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Club Q shooting suspect charged with 305 counts, including first-degree murder, assault, bias-motivated crimes

4th Judicial District Attorney: 'We are not going to tolerate actions against community members based on their sexual identity'
Colorado Springs Shooting
Posted at 8:58 AM, Dec 06, 2022

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The suspect accused of killing five people and injuring more than a dozen others in a mass shooting at a LGBTQ+ club in Colorado Springs last month was charged by prosecutors with 305 counts, including first-degree murder, assault and bias-motivated crimes.

The charges against 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, which were announced Tuesday morning during a formal filing of charges court hearing, also include dozens of sentence enhancers which will allow prosecutors to seek heavier penalties under Colorado law should they be convicted, according to court records released during the hearing.

The suspect faces 10 counts of first-degree murder, divided into 5 counts each of first-degree murder after deliberation and first-degree murder—extreme indifference, which carry a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. He also faces dozens of counts for attempted first-degree murder, assault and bias-motivated crimes.

"I think the message that we sent is obviously, 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," said Fourth Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen during a news conference after the court hearing.

Allen did not detail the charges in Tuesday's hearing but said they included “many counts of bias motivated crimes.” He declined to discuss what evidence prosecutors found to back the hate crimes charges.

He also said it was "almost likely" that the number of charges in the case could be amended if officials identify additional victims from the shooting.

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

4th Judicial District Attorney speaks after filing of charges in Club Q shooting case

Judge Michael McHenry ordered the arrest warrant affidavit in the case to be unsealed on Wednesday, over the objections of the suspect's attorney who said he was concerned about the defendant’s right to a fair trial due to publicity surrounding the case.

The suspect, who identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns, was arrested shortly after the shooting for investigation of five counts of first-degree murder after deliberation and five counts of bias-motivated crime—causing bodily injury after the shooting, but wasn't formally charged until Tuesday.

They are accused of carrying out the massacre just before midnight on Nov. 19 at Club Q, killing five people and injuring 19 others before they were subdued by two men. The Colorado Springs police chief said the suspect used a long rifle in the shooting and was wearing body armor at the time he was apprehended. Another weapon was also found at the scene of the deadly mass shooting.

Experts say someone who is nonbinary can be charged with a hate crime for targeting fellow members of the same group because hate crime laws are focused on the victims, not the perpetrator.

But bringing a hate crime case to 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 the suspect may have made about the shooting, Frank Pezzella, an associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said.

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

Police have still not confirmed a motive in the case, but Club Q owners and the LGBTQ+ community called the shooting a “hate attack” and officials said they would treat the investigation as one potentially involving a hate crime.

More than year prior to the deadly shooting at Club Q, the suspect was arrested and accused of making bomb and weapons threats against their mother.

Ring doorbell video obtained by Denver7 shows the suspect arriving at their mother’s front door with a big black bag, telling her the police were nearby and adding, “This is where I stand. Today I die.”

The defendant was booked into jail on suspicion of felony menacing and kidnapping, but the case was apparently later sealed and the charges dropped. There are no public indications that the case led to a conviction, but Denver7 and other news organizations are working to have the case unsealed.

A preliminary/proof evident hearing in the Club Q shooting case is scheduled for late February 2023.

In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Matthew Haynes, one of the owners of Club Q, said the club was encouraged by Tuesday's events and encouraged everyone to speak up for LGBTQ+ people not just in Colorado but nationwide.

"The tragedy at Club Q shows that words matter and that words have real-world consequences. 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," Haynes said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.