NATIONAL NEWS

Shooter who killed 5 people at Colorado LGBTQ+ club charged with hate crimes in federal court

Jan 16, 2024, 1:33 PM | Updated: 1:40 pm

DENVER (AP) — The shooter who killed five people and endangered the lives of over 40 others at a LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs was charged with federal hate crimes Tuesday.

The charges, which include gun counts, after Anderson Aldrich, 23 , pleaded guilty last June in state court to five counts of murder and 46 counts of attempted murder — one for each person at Club Q during the attack on Nov. 19, 2022.

Aldrich, who is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns, also pleaded no contest to state charges for hate crimes charges under a plea agreement. The plea was an acknowledgment there was a good chance Aldrich would be convicted of those crimes without admitting guilt. The pleas carried the same weight as a conviction.

The federal charges follow an FBI investigation into the shooting that was confirmed after Aldrich’s sentencing in state court. At the time, District Attorney Michael Allen said the threat of the death penalty in the federal system was a “big part of what motivated the defendant” to plead guilty to the state charges.

Aldrich declined to speak at the sentencing hearing in state court, and haven’t said why they hung out at the club, then went outside and returned dressed in body armor. Aldrich began firing an AR-15-style rifle as soon as they came back in.

Prosecutors say Aldrich had visited the club at least six times before that night and that Aldrich’s mother had forced them to go.

In a series of telephone calls from jail, Aldrich told The Associated Press they were on a “very large plethora of drugs” and abusing steroids at the time of the attack. When asked whether the attack was motivated by hate, Aldrich said that was “completely off base.”

The district attorney called those statements self-serving and characterized them as ringing hollow. He said Aldrich’s claim of being nonbinary is part of an effort to avoid hate crime charges, saying there was no evidence of Aldrich identifying as nonbinary before the shooting.

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Shooter who killed 5 people at Colorado LGBTQ+ club charged with hate crimes in federal court