COLORADO SPRINGS — A 23-year-old suspect pleaded guilty Monday to carrying out a mass shooting at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub last year that killed five people and injured 22 others.
Anderson Aldrich pleaded guilty in the Nov. 19 attack at Club Q during his arraignment in El Paso County District Court on Monday. Aldrich pleaded guilty to five counts of first-degree murder and 46 counts of attempted first-degree murder.
Aldrich also pleaded no contest to two counts of bias-motivated crime, acknowledging that prosecutors likely could prove Aldrich acted at least in part because Club Q was an LGBTQ bar and was patronized by people who identify as LGBTQ.
Aldrich will be sentenced to five consecutive life terms.
The 23-year-old originally was charged with more than 300 counts in connection with the massacre, including first-degree murder, attempted murder, assault and bias-motivated crimes.
Video surveillance footage played in court showed that Aldrich donned body armor and attacked the club just before midnight, opening fire on patrons and staff with what authorities described as an “AR-15-style rifle.” Aldrich was tackled by two club patrons and disarmed shortly before police arrived.
Fourth Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen brought hate-crime charges against Aldrich, and prosecutors argued during a preliminary hearing that Aldrich targeted Club Q at least in part because it was an LGBTQ space. Prosecutors pointed to a photo that Aldrich had shared of a rifle scope aimed at a gay pride parade, and that he was an administrator of a website to which a neo-Nazi, white supremacist propaganda video was posted.
But Aldrich’s public defenders pushed back against those allegations. Aldrich, whose attorneys said identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns, had visited Club Q at least six times in the 15 months before the attack as a patron — apparently without incident, the defense attorneys said. In court, they showed a photo of Aldrich smiling in the club in August 2021 with their mother.
Prosecutors suggested at Aldrich’s preliminary hearing that Aldrich’s mother abused them and pushed them to go to gay clubs against their will. On Monday, Aldrich pleaded no contest to a felony count of bias-motivated crime as well as a misdemeanor count of bias-motivated crime.
“Because of the evidence presented, I believe there is a high probability of being convicted at trial to those counts, and so I am pleading no contest,” Aldrich said during the guilty plea.
Aldrich also was prescribed medications for schizophrenia, mood disorders and depression, the attorneys said, and had used illegal drugs before the mass shooting.
In interviews with the Associated Press before the guilty plea, Aldrich said they wanted to take responsibility for the killings and denied that the attack was motivated by hate against the LGBTQ community.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
Source: Berkshire mont