Colorado LGBTQ club shooting: Suspect held on murder, hate crime charges

(COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.) — The man suspected of gunning down multiple people at a LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado’s second-largest city over the weekend could face murder and hate crime charges.

The suspect — identified as Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, of Colorado Springs — is currently being held without bond on 10 “arrest only” charges — five counts of first-degree murder and five counts of committing a bias-motivated crime causing bodily injury, according to online court records for Colorado’s El Paso County.

However, those charges “are only preliminary,” according to Colorado’s Fourth Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen, who serves El Paso and Teller counties.

“There have been reports that charges have been filed. That is not true,” Allen said at a press conference in Colorado Springs on Monday afternoon. “Any case like this, an arrest warrant will be written up that is supported by probable cause affidavit and that will be submitted to a judge for approval of the arrest of a suspect. That has occurred here in this case.”

“Any charges associated with an arrest warrant are only preliminary charges,” he added. “Very customary that final charges may be different than what’s in the arrest affidavit. Typically, there will be more charges than what is listed in the arrest affidavit. So don’t be surprised when you see a different list of charges when we finally file formal charges with the court.”

Aldrich allegedly began shooting a long gun as soon as he entered Club Q in Colorado Springs late Saturday night. At least five people were killed and 17 others were wounded by the gunshots, according to the Colorado Springs Police Department, which named the deceased victims as Daniel Aston, Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh, Derrick Rump and Raymond Green Vance.

Police said “two heroes” — identified as Thomas James and Richard Fierro — confronted Aldrich and fought with him, stopping him from shooting more people. Officers responded to the scene and detained Aldrich just after midnight, less than six minutes after the first 911 call came in, according to police.

Aldrich was injured in the alleged incident and remains hospitalized. Once medical personnel determine he can be released to authorities, Aldrich’s first court appearance will be scheduled, which Allen said he expects to happen “in the next few days.” That appearance will be done via video link from jail, according to the district attorney.

“We will advise the suspect at that time of arrest charges and his bond status,” Allen told reporters. “He is being held without bond, so he will not have the opportunity to be bonded out.”

“Within a few days of that first appearance is when we will return to the courtroom and file formal charges with the court,” he added.

The El Paso County district court has sealed the arrest warrant and supporting documentation connected with Aldrich’s arrest. According to the motion by prosecutors, if the records were “released, it could jeopardize the ongoing case investigation.”

In June 2021, Aldrich was arrested in an alleged bomb threat incident after his mother alerted authorities that he was “threatening to cause harm to her with a homemade bomb, multiple weapons, and ammunition,” according to a press release posted online last year by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. While no explosives were found in his possession, Aldrich was booked into the El Paso County Jail on two counts of felony menacing and three counts of first-degree kidnapping, according to the sheriff’s office.

Aldrich’s 2021 arrest may not have appeared on background checks because the case does not appear to have been adjudicated, officials briefed on the investigation told ABC News.

ABC News and other news organizations have petitioned the court in Colorado to unseal the records regarding Aldrich’s 2021 arrest.

Colorado’s red flag law, which went into effect in 2020, allows relatives, household members and law enforcement to ask a judge to order the seizure of a gun owner’s weapons if that owner is believed to be a risk to themself or others. It’s unclear whether that law would have stopped the suspect from targeting Club Q, according to El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder, who did not recall the circumstances surrounding Aldrich’s 2021 arrest when asked by ABC News.

Club Q has been serving the Colorado Springs community for two decades and was considered a safe haven for LGBTQ people. The nightspot hosts a weekly drag show and live DJ on Saturday nights, according to its website.

Club Q co-owner Nic Grzecka told ABC News that Aldrich was a stranger to their long-established venue.

“He’s never spent money on a credit card or ID ever scanned in our business that we know of,” Grzecka said in an interview on Sunday. “I think this was a community of target for him.”

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers told ABC News that the suspect “had considerable ammo” and “was extremely well armed” when he allegedly walked in to Club Q. While a motive remains under investigation, Suthers said “it has the trappings of a hate crime.”

“But we’re going to have to see what the investigation shows in terms of, you know, social media and things like that to make a clear determination exactly what the motive was,” the mayor said in an interview on Monday.

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