Grief has surged over the killing of five people at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, raising questions about whether the weekend massacre could have been avoided.
At least 19 people were injured Saturday night at Club Q — a longtime haven for the LGBTQ community and now another crime scene in a country that has averaged two mass shootings a day this year.
Authorities revealed more information about the suspect, 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, who faces five counts of first-degree murder and five counts of bias-motivated crimes (accused elsewhere. known as a hate crime) resulting in an initial charge of bodily harm.
Authorities have yet to formally charge Aldridge, who was hospitalized after being overpowered by two of the club’s “hero” personnel who police believe prevented further tragedies.
crime suspect was transferred Colorado Springs police said Tuesday it was in the custody of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. Aldridge is also listed on the county jail’s online roster.
When asked by CNN on Tuesday if the suspect was cooperating with authorities, Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez told CNN, “We haven’t heard from him yet.”
It is unclear whether Aldridge has an attorney.
According to investigators:
- Vasquez said the suspects came to Club Q Saturday night armed with AR-style weapons and handguns, but mostly used assault-style rifles for the massacre.
- While Colorado has a red flag law designed to temporarily prohibit those deemed a danger to themselves or others from using firearms, if Aldridge’s 2021 case is never decided, or if no one seeks to intervene, the Law probably wouldn’t apply to Aldrich.
The suspect is scheduled to make his first court appearance Wednesday, which will include a “recommendation for arrest charges as well as a recommendation for bail conditions,” said Attorney Michael Allen for the Fourth Judicial District of Colorado.
Allen told CNN’s Erin Burnett that the suspect will be held without bail.
Formal charges will be filed “probably sometime next week, or the next week depending on the court’s schedule,” Allen said, adding that he expected charges to be filed in “about 10 days.”
While the murder charge will offer the longest sentencing option, Allen said he expects there will be more charges beyond that.
“Colorado has bias-motivated crime statutes that most people understand as hate crimes. Given the facts involved in this case, we will certainly consider that,” Allen said. “If there is evidence that it exists, we will absolutely prosecute it as well.”
The United States has a ban on assault weapons, which was implemented in 1994 and expired in 2004.
The ban, while not perfect, “has the effect of limiting the number of high-capacity semi-automatic weapons … that are in circulation,” said CNN law enforcement analyst Andrew McCabe.
“We saw a massive drop in mass shootings and deaths in that time period,” said McCabe, the former deputy director of the FBI. “That’s not even arguable.”
It’s unclear why the felony charges against Aldridge were dropped following the 2021 bomb threat report.
Video obtained by CNN shows Aldridge apparently lashing out at police officers and challenging them to break into his mother’s home, where he was trapped.
“I saw the goddamn shit outside, look at that, they’ve got me,” Aldridge said in the video, pointing the camera at a window with shutters covered. “Did you see that? F**king sh*theads pull out their f**king rifles.”
Later in the video, Aldridge says, “If they break through, I’ll fucking blow it up to hell.”
He appears to have a message for law enforcement outside at the end of the video: “So, uh, come on in, boys! Let’s fuck it!”
The video does not actually show any police officers outside the house, nor is it clear from the video whether Aldridge had any weapons in the house.
Hours after the initial call, the local sheriff’s department’s crisis negotiation team managed to get Aldridge out of the house. Authorities did not find any explosives at the home, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said.
According to a 2021 news release from the sheriff’s office, Allrich was arrested and is being held in the El Paso County Jail on two counts of felony threats and three counts of first-degree kidnapping.
It was unclear how the bomb threat case was resolved, but the Colorado Springs Gazette reported that the district attorney’s office said no formal charges had been filed in the case. The district attorney’s office did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
Law enforcement sources told CNN this week that Aldridge purchased two weapons that were brought to Club Q on Saturday night. But it is unclear whether the AR-style rifle and pistol were purchased before or after the 2021 case.
Aldridge’s arrest for the bomb threat would not show up in the background check because the case was never adjudicated, the charges were dropped and the records were sealed. It’s unclear what prompted the records to be sealed.
In 2019, Colorado passed a controversial red flag law that allows family members, roommates or law enforcement to ask a judge to temporarily confiscate someone’s gun if it is deemed a risk.
When asked on Monday why red flag law Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said that approach was not used in Aldrich’s case and that it was too early to draw conclusions.
“I don’t have enough information to know exactly what the officers knew,” Weiser said.
One caveat of Colorado’s red flag law is that it requires family members, police officers or others to actively initiate a process to try to temporarily prohibit a person who might cause harm from using a firearm.
“Colorado’s red flag law goes into effect when a family member or cohabitant or the police voluntarily submits the necessary documents and presents an argument before a judge that someone should not have access to a weapon,” McCabe said.
“As far as I know, anytime someone is brought into law enforcement, there’s a red flag type of investigation,” he said.
“In this case, it’s not clear to me whether (the suspect) was placed under a temporary restraining order or any kind of mental health evaluation. And even if he was, it’s unclear whether red flags need to be considered when doing a TRO or a mental health evaluation. This It’s completely voluntary.”
Mori. Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said he believed the red flag law was flawed.
“Obviously, the implementation is not perfect in this case,” Hickenlooper said on Tuesday. “Far from perfect. It was a failure by any standard.”
Officials identified those killed as Daniel Aston, Raymond Green Vance, Kelly Lovin, Ashley Bow and Derek Rupp.
At least 605 mass shootings have been recorded in the U.S. so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which, like CNN, counts incidents in which four or more people were killed or injured, excluding the shooter.
Barrett Hudson was shot seven times while trying to flee the gunfire, but survived the massacre.
“Seven bullets hit my spine, hit my liver, hit my colon,” Hudson told CNN. “I’m really, really lucky.”
But Hudson and the other surviving victims grieved the five lives lost.
Ashley Paugh survived her daughter, Ryleigh, who “was her whole world,” Paugh’s family said in a statement.
“She means everything to this family and we can’t even begin to understand what life without her means to us,” her family said.
The family said Pa worked for Kids Crossing, a nonprofit that helps foster children find homes. She is also involved in helping the LGBTQ community find welcoming foster care placements.
Derrick Rump is Club Q’s bartender. His sister, Julia Kissling, “found a group of people he liked so much at Club Q that he felt he could shine there – and he did”.
Kelly Loving’s sister offers condolences to other families as she battles her own grief.
“My condolences go out to all the families who have lost loved ones in this tragic event, and to all those who have struggled to be accepted in this world,” Tiffany Loving said in a statement to CNN.
“My sister is a great person. She is loving, caring and sweet. Everyone loves her. Kelly is a wonderful person.”
Raymond Green Vance, 22, had just found a job at a FedEx distribution center in Colorado Springs, his family said in a statement. “Glad to receive his first salary”.
“His own family and friends are devastated by the sudden loss of a son, grandson, brother, nephew and cousin loved by so many,” the family said.
Police said the massacre could have been worse had it not been for the bravery of two people at the club who fought the gunman.
Officers arrived minutes after the shooting and Richard Fierro and Thomas James overpowered the attacker, police said.
Fierro, a former Army major who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, said he took a gun from the attacker and hit him with it.
The violence and trauma at the club on Saturday night resembled a war zone, the veteran said.
Fierro celebrated his birthday with his wife and daughter in a nightclub. His daughter’s boyfriend, Vance, was also present, but was not spared.
Talking about Vance and the others who were killed, he became emotional.
“I’m not a hero,” Fierro said. “I’m just a guy who wants to protect his kids and his wife, but I still haven’t protected her boyfriend.”