Colorado gay club shooting suspect charged with hate crimes

Dec 5, 2022, 8:25 AM | Updated: Dec 6, 2022, 6:16 pm
In this image taken from El Paso County District Court video, Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, center, sit...

In this image taken from El Paso County District Court video, Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, center, sits during a court appearance in Colorado Springs, Colo., Tuesday, Dec. Nov. 6, 2022. Aldrich, the suspect accused of entering a Colorado gay nightclub clad in body armor and opening fire with an AR-15-style rifle, killing five people and wounding 17 others, was charged by prosecutors Tuesday with 305 criminal counts including hate crimes and murder. (El Paso County District Court via AP)

(El Paso County District Court via AP)

              In this image taken from El Paso County District Court video, Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, center, sits during a court appearance in Colorado Springs, Colo., Tuesday, Dec. Nov. 6, 2022. Aldrich, the suspect accused of entering a Colorado gay nightclub clad in body armor and opening fire with an AR-15-style rifle, killing five people and wounding 17 others, was charged by prosecutors Tuesday with 305 criminal counts including hate crimes and murder. (El Paso County District Court via AP)
            
              In this image taken from El Paso County District Court video, Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, center, sits during a court appearance in Colorado Springs, Colo., Tuesday, Dec. Nov. 6, 2022. Aldrich, the suspect accused of entering a Colorado gay nightclub clad in body armor and opening fire with an AR-15-style rifle, killing five people and wounding 17 others, was charged by prosecutors Tuesday with 305 criminal counts including hate crimes and murder. (El Paso County District Court via AP)
            
              In this image taken from El Paso County District Court video, Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, center, sits during a court appearance in Colorado Springs, Colo., Tuesday, Dec. Nov. 6, 2022. Aldrich, the suspect accused of entering a Colorado gay nightclub clad in body armor and opening fire with an AR-15-style rifle, killing five people and wounding 17 others, was charged by prosecutors Tuesday with 305 criminal counts including hate crimes and murder. (El Paso County District Court via AP)
            
              In this image taken from El Paso County District Court video, Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, center, sits during a court appearance in Colorado Springs, Colo., Tuesday, Dec. Nov. 6, 2022. Aldrich, the suspect accused of entering a Colorado gay nightclub clad in body armor and opening fire with an AR-15-style rifle, killing five people and wounding 17 others, was charged by prosecutors Tuesday with 305 criminal counts including hate crimes and murder. (El Paso County District Court via AP)
            
              In this image taken from El Paso County District Court video, Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, center, sits during a court appearance in Colorado Springs, Colo., Tuesday, Dec. Nov. 6, 2022. Aldrich, the suspect accused of entering a Colorado gay nightclub clad in body armor and opening fire with an AR-15-style rifle, killing five people and wounding 17 others, was charged by prosecutors Tuesday with 305 criminal counts including hate crimes and murder. (El Paso County District Court via AP)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — The suspect accused of entering a Colorado gay nightclub clad in body armor and opening fire with an AR-15-style rifle, killing five people and wounding 17 others, was charged by prosecutors Tuesday with 305 criminal counts including hate crimes and murder.

The counts against Anderson Lee Aldrich include 48 hate crime charges, one for each person known to have been in the club at the time.

Investigators say Aldrich, 22, entered Club Q, a sanctuary for the LGBTQ community in the mostly conservative city of Colorado Springs, just before midnight on Nov. 19 and began shooting during a drag queen’s birthday celebration. The killing stopped after patrons wrestled the suspect to the ground, beating Aldrich into submission, they said.

Aldrich sat upright during Tuesday’s hearing and appeared alert. In an earlier court appearance just a few days after the shooting, the defendant was slumped over — head and face covered with bruises — and had to be prompted by attorneys to respond to questions from a judge.

The shooting came more than a year after Aldrich was arrested following a standoff with SWAT teams after authorities say Aldrich threatened to stockpile guns, ammo and body armor to become the “next mass killer.” But charges were dropped, the record is sealed and prosecutors say they can’t legally talk about what happened.

Of the 48 hate crime charges, 27 counts involve injuries and 21 involve people fearing injury or property damage. In addition to those killed or wounded by gunfire, police have said five people had non-gunshot injuries and other victims had “no visible injuries.”

Club Q’s co-owner, Matthew Haynes, said the filing of 305 charges “graphically illustrates how heinous and horrific this attack was on our community.”

To Haynes, dozens of letters on his desk filled with negative comments, some saying the shooter was doing God’s work, reinforces his concerns about those he said propagate hate.

“Those feelings are still not condoned by the far-right, the leaders are not unanimously standing up in this country and saying, ‘Hey, no hate, this is too much,'” said Haynes. “How many more victims does there have to be?”

Aldrich had been held on hate crime charges following the attack but prosecutors had said previously they weren’t sure whether those counts would stick because they needed to assess if there was adequate evidence to show it was a bias motivated crime.

District Attorney Michael Allen had noted that murder charges would carry the harshest penalty — likely life in prison — but also said it was important to show the community that bias motivated crimes are not tolerated if evidence supports the charge.

At a news conference after the hearing, Allen declined to discuss what evidence prosecutors found to back the hate crimes counts. However, he said a recent change in Colorado law allows offenders to be charged with hate crimes even if they are only partially motivated by bias.

“If it was not for that change we would probably not be able to charge it in this case,” he said.

Judge Michael McHenry ordered the arrest warrant affidavit to be unsealed Wednesday, over the objections defense attorney Joseph Archambault who cited concern’s about his client’s right to a fair trial due to publicity surrounding the case.

Aldrich is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns, according to defense court filings. They were arrested at the club by police and have not entered a plea or spoken about the events.

Allen said the suspect being nonbinary was “part of the picture” in considering hate crime charges but he wouldn’t elaborate.

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

Experts say a nonbinary individual can be charged with a hate crime for targeting fellow members of the LGBTQ community because hate crime laws are focused on the victims, not the suspect. But obtaining a hate crime conviction can be difficult, because prosecutors must prove what motivated the defendant, a higher standard than usually required in court.

Colorado prosecutors will need concrete evidence such as statements Aldrich may have made about the shooting, said Frank Pezzella, an associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

“It’s got to be more than (they) shot up Club Q,” he said.

Haynes said he is encouraged by assurances offered by the district attorney to prosecute the case to the full extent of the law.

The co-owner, who remembers Christian protesters outside Club Q when it first opened in 2003, also lauded police and the FBI for being sensitive to victims’ preferred pronouns and chosen names. He added that the mayor’s office is working with the co-owners toward remodeling Club Q and installing a memorial for the victims.

“Twenty years ago this would have been very, very different,” said Haynes.

According to witnesses, Aldrich fired first at people gathered at the club’s bar before spraying bullets across the dance floor during the attack, which came on the eve of an annual day of remembrance for transgender people targeted by violence.

—-

Associated Press writer Jesse Bedayn contributed to this report from Denver. Bedayn is a corps member for The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Ukrainian State Emergency Service firefighters put out a fire after Russian shelling hit a shopping...
Associated Press

EU officials hold Kyiv talks in show of support for Ukraine

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Top European Union officials were due to meet Friday in Kyiv with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a show of support for the country as it battles to counter Russia’s invasion and strives to join the EU as well as NATO. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council […]
1 day ago
Tronco, or multiple foot stocks used to to constrain enslaved people, are seen at the Slavery exhib...
Associated Press

Dutch slavery exhibition to open at UN headquarters

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A landmark exhibition on slavery in the Dutch colonial era that was first staged at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum is going on display at the United Nations in New York. The show, titled “Slavery. Ten True Stories of Dutch Colonial Slavery,” will open in the the U.N. headquarters’ visitors’ lobby from Feb. […]
1 day ago
A sister wears headwear showing a picture of The Last Supper, as she and a group of the Catholic fa...
Associated Press

Pope heads to South Sudan to urge peace as fighting kills 27

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — Pope Francis opened the second and final leg of his African pilgrimage by heading to South Sudan on Friday, hoping to encourage the young country’s stalled peace process and draw international attention to continued fighting and a worsening humanitarian crisis. Francis had one final appointment Friday in Kinshasa with Congo’s bishops […]
1 day ago
This grab from video released by Adani Enterprises Ltd. on Thursday, Feb.2, 2023 shows Indian billi...
Associated Press

Indian tycoon Adani hit by more losses, calls for probe

NEW DELHI (AP) — Trading in shares in troubled Adani Enterprises gyrated Friday as the flagship company of India’s second-largest conglomerate tumbled 30% and then rebounded after more than a week of heavy losses that have cost it tens of billions of dollars in market value. The debacle, which led Adani to cancel a share […]
1 day ago
A sister wears headwear showing a picture of The Last Supper, as she and a group of the Catholic fa...
Associated Press

AP Week in Pictures: Europe and Africa

JAN. 27-FEB. 2, 2023 From the Pope’s visit to Congo and South Sudan, to the Ski Flying World Cup in Austria and the presentation of Leopard 2 tanks in Germany, this photo gallery highlights some of the most compelling images made or published in the past week by The Associated Press from Europe and Africa. […]
1 day ago
ADDS PENTAGON RESPONSE THAT IT WOULD NOT CONFIRM - A high altitude balloon floats over Billings, Mo...
Associated Press

China says it’s looking into report of spy balloon over US

BEIJING (AP) — China said Friday it is looking into reports that a Chinese spy balloon has been flying in U.S. airspace and urged calm, adding that it has “no intention of violating the territory and airspace of any sovereign country.” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning also said she had no information about whether a […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Colorado gay club shooting suspect charged with hate crimes