Shooter Who Killed 5 at LGBTQ+ Club in Colorado Expected to Plead Guilty to Hate Crimes

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Anderson Lee Aldrich, who killed five people and injured 19 others at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs, is expected to plead guilty to federal hate crime and gun charges on Tuesday, following new evidence of anti-gay insults and firearms sales before to the horrific shooting.

Aldrich, 24, is already receiving a life sentence after pleading guilty to state crimes last year. In another case, Aldrich also admitted to committing hate crimes. Federal prosecutors have concentrated on showing that the attack on Club Q, a sanctuary for LGBTQ+ individuals in the predominantly conservative city, was premeditated and motivated by bigotry.

The sentencing arrangement between the prosecution and defense would allow Aldrich to avoid the death penalty in exchange for admitting guilty to 50 hate crimes and gun charges and receiving numerous life terms in addition to a 190-year sentence. United States District Judge Charlotte Sweeney, Colorado’s first openly homosexual federal judge, will determine whether to accept it.

According to recent court files by prosecutors, Aldrich planned a spam email campaign against a former work supervisor who is gay, less than a month before the shooting. They also accuse Aldrich of spreading another person’s manifesto, which contained racist and antisemitic remarks and wrongly stated that being transgender is a mental disorder.

According to fresh evidence presented by prosecutors, Aldrich spent more than $9,000 on weapons-related purchases from at least 56 suppliers between September 2020 and the November 19, 2022, attack.

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Investigators discovered a hand-drawn map of Club Q with indicated entry and exit points inside Aldrich’s flat, which was also submitted in state court. There was also a black binder of training materials headed “How to Deal with an Active Shooter.”

Defense attorneys in the state case, who stated that their client is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns, claimed that Aldrich was high on cocaine and medication at the time. In a series of phone talks from jail with The Associated Press last year, Aldrich declined to answer directly if the attack was motivated by hatred, saying only that it was “completely off base.” Aldrich did not divulge his motivation to the AP or in state court, and he declined to speak before the sentence.

Some of the victims, as well as the district attorney who charged Aldrich in state court, deny the assertion that he is nonbinary, calling it an attempt to dodge hate crime charges.

They include Ashtin Gamblin, who worked the front door that night and is now undergoing physical treatment after being shot nine times. A true member of the LGBTQ+ community would be aware of the prejudice and mental health issues they endure and would not attack its members in such a sanctuary, she stated.

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“To come into the only safe area to do so, you are not a member of the community. “You just wanted the community gone,” Gamblin claimed. She is one of the survivors who are due to speak at the hearing on how the incident continues to influence their lives. According to authorities, Aldrich visited the club at least eight times prior to the shooting, including a stop an hour and a half earlier. Aldrich returned just before midnight, wearing a combat vest with ballistic plates and holding an AR-15-style rifle, and began firing right away. Aldrich killed the first person in the foyer, then shot bartenders and customers at the bar before moving onto the dance floor and reloading the rifle magazine.

The shooting was stopped by a Navy officer who grabbed the suspect’s gun barrel and burned his hand, as well as an Army veteran who assisted in subduing Aldrich until police came, according to investigators.

In June 2021, Aldrich was arrested for threatening their grandparents and stockpiling weapons, body armor, and bomb-making ingredients. This could have prevented the carnage. However, Aldrich’s mother and grandfather refused to participate, and prosecutors neglected to serve subpoenas to family members, which could have saved the case, thus the charges were ultimately dropped.

A felony conviction in the case would have barred Aldrich from legally purchasing additional firearms. However, District Attorney Michael Allen pointed out that the majority of the gun components used in the shooting were untraceable ghost gun parts that Aldrich did not have to pass a background check to obtain. The sheriff’s office was still holding two weapons confiscated from Aldrich in the 2021 case at the time of the Club Q shooting, he stated.

Prosecutors justified the requested term, writing: “The horrors that the victims and survivors faced at the hands of the offender cannot be emphasized. The victims and survivors, who were commemorating Transgender Day of Remembrance, were attacked unexpectedly by someone who had only been in their presence a few hours before.”
Aldrich, who will be remanded to state jail following the hearing, is being sentenced federally under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Offenses Prevention Act of 2009, which broadened federal law to cover offenses motivated by sexual orientation, gender identity, or handicap.

Gamblin desired the death sentence as a recognition of how many people’s lives had been harmed. She stated that some of her acquaintances no longer want to attend parties and that others are struggling to hold professions that require public interaction.

“We want nothing more to go back to normal, but we know it’s not going to happen,” she stated.


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