COLORADO SPRINGS (KXRM) — In a hearing for the alleged Club Q shooter Tuesday morning, District Attorney Michael Allen announced that the suspect faces 305 charges, including first-degree murder, “bias motivated crimes” and others.
Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, sat upright in a chair during the hearing and appeared alert. In an earlier court appearance just a few days after the shooting, the defendant’s head and face were covered with bruises and Aldrich had to be prompted by attorneys to respond to questions from a judge.
On Saturday, Nov. 19, just before midnight, the suspect allegedly opened fire with a “long rifle” inside the LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs. Five people were killed and 17 more were injured by gunfire.
The five people killed in the Club Q shooting were Kelly Loving, Daniel Aston, Derrick Rump, Ashley Paugh, and Raymond Green Vance.
Two people identified by the Colorado Springs Police Department, Thomas James and Richard Fierro, helped to subdue the gunman before police arrived.
Aldrich had been held on hate crime charges but prosecutors had said previously they weren’t sure if 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 there was evidence to support the charge.
Aldrich, who is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns according to defense court filings, was arrested at the club by police. They have not entered a plea or spoken about the events.
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 Aldrich 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.
According to the court, the preliminary hearing for Aldrich is set for Feb. 22-24, 2023. The prosecution also stated during Tuesday’s hearing that there may be more potential victims that have not been identified.
The arrest affidavit for the alleged Club Q shooter will be released to the public on Wednesday, Dec. 7.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.