Suspect in Colorado Springs attack charged with murder, hate crimes


COLORADO SPRINGS — The person accused of opening fire at a Colorado LGBTQ nightclub, in a rampage that killed five people and injured at least 17 others, was formally charged on Tuesday with 305 counts, including 10 counts of first degree murder, 86 attempted murder and 48 bias crimes.

Police say the suspect, 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, walked through the front door of Club Q in Colorado Springs around midnight on November 19, wearing a body armor and carrying an assault rifle, and immediately started shooting. The attacker was tackled and beaten into submission by two unarmed club patrons and held until police arrived.

Tuesday’s hearing was the first time the defendant has appeared in court in person since the shooting. Dressed in bright yellow prison smocks, the defendant was upright and attentive, and appeared to have recovered significantly since a video court appearance in the days immediately following the shooting. At the time, the suspect appeared to be slumped, with swollen closed eyes and a bruised face, and had difficulty speaking.

The accused is being held without bond at the El Paso County Jail. After charges were filed on Tuesday, the judge handling the case, Michael McHenry, scheduled a preliminary hearing in the case for February. At the request of prosecutors, the judge agreed to unseal the affidavit of arrest by Wednesday.

No clear motive for the shooting has emerged publicly. But the inclusion of charges of bias-motivated crimes, commonly known as hate crimes, by prosecutors suggests they believe the attack was specifically motivated by antipathy toward the LGBTQ community.

Speaking to reporters after the hearing, District Attorney Michael Allen declined to discuss details of the investigation, but said his office was confident it had evidence to prove the crime-motivated charges. prejudices.

“We are not going to condone actions against members of the community based on their sexual identity,” Mr. Allen said. “Members of this community have been harassed, intimidated and abused for far too long.”

Defense attorneys say the defendant identifies as non-binary and uses the pronouns “they” and “them”. When asked by reporters if the defendant’s gender identity figured in the bias-motivated crime charges, Mr Allen said it was “part of the picture”.

Prosecutors chose to charge two counts of murder for each of the five people killed at the club, saying the defendant acted both with deliberation and intent, and with extreme disregard for human life.

Colorado abolished its death penalty in 2020, so the maximum possible sentence in this case is life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Mr. Allen said more charges were filed in the case than in almost any other in state history. The number of charges could change, he said, as investigators try to track down everyone who was at the club that night.

The accused was arrested in 2021 for issuing a bomb threat during a clash with police that lasted for hours. According to The Gazette, a Colorado Springs newspaper, an affidavit filed in connection with that arrest quoted the defendant as saying he wanted to be “the next mass shooter.” The details of this arrest have been sealed by a judge, and it is still unclear how the case was resolved. The district attorney said state law prohibits him from commenting on the case.



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