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



CNN

The man accused of killing five people and injuring 25 others at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub will face multiple murder and hate crime charges, court records show.

Anderson Aldrich is facing five counts of first-degree murder and five counts of bias-motivated crime causing bodily injury, according to an online docket in El Paso County court.

Court records show Aldrich has no bond. The docket does not reflect if Aldrich has retained an attorney.

Although police have not released more details about the motive, the massacre at Club Q – a safe haven for the local LGBTQ community – has undermined the sense of security.

What started as a joyous night of laughter and dancing Saturday night devolved into a scene of terror when a gunman walked into the club and immediately opened fire.

“I looked up and saw the outline of a man holding a gun at the entrance of the club – maybe about 15 feet from me,” said Michael Anderson, who bartended at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado, late Saturday night.

“I retreated behind the bar, and as I did, glass began to erupt around me.”

Within seconds, friend and bar supervisor Daniel Aston was fatally wounded.

Four other people were killed and 25 others injured in the rampage that sparked memories of the 2016 Pulse massacre in Orlando, where 49 people at the LGBTQ nightclub were killed.

Anderson said it took him a moment to process the horror. When he did, he thought his life was over. “There was a moment when I was afraid I wouldn’t get out of that club alive. I’ve never prayed so sincerely and so quickly in my life, because I was hoping for the result and afraid of the result,” Anderson told CNN on Monday .

“When I prayed … the shooting stopped.”

Two heroic people managed to subdue the gunman, Anderson said, preventing an even greater tragedy.

“I saw what I believe to be the gunman lying on the ground, getting beat up and kicked and yelled at by two very brave people,” said Anderson.

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

“But I hope one day, because I believe those two people saved my life,” he said.

While police have not identified the victim, Daniel Aston’s parents told The Denver Post their son was killed while bartending at Club Q on Saturday.

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

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

“He’s the best supervisor anyone could ask for. He makes me want to work, and he makes me want to just be a part of the positive culture that we’re trying to create there,” Anderson said.

“He is an extraordinary person. He is a light in my life. It is still surreal that we are even talking about him in the past tense”.

Police rushed to the scene around midnight and saw the gunman had been lowered 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 falls on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance – observed to honor the lives of trans people lost to anti-trans violence and hatred.

Aldrich faces bias-motive charges after Colorado enacts its bias-motive crime law in 2021.

According to the law, “A person commits a crime motivated by bias if, with the intent to intimidate or harass another person, in whole or in part, because of race, color, religion, descent, descent, national origin, actual or perceived by the person that is, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation.

Colorado Springs, the nation’s second-largest city with just over 500,000 residents, is a military base and the headquarters of Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian group that says homosexuality and same-sex marriage are sinful.

And to this day, Club Q is the only LGBTQ club in town.

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

Just last month, Danielson and his wife celebrated their wedding there.

But now, “our safety as queer people in Colorado Springs is now being questioned,” Danielson said. “I’m afraid to be myself as a trans man in this community.”

Leia-jhene seals hugs RJ Lewis at the vigil for the Club Q shooting victims.

Colorado Springs Lifelong Resident Tiana Nicole Dykes called Club Q “a second home full of chosen families.”

“This room means the world to me,” said Dykes, who had close friends killed or critically injured in the shooting.

“The energy, the people, the message. This is an amazing place that doesn’t deserve this tragedy.

Antonio Taylor, a drag queen and Colorado Springs resident, says the welcoming community of Club Q helps them get ready to go out.

“This is one of those places where I don’t have to worry about my appearance or people hating me for who I am,” he said, adding, “I’m sick to my stomach that a place that I know I’m safe. has been made unsafe.”

Taylor is set to perform at the club’s Musical Drag Brunch on Sunday. But the mass shooting forced Club Q to close forever.

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

“Club Q, and all other LGBTQIA+ bars, represent a safe space for a community that has felt unsafe and rejected for most of their lives,” Parks told CNN.

“To have a safe place taken away from us and to lose a member of our community, is another kind of thing,” Parks said. “Now, we need to love each other a little extra and be kind to each other.”

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

Despite opening fire immediately after entering the club, the chief said, the gunman’s rampage ended within minutes as witnesses subdued him.

“At least two heroic people inside the club confronted and fought with the suspect and that was able to stop the suspect,” said Vasquez. “We owe them a lot of thanks.”

As Aldrich remains hospitalized, questions arise about previous encounters with law enforcement — and whether anything could have been done to help prevent bloodshed.

In June 2021, Aldrich was arrested in connection with a bomb threat that led to a dead end at his mother’s home, according to his mother’s former landlord and a press release from the local El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.

Two law enforcement sources confirmed that the suspect in the nightclub shooting and bomb threat was the same person based on name and date of birth.

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

Deputies called the suspect, but he “refused to comply with the order to surrender,” the release said, leading to the evacuation of a nearby home.

A few hours after the initial police call, the sheriff’s crisis negotiation unit was able to get Aldrich to her home, and she was taken into custody after walking out the front door. Authorities found no explosives at the home.

CNN’s efforts 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 Gazette reported that the district attorney’s office said no formal charges were pending in the case. The district attorney’s office did not respond to a request for comment from CNN.

Aldrich also called on the Gazette to try to have a previous story about the 2021 incident removed from its website, the newspaper reported. “There’s nothing there, the case is dropped, and I’m asking you to remove or update the story,” Aldrich said in the voice message, according to the News.

In 2019, Colorado passed a controversial red flag law that allows family members, roommates, or law enforcement to petition a judge for the temporality of confiscating a person’s firearm if they are considered a risk.

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

“We are working hard to educate and bring more awareness to red flag laws,” Weiser said.

“I don’t have enough information to know what the officer knew,” he said. “All we can do is make sure we embrace this as a call to action to better educate ourselves about this law to make sure law enforcement understands it and can use it to protect lives.”

Source

Also Read :  The First Ever America’s Favorite Pet: Animal Kingdom Has Been Crowned

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Articles

Back to top button