Suspect in shooting that killed 5 at Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub pleads guilty

The accused suspect in Colorado Springs, Colorado, pleaded guilty on Monday to charges of murdering multiple people and injuring 17 others at an LGBTQ nightclub, resulting in the death of five individuals.

Aldrich Lee Anderson initially faced charges of a misdemeanor and a felony, along with more than 300 other crimes connected to a shooting spree at the Q Club in November. However, he did not contest the two counts of bias-motivated crimes and pleaded guilty to five counts of first-degree murder and 23 counts of first-degree murder-degree.

According to the plea deal, Judge Michael McHenry stated that Aldrich would be sentenced to five consecutive life terms with no chance of parole for the murder charges. Additionally, he would serve 46 consecutive 48-year sentences for the attempted murder charges. This plea deal was seen as a way to spare the survivors, victims’ family members, and the judge from enduring a potentially painful trial, many of whom had spoken at Monday’s hearing.

Aldrich discharged rounds using an AR-15-style firearm at the nightclub until bar patrons, including Army veteran Richard Fierro, assisted in restraining them.

“I purposely and with careful thought caused the demise of each individual,” Aldrich informed McHenry on Monday.

Crying could be heard in the courtroom as the names of the victims, including Aldrich’s, were read aloud during the sentencing hearing for the family members and survivors who were killed in the attack that loved ones spoke about. The arraignment shifted into a sentencing hearing for Rump Derrick, Aston Davis, Daniel Kelly, Loving Vance Green, and Raymond Paugh, who killed five people.

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Wyatt Kent, a drag artist who was in a romantic relationship with Aston, a bartender at Club Q, expressed, “We, as individuals within the queer community, experienced an assault on November 19th.” Furthermore, “Not only have I lost my partner and my feeling of security, but I have also witnessed a significant decline in safety within our entire community. This appalling attack took place while I was commemorating my own birthday.”

Mourners at a memorial outside of Club Q on November 22, 2022 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A gunman opened fire inside the LGBTQ+ club on November 19th, killing 5 and injuring 25 others.

Aldrich sentenced to life in prison

Described as a deal that achieves the highest measure of possible justice under the law in the state of Colorado, Attorney Michael Allen continues to move forward on the path of healing for the families and victims, while allowing them to seek justice.

Of all ages.

“Reflect the deepest malice of the human heart, and is almost always born of ignorance and fear.” Saying Aldrich’s actions, McHenry condemned.

McHenry stated, “Do you consider yourself just as integral to the human family as the LGBTQ+ community, and will not be accepted? Such bigotry, like that displayed by the people of Colorado, is condemned by this court’s ruling.”

As Aldrich was sentenced, the district attorney’s office determined a 45-day restitution period. Despite this, Aldrich showed no visible emotion while other victims held each other and cried.

Survivors, victim’s family speak during sentencing

Many, including Sabrina Aston, Aston’s mother, stated that they would not pardon the perpetrator.

Fierro, one of the individuals who helped restrain Aldrich, described the shooting as a “terrorist attack” and branded Aldrich’s actions as “unforgivable.”

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I wanted him to know that his evil was stopped by a transgender woman, a real hero, respected by veterans, LGBTQ folks, and people of color, said Fierro.

“Anderson said he decided to start pursuing us when Aldrich, a regular customer at the Q Club bar in Colorado Springs, mentioned that he was working in the middle of pouring a drink. Anderson was expecting a simple night, but Aldrich stated that the safe haven for the LGBTQ community in Anderson Springs, Colorado had been destroyed.”

Anderson said, “It’s not fair that only I’m the one who got to go out at night and got the clock. I’m grateful to have survived that night.”

Matthew Haynes, proprietor of Club Q, promised that the nightclub would resume operations.

Haynes declared, “The animosity you and others possess will not emerge victorious.” Haynes affirmed, “Club Q will commence with a tribute to those who lost their lives, serving as a lasting remembrance for future generations. Your attempts to dismantle this community have failed.”

Suspect could also face federal hate crime charges

In addition to the numerous state charges, Aldrich may potentially be charged with federal hate crimes, as reported by The Associated Press.

According to the outlet, the Department of Justice is contemplating pursuing federal hate crime charges, as stated by an anonymous senior law enforcement official. It remains uncertain whether the federal inquiry would also address a plea agreement concerning the state charges, as reported by the Associated Press. The Department of Justice chose not to provide any comments.

Some survivors listened to Aldrich’s recorded jailhouse phone calls and saw comments from AP Associated with an attempt to avoid the federal death penalty, as they were told by the outlet the plan to take responsibility for Monday’s attack.

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Anderson Lee Aldrich was formally charged with 305 counts in the Club Q shooting, including hate crimes and murder.

Previously: The judge declines to dismiss hate crime charges against the suspect in the Colorado Springs shooting.

Contributing: The AP.

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