Suspects in Colorado shooting face formal charges after club rampage
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Nov 21 (Reuters) – A Colorado man was arrested on Monday after police said he fatally shot five people and left 17 others with gunshot wounds at an LGBTQ nightclub over the weekend before being two visitors rushed in and stopped the attack.
Colorado Springs police have identified the suspect as Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, who was arrested Sunday after the attack at Club Q, a gay, lesbian and transgender nightclub in Colorado’s second-largest city. Police said they have not yet determined a motive for the shooting.
A state judge sealed court records related to the arrest until prosecutors complete their investigation, according to a court filing in El Paso County, home of Colorado Springs.
Local media reported that Aldrich was charged with first-degree murder and bias crimes, but a court official said formal charges have yet to be filed.
Colorado Springs police on Monday revised the total number of wounded to 18. In addition to the 17 people shot, an 18th suffered gunshot wounds, police said.
Police announced on Twitter that they will hold a press conference on Monday at 15:30 local time (22:30 GMT). The U.S. attorney’s office in Colorado said Monday that the FBI is assisting local law enforcement in the investigation.
Aldrich was hospitalized and did not make any statements to investigators, Colorado Springs Deputy Police Chief Adrian Vasquez told CNN on Monday.
Multiple firearms were found at the scene of the brief attack, according to police, who said Aldrich used a “long rifle” to shoot his victims. A makeshift memorial near the club was strewn with flowers and pride flags on Monday.
The shooting – which Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said “looked like a hate crime” – brought to mind the 2016 Pulse massacre when a gunman killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, before he was fatally shot by the police.
Aldrich was known to police before the nightclub shooting. He was arrested in June 2021 after his mother reported to authorities that he had threatened to detonate a bomb and plant multiple weapons at her, according to a news release from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff’s deputies evacuated about 10 nearby homes at the time until Aldrich surrendered. They found no explosives, but Aldrich was booked into the county jail on two counts of “criminal threatening” and three counts of “kidnapping in the first degree,” according to the release. It was not clear when or how he was released.
Leslie Bowman, 41, an account manager in Colorado Springs who rented the room where Aldrich’s mother lived at the time of the 2021 incident, said those charges have not been filed against Aldrich.
Bowman described Aldrich as a heavyset man, over six feet (183 cm) tall, who rarely smiled and had an imposing appearance.
“When I heard that he shot, I was surprised but not surprised at the same time – just knowing what he was doing before,” she told Reuters in a telephone interview on Monday.
PATRONS OF THE HERO CLUB
Police said at least two people at Club Q subdued the gunman shortly after he burst in just before midnight on Saturday, preventing further carnage. Police have not identified them.
One of the patrons grabbed the shooter’s gun and pistol-whipped him, and was still on top of the suspect, pinning him down, when police arrived, Mayor Suthers told the New York Times.
“It was something. It happened pretty quickly. This person was completely incapacitated by 12:02. It had a lot to do with the intervention of these patrons,” Suthers told the Times.
One of the two users who subdued the suspect suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was hospitalized, according to Vasquez. The other person was not injured, he said.
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said in an interview with CNN on Monday that the shooting happened on Transgender Day of Remembrance.
Ashley Paugh, 35, of La Junta, Colorado, was one of five people killed at the club. She was wrapping up a day trip to Colorado Springs with a friend, her sister Stephanie Clark told NBC News. She leaves behind her husband and an 11-year-old daughter,
Paugh, who was not part of the LGBTQ community, was shopping and dining and expected to see a stand-up comedian perform at the club, her sister said.
Another victim was identified as Daniel Aston, 28, a transgender man and bartender at the club who also performed on shows as a dancer, according to a Colorado Public Radio interview with his mother, Sabrina Aston.
“He was the happiest he’d ever been,” Sabrina Aston said. “He was thriving, having fun and having friends. It’s just amazing.”
Reporting by Kevin Mohatt in Colorado Springs, Rich McKay in Atlanta, Katharine Jackson in Washington, Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico and Joseph Ax in New York; Writing by Julia Harte; Editing by Howard Goller
Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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