” and that he had weapons and bomb-making equipment. .

The documents say Aldrich held the grandparents at gunpoint and told them they couldn’t sell their house because “it would interfere with his plans to carry out a mass shooting and bombing.” Records indicate the grandparents fled the house and called 911, after which police arrested Aldrich on suspicion of threatening felony and kidnapping from Aldrich’s mother’s home.

Aldrich’s attorney on Thursday objected to the disclosure of the records, as did Aldrich’s mother, Laura Voepel. Voepel’s attorney argued that doing so could subject her to harassment or retaliation. A lawyer listed in a court document as representing Pamela Pullen, Aldrich’s grandmother, did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation that she did not want to testify. Aldrich’s defense attorney at the time also did not immediately respond to a request for additional information.

Aldrich was formally charged this week with 305 counts of murder, attempted murder, assault, attempted assault and hate crimes in the Club Q shooting, which left five dead and 17 injured. It remains unclear when and how Aldrich came to possess the weapons used in the assault.

An affidavit of arrest unsealed on Wednesday says Aldrich entered the club shortly before midnight in a body armor and almost immediately began shooting “indiscriminately”, before being arrested by patrons.

Hours later, Voepel told investigators that she and Aldrich planned to go to the movies at 10 p.m. that night, the affidavit states. Aldrich, however, left for an errand, saying it would take 15 minutes, but never returned. Voepel told officials the only weapon the couple possessed was a pocket knife belonging to Aldrich, according to the report.

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