Charges filed in Colorado gay club shooting
COLORADO SPRINGS, (NewsNation) — Officials have charged a 22-year-old man with five counts each of murder and committing a bias-motivated crime in connection with Sunday’s deadly shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, court records show.
Authorities had been searching for a possible motive after the suspect, whom police identified as Anderson Lee Aldrich, killed at least five people and injured 25 people.
A person the same age and with the same name was charged Monday in El Paso County court with multiple counts of Class 1 and 5 felony charges.
Officials said they believe the gunman opened fire with an AR-15-style semiautomatic weapon inside Club Q sometime shortly before midnight Sunday. Police said he was also carrying a handgun and additional ammunition magazines.
According to a news release from Colorado Springs police, injuries and fatalities include:
- 5 deceased community members
- 17 community members who are injured because of a gunshot wound
- 1 community member who was injured, but not because of a gunshot wound
- 1 community member who was a victim with no visible injuries
“We know many more community members were present at Club Q during the shooting, who may be victims with no visible injuries,” police said in an official statement Monday. “An example is a community member who ran out as the shooting occurred. We are asking anyone in the community who might have been a victim or has information about a potential victim, or might have seen something, has information about this incident, to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) by calling1-800-CALL-FBI (or 1-800-225-5324).”
Investigators as of Monday morning were still determining a motive and whether to prosecute it as a hate crime, El Paso County District Attorney Michael Allen said to NewsNation on-air Monday morning.
“We’re looking at also hate crime potentially if there’s any bias-motivated aspects of this. There’s obviously some evidence of that based on the fact of where this occurred,” Allen said. “We’re going to be looking closely at that and any statements that he may have made prior to coming down here to commit this horrible act.”
Allen told NewsNation that Aldrich should be released from the hospital Monday, and he could appear in court Monday or Tuesday.
Aldrich remained at the hospital Monday afternoon. As such, a photo of him was not available, Colorado Springs police said.
Those updates, which NewsNation originally expected to come during a news conference earlier this afternoon, were announced in a news release issued via email.
One victim killed in the shooting, Daniel Aston, a 28-year-old transgender man and the self-proclaimed “Master of Silly Business,” was remembered by his mother in an interview with NewsNation affiliate KDVR Sunday night. . Aston had performed and bartended at Club Q, a place his mother said allowed Aston to be himself.
The attack ended when a patron grabbed a handgun from the suspect and hit him with it, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers told The Associated Press. The person who hit the gunman had him pinned down when police arrived, Suthers said.
Witnesses described a harrowing two minutes where Aldrich allegedly worked his way through the club firing his rifle into the crowd while guests ducked for cover or ran for the doors.
Of the 25 injured, at least seven were in critical condition, authorities said. Some were hurt trying to flee, and it was unclear if all of the victims were shot, a police spokesperson said. Among them was the DJ performing that night and an 80-year-old man, who was described as a regular at Club Q.
Suthers said there was “reason to hope” that all of those hospitalized would recover.
Joshua Thurman said he was in the club with about two dozen other people and was dancing when the shots began. He initially thought it was part of the music until he heard another shot and said he saw the flash of a gun muzzle.
Thurman, 34, said he ran with another person to a dressing room where someone already was hiding. They locked the door, turned off the lights, and got on the floor but could hear the violence unfolding, including the gunman getting beaten up, he added.
“There was nothing stopping that man from coming through those doors, the doors were locked but they weren’t bolted. There was nothing stopping it from coming through and ending us all.”
At least two people are now being called heroes, credited with charging Aldrich, grabbing his gun, hitting him with it, and pinning him down until the first police officers arrived three minutes later. Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said their quick thinking saved countless lives.
Detectives also were examining whether anyone had helped Aldrich before the attack, Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said. He said patrons who intervened during the attack were “heroic” and owed a debt of gratitude for preventing more deaths.
Club Q is a gay and lesbian nightclub that features a drag show on Saturdays, according to its website. Club Q’s Facebook page said planned entertainment included a “punk and alternative show” preceding a birthday dance party, with a Sunday all-ages drag brunch.
Suthers noted that the club had operated for 21 years and had not reported any threats before Saturday’s attack.
NewsNation affiliate KDVR and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
This story is developing. Refresh for updates.
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