Charges against Club Q shooting suspect Anderson Aldrich can proceed

An El Paso County judge on Thursday allowed all charges to go forward against the suspect in the mass shooting at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ club last year.

Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Michael McHenry rejected arguments from defense attorneys that there was not enough evidence to show the suspect was motivated by hate toward the LGBTQ community. The judge allowed prosecutors to proceed with each of the more than 300 charges against suspect Anderson Aldrich.

Aldrich, 22, is accused of killing five people and injuring 22 others in the Nov. 19 mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs. Aldrich is charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and bias-motivated counts, among other charges. Aldrich identifies as non-binary and uses they/them pronouns, their public defenders have said.

During testimony Wednesday — the first day of Aldrich’s preliminary hearing — prosecutors presented evidence aimed at supporting the bias-motivated charges against the defendant. Investigators testified that Aldrich had shared a photo of a rifle scope aimed at a gay pride parade, used a homophobic slur and said his mother was non-binary and forced him to go to gay clubs.

“He had a particular disdain for the community he did go after and target,” Fourth Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen told the judge as the preliminary hearing continued Thursday. He noted that there were 53 bars within 2.5 miles of Club Q, but Club Q was the only LGBTQ nightclub.

“And that is the one he chose to go to on Nov. 19,” Allen said.

But defense attorneys showed an image of Aldrich at Club Q in August 2021 in which Aldrich posed smiling with their mother, and said Aldrich visited the club six times in the 15 months before the attack without incident. They presented evidence that Aldrich was prescribed medications for symptoms of schizophrenia, mood disorders and depression, and that Aldrich had used illegal drugs before the mass shooting.

“What happened here was senseless, awful and it was tragic,” public defender Joseph Archambault said Thursday. “…But it’s categorically different from a person who targeted a group, who is proud of what they did and hopes other people follow in their footsteps.”

Investigators on Wednesday also presented evidence that Aldrich said to a club patron during the shooting that, “My mom will not accept me because I am gay, you’re all the same.” After the attack, Aldrich cried and said, “I really (expletive) up, I killed all those (expletive) people,” testimony revealed.

Additionally, a note found in Aldrich’s home referenced hate, investigators testified. The note read: “Please relieve me of my own fate, I am drowning in my own wake, how long must I wait for you to rid me of this hate.”

On cross-examination, investigators could not say that Aldrich wrote the note.

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