A torrent of grief over the killing of five people at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub has led to increasing questions about whether the weekend massacre could have been avoided.
At least 19 others were injured Saturday night at Club Q – a longtime safe haven for the LGBTQ community and now another crime scene in a country that has experienced an average of two mass shootings every day this year.
Authorities have revealed more about the suspect, 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, who faces preliminary charges of five counts of first-degree murder and five counts of bias-motivated crime — known elsewhere as a hate crime — causing bodily injury.
Authorities have not formally charged Aldrich, who was hospitalized after being subdued by two “heroic” people at the club who credit police with preventing further tragedies.
Suspected was moved to the custody of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office at the jail, Colorado Springs Police said Tuesday. Aldrich is also listed on the county jail’s online list.
When asked by CNN on Tuesday whether the suspect is cooperating with authorities, Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez told CNN, “We have not received any information from him.”
It is unclear whether Aldrich has an attorney.
According to the investigators:
- The suspect brought an AR-style weapon and a handgun to Club Q on Saturday night, but mainly used an assault-style rifle to carry out the massacre, Vasquez said.
- While Colorado has a red flag law aimed at temporarily removing gun access from those deemed a danger to themselves or others, it may not apply to Aldrich if the 2021 case is never prosecuted or if no one ever intervenes.
The suspect is scheduled for his first court appearance on Wednesday, which will include “the advisement of the arrest charges as well as the advisement of bond conditions,” Colorado’s Fourth Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen said.
The suspect will be held without bond, Allen told CNN’s Erin Burnett.
The official filing of charges “will probably be some time next week or, depending on the court schedule, the week after that,” Allen said, adding he expects charges in “about 10 days.”
And while the manslaughter charge will offer the longest sentencing option, Allen said he expects more charges on top of that.
“Colorado has a bias-motivated crime statute, which many people understand as a hate crime. We’re certainly looking at that, based on the facts of this case,” Allen said. will charge that too.”
The United States has an assault-style weapons ban that was implemented in 1994 and expired in 2004.
The ban, while not perfect, “has had the effect of limiting the number of high-capacity semi-automatic weapons … in circulation,” said CNN Law Enforcement Analyst Andrew McCabe.
“We’ve seen a great decline in mass shootings and deaths over that period,” said McCabe, the former deputy director of the FBI. “This is not even debatable.”
It’s unclear whether the felony charges against Aldrich were dropped after the 2021 report about the bomb threat.
A video obtained by CNN shows Aldrich apparently talking about police and challenging them to break into his mother’s home, where she is buried.
“I’ve got these bastards outside, look at that, they’ve got my beads,” Aldrich said in the video, pointing the camera at a window covered with blinds. “You see that over there? The bastard took out his bastard king’s gun.”
Later in the video, Aldrich says, “If they break, I’mma blow the bastards to holy hell.”
He ended the video with a message to law enforcement outside: “So, uh, go ahead and get in, kid! Let’s get the fuck out of it!”
The video does not show officers outside the home and it is unclear from the video whether Aldrich had a weapon in the home.
A few hours after the initial police call, the local sheriff’s department’s crisis negotiation unit was able to get Aldrich out of the house. Authorities did not find any explosives at the home, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said.
Alrich was arrested and booked into the El Paso County Jail on two counts of felony menacing and three counts of first-degree kidnapping, according to a 2021 press release from the sheriff’s office.
It was not immediately clear how the bomb threat case was resolved, but the Colorado Springs Gazette reported the district attorney’s office said no formal charges were pursued in the case. The district attorney’s office did not respond to a request for comment from CNN.
Aldrich bought two weapons that were brought to Club Q on Saturday night, law enforcement sources told CNN this week. But it’s unclear whether the AR-style rifles and pistols were purchased before or after the 2021 case.
Aldrich’s arrest in connection with the bomb threat will not appear in the background check because the case was never adjudicated, the charges were dropped and the records were sealed. It is unclear what prompted the sealing of the records.
In 2019, Colorado passed a controversial red flag law that allows family members, roommates or law enforcement to petition a judge to temporarily seize a person’s firearms if they are considered a risk.
When asked Monday why? red flag law not used in Aldrich’s case, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said it was “too early” to say.
“I don’t have enough information to know what the officer knew,” Weiser said.
One caveat with Colorado’s red flag law is that it requires family members, police or others to actively initiate the process of trying to temporarily remove gun access from others who may cause harm.
“Colorado’s red flag law is used when a family member or cohabitant or a police officer proactively files the required paperwork and goes before a judge and makes an argument that someone should not have access to a weapon,” McCabe said.
“There’s nothing that I’m aware of that warrants a red flag legal review whenever something is brought” to law enforcement, he said.
“It’s not clear to me from this situation whether (the suspect) was given a temporary order or any kind of mental health evaluation. Even if he was, it’s not clear that there is a requirement to consider red flags when there is a TRO or a mental health evaluation. This is completely voluntary.
Sen. John Hickenlooper, former governor of Colorado, said he believes there are imperfections with the red flag law.
“Obviously, the execution is not perfect in this situation,” Hickenlooper said Tuesday. “Far less than perfect. It’s a failure by any measure.”
Officers identified the slain victims as Daniel Aston, Raymond Green Vance, Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh and Derrick Rump.
So far this year, the US has recorded at least 605 mass shootings, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which like CNN tallies incidents in which four or more people are killed or injured, not including the shooter.
Barrett Hudson survived the massacre despite being shot seven times as he tried to escape the gunfire.
“Seven bullets missed my spine, missed my liver, missed my colon,” Hudson told CNN. “I’m really lucky.”
But Hudson and the other victims who survived were wracked with grief for the five lives lost.
Ashley Paugh leaves behind her daughter Ryleigh, who was “her whole world,” the Paugh family said in a statement.
“He meant everything to this family, and we can’t begin to understand what it means to not have him in our lives,” his family said.
Paugh works at the nonprofit Kids Crossing, which aims to help children find homes, the family said. She is also involved with helping the LGBTQ community find welcoming foster homes.
Derrick Rump was a bartender at Club Q. That place was where he “found a community of people that he loved really much, and he felt that he could shine there – and he did,” Sister Julia Kissling CNN affiliate WFMZ.
Kelly Loving’s sister offered her condolences to another family in mourning as she grappled with her own grief.
“My support goes out to all the families who lost someone in this tragic event, and to everyone who is fighting to be accepted in this world,” Tiffany Loving said in a statement to CNN.
“My sister is a good person. He is loving and affectionate and sweet. Everyone loved him. Kelly is a wonderful person. ”
Raymond Green Vance, 22, recently got a job at the FedEx Colorado Springs distribution center and was “excited to get his first paycheck,” his family said in a statement.
“His family and friends are devastated by the loss of a son, grandson, brother, nephew, and cousin who were loved by so many,” his family said.
The massacre could have been worse if not for the bravery of two people inside the club who fought the gunman, police said.
Richard Fierro and Thomas James subdued the attackers before officers arrived just minutes after the shooting began, police said.
Fierro, a former army major who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, said he took the gun from the attacker and used it to hit him.
The violence and trauma at the Saturday night club was akin to a war zone, the veteran said.
Fierro was at the nightclub celebrating his birthday with his wife and daughter. Her daughter’s boyfriend, Vance, was also there but did not survive.
He gets emotional talking about Vance and the others being killed.
“I’m not a hero,” Fierro said. “I’m just a man who wants to protect his children and his wife, and I still can’t protect his girlfriend.”