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Colorado Springs suspect charged with 305 counts, including hate crimes

Community members, close friends and former employees paid respects on Nov. 22 to the five victims who lost their lives at Club Q in Colorado Springs. (Video: Zoeann Murphy, Alice Li/The Washington Post)
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COLORADO SPRINGS — Anderson Lee Aldrich, who is accused of fatally shooting five people and wounding 17 others at a Colorado Springs nightclub last month, was formally charged with 305 counts, including murder, hate crimes and assault, on Tuesday.

Aldrich allegedly entered Club Q, a haven for the city’s LGBTQ community, shortly before midnight armed with a pistol and an assault-style rifle and began firing. The attack ended when other patrons subdued the assailant, authorities say. Aldrich, appearing in court Tuesday for the second time since the shooting, did not speak at the hearing.

The charges include 10 counts of murder, along with multiple counts of attempted murder, assault, attempted assault and hate crimes, Michael J. Allen, the district attorney for the region, told the court. If convicted of murder, Aldrich could be sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole, Allen told reporters after the hearing.

Dozens of counts of hate crimes — known as bias-motivated crimes in Colorado — reflect the number of people investigators have so far identified who were present at the club at the time of the attack, Allen said. More victims may be identified, which could lead to additional charges, he added.

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

The suspect accused of killing five people inside a Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub was charged with 305 counts of murder, hate crimes and assault on Dec. 6. (Video: Reuters)

Police and prosecutors have provided limited information to the public about the investigation into the Club Q shooting and Aldrich’s possible motive. The county district court judge presiding over Tuesday’s hearing ordered the arrest warrant affidavit — which can include a narrative of how law enforcement officials say the attack unfolded — to be unsealed Wednesday, agreeing to a prosecution request to allow victims and their families time to digest its contents.

Aldrich, 22, is being represented by public defenders, who in court records have said the suspect is nonbinary and uses the pronouns they/them. Allen said the suspect’s gender identity is “part of the picture” but did not influence the decision to file hate crimes charges, which he said prosecutors have evidence to support.

Aldrich shuffled into the courtroom Tuesday in a lime-green prison uniform. The suspect seemed alert and healthy; in the previous court appearance, Aldrich appeared incoherent and heavily bruised.

The shooting was the latest mass killing in Colorado, home to a disproportionate share of such attacks. It has spurred renewed calls by members of the state’s Democratic-controlled legislature for stronger state gun laws.

Colorado has a red-flag law, which allows authorities to remove guns from potentially dangerous people. Aldrich was arrested last year in connection with an alleged bomb threat that prompted a partial evacuation of the Colorado Springs neighborhood where Aldrich and Aldrich’s mother lived. Aldrich was charged with kidnapping and felony menacing but, for reasons that remain unclear, was never prosecuted. No bomb was found.

It is not clear when or how Aldrich gained access to weapons or whether the red-flag law would have applied. Allen declined to comment Tuesday on how the suspect obtained the guns.

A preliminary hearing was scheduled for late February. Allen said a jury trial is unlikely to begin before the end of 2023.

Mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado

What we know: The suspect, Anderson Lee Aldrich, will be formally charged at a hearing today. Aldrich is accused of fatally shooting five people and wounding 17 others at a Colorado Springs night club last month. Records show that Aldrich changed his name at age 15, obscuring a tumultuous past.

Remembering the victims: Officials on Monday identified the five victims killed in the Colorado Springs shooting. Their names are Daniel Aston, Raymond Green Vance, Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh and Derrick Rump. Here’s how to help family members of the victims and survivors of the Club Q shooting.

Stopping the shooter: An Army veteran who was at the nightclub to celebrate a friend’s birthday with his family disarmed and subdued the gunman. Here’s how the Club Q shooting unfolded.