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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Federal Charges Filed Against Shooter in Colorado LGBTQ+ Club Killing Spree


DENVER – The shooter who caused devastation at an ‍LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs has ‌appeared in federal court to face hate crime and firearm charges. ​Anderson‌ Aldrich, 23, pleaded​ not guilty to 50 hate ⁤charges and‌ 24 firearm violations. This comes⁤ after ⁤Aldrich pleaded guilty last June in state court to five counts of murder and 46 counts of attempted murder.

Aldrich, who is nonbinary and uses ⁤they/them⁢ pronouns, also ​pleaded no contest‍ to state ​charges for hate crimes under a plea agreement. The plea ⁢was an acknowledgment there was a good chance Aldrich would be ​convicted of those crimes without admitting guilt. The pleas carried the same weight as a conviction.

For Tuesday’s hearing, Aldrich‍ appeared ‌by video and ⁤was represented ‌by David Kraut with the federal public defender’s office. Telephone⁤ and ⁣email messages left with Kraut’s office were not immediately returned.

Jeff Aston, whose son‌ Daniel Aston ‍was shot and killed in the attack, listened remotely to the hearing and said he was ‍shocked‌ to hear Aldrich⁤ plead not guilty.

“This⁢ was a hateful, stupid, heinous⁢ and cowardly ⁢act,” Aston said. “The closest thing to justice that I ​would like to see⁤ is that he has to suffer as much as the suffering‍ he’s caused for⁤ so many victims and family members.”

Onstage, Daniel Aston was known for his⁣ knee-slides and described himself as⁢ the “Master of Silly Business.” After ‍the shooting, his parents said he⁣ found Club Q to⁣ be a safe place to ⁢be a trans man and a drag queen.

The federal charges ​follow an FBI investigation into the shooting⁤ that was‍ confirmed after ​Aldrich’s sentencing in state court. At ​the time, Colorado Springs area District Attorney ‍Michael Allen said​ the threat of the death penalty in the federal system was a “big ⁢part of⁣ what motivated ⁣the defendant” to ⁢plead guilty ⁤to ⁢the state charges.

Aldrich declined to speak at the sentencing hearing in state court, and‌ hasn’t ‍said why he‍ hung out at the club, then went outside and⁣ returned⁢ dressed in body armor. Aldrich began‍ firing an AR-15-style⁤ rifle as soon as‌ he came back in.

Prosecutors say Aldrich had ‌visited the club at least six⁢ times before that night and​ that Aldrich’s mother had forced him to go.

In a series of telephone⁤ calls from jail, Aldrich‍ told the Associated Press he was on a “very large plethora of⁣ drugs” and abusing steroids at the time of the attack. When asked whether the attack was motivated by ​hate, Aldrich said that was “completely off base.”

The district attorney called those statements self-serving and characterized‍ the assertion as ringing hollow. He said Aldrich’s claim of being nonbinary is part of an ⁣effort to ⁤avoid hate crime charges, ⁢saying⁢ there was no evidence of Aldrich ⁢identifying⁢ as nonbinary before the shooting.

During⁣ hearings in the state case in February, prosecutors said Aldrich administered a website that posted a “neo-Nazi white‌ supremacist” shooting training⁣ video. A police detective also testified that online gaming friends said ‌Aldrich expressed ‌hatred for the police, LBGTQ+ people and ⁤minorities, and used racist⁤ and homophobic slurs. One said that Aldrich sent an online message⁤ with‍ a photo of a rifle trained on a gay pride parade.

The attack ⁤shattered the sense of safety at ​Club Q, ‍which served as a ‍refuge for the city’s LGBTQ+ ​community. The ⁣shooting was stopped by a Navy officer who grabbed the barrel of the suspect’s rifle, ‌burning his hand, and an Army veteran helped subdue and⁣ beat Aldrich until police arrived, authorities⁤ said.

The ‌2022 attack came more than a year after Aldrich was arrested for investigation⁤ of threatening⁢ his grandparents ⁤and vowing to ‌become “the next mass killer” while stockpiling weapons, body armor and bomb-making materials.

Those charges were eventually dismissed after ‌Aldrich’s ​mother and grandparents‍ refused to cooperate with prosecutors.

Last year Aldrich⁢ was moved ​to the Wyoming State Penitentiary due to safety concerns about the high-profile case, according ‍to Alondra Gonzalez, spokesperson for the‌ Colorado Department of Corrections.

It is important to remember the victims and the impact ⁣this tragedy has had on the LGBTQ+ community. Our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of those affected by this senseless ⁣act of violence.

Truth Media Network
Truth Media Network
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  1. Agree: This is a horrifying tragedy. It’s crucial that justice is served and the shooter faces the appropriate charges for the devastating loss of innocent lives.


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