Metro Weekly

Club Q Shooter Formally Charged with First-Degree Murder

Anderson Lee Aldrich faces 305 counts of first-degree murder, assault, and hate crime charges for fatally shooting five nightclub patrons.

Police respond to reports of a mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado on Nov. 19-20, 2022. – Photo: Trey DeaBueno, via Wikimedia.

The alleged shooter in the November mass shooting at the LGBTQ nightclub Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has been formally charged with 305 counts of murder, assault, and hate crime charges for the attack, which killed five and wounded at least 19 others.

Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, appeared in court on Tuesday wearing a bright yellow prison jumpsuit. Colorado’s Fourth Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen announced the 305 charges against Aldrich, which range from Class 1 to Class 5 felonies. 

Aldrich, whose attorneys say identifies as nonbinary, could face up to life in prison, without parole, if convicted on first-degree murder charges, according to CNN.

“When you file 305 counts in a case, that tells the public, this community, this state and this nation that we are taking this case as serious as we possibly can, meaning that we are going to prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the law,” Allen told reporters in a news conference following Tuesday’s hearing. 

Despite the suspect’s gender identity, Allen justified hate crime charges filed against Aldrich.

“We’re not going to tolerate actions against community members based on their sexual identity, those kinds of things,” Allen said. “Members of that community have been harassed, intimidated and abused for too long. That’s not going to occur in the Fourth Judicial District.”

According to prosecutors, Aldrich entered the nightclub shortly before midnight on the evening of Nov. 19, carrying a pistol and a long rifle, and began firing into the crowd. The attack was halted when a couple of patrons subdued Aldrich and detained them until police arrived on scene. 

Aldrich who is being represented by two attorneys from the public defender’s service, did not speak during his court appearance on Tuesday. They remain held without bond while awaiting trial.

Prosecutors initially requested that charging documents in the case be sealed, in order to avoid prejudicing the investigation, which was still active. But a judge has since ordered the arrest affidavit — which includes a narrative on how the attack unfolded — to be unsealed, meaning it, along with potentially heretofore unknown details of the attack, will become available to the public on Wednesday.

The motive for the shooting still remains unknown, as the club’s owners told The New York Times that Aldrich was not a regular at the club.

Aldrich was previously involved in an incident in which their mother contacted law enforcement, claiming her child had threatened her with a homemade bomb, multiple weapons, and ammunition. No bomb was ever found, but Aldrich was arrested following a brief standoff with police. The charges were subsequently dropped and the records were sealed. 

Aldrich is next scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 22, 2023 for a preliminary hearing, after which he will be arraigned, Allen told CNN.

Matthew Haynes, one of the owners of Club Q, thanked prosecutors for pursuing the charges against Aldrich.

“We are encouraged by this morning’s announcement of formal charges in the heinous and deadly attack at Club Q, as it cements what we already knew: this was a targeted hate crime,” Haynes said in a statement. “The charges also affirm what we as a community demand: hate has no place here in Colorado Springs or anywhere. We are certain the Colorado District Attorney will prosecute and punish this mass murderer to the fullest extent of the law.

“The tragedy at Club Q shows that words matter and that words have real-world consequences,” Haynes added. “We continue to call out those who spread disgusting rhetoric and encourage violence against the LGBTQ community, to end this behavior immediately before more people get hurt. And we urge everyone to do what they can to speak up for LGBTQ people and everyone’s right to be safe.”

One Colorado, the state’s leading LGBTQ advocacy organization, also weighed in on the latest development.

“With a total of 305 formal charges, today Colorado prosecutors put forward the full scope of the case against the shooter who entered Club Q, killing 5 and injuring 19 more,” the statement reads. “One Colorado joins our community as we continue to grieve for the five lives lost: Ashley Paugh (35 years old), Daniel Aston (28 years old), Raymond Green Vance (22 years old), Derrick Rump (38 years old), and Kelly Loving (40 years old). We are unwavering in our continued relief efforts and support for Club Q and the LGBTQ+ community in Colorado Springs. We stand resolute with LGBTQ+ Coloradans, our families and allies, as we await further adjudication, expecting justice for our community.”

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