The suspect accused of mass killing 5 people while taking pictures at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs pleaded guilty in court Monday.
Anderson Lee Aldrich, 23, wearing a blue plaid shirt and blue tie, calmly answered Judge Michael McHenry, pleading responsible for 5 murders and 46 murders.
“I knowingly and knowingly caused the death of each victim,” Aldrich said as people in the packed courtroom wiped away tears.
A responsible prayer means the victims’ households will not be subjected to months of trial, forcing them to relive the day of the shooting, when a suspect walked into Club Q and fired indiscriminately with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.
Aldrich additionally pleaded no contest to 2 bias-motivated crime charges, one a felony and the other a misdemeanor.
Aldrich, who is non-binary and uses the pronouns she and he or her, is now facing life in prison on the murder charges. Colorado now has no forfeiture statute.
Anderson Aldrich pleaded guilty Monday in El Paso District Court to his full arraignment in the Nov. 19 Club Q attack.
The dead person taking the pictures was identified as Kelly Loving, 40; Daniel Aston, 28; Derrick Ramp, 38; Ashley Pagh, 34; and Raymond Green Vance, 22
On November 19, 2022, Aldrich, sporting armor, opened fire at the LGBTQ nightclub Club Q. In addition to the dead, nearly two dozen others were shot or otherwise injured before being stopped by “heroic” patrons.
The dead person taking the pictures was identified as Kelly Loving, 40; Daniel Aston, 28; Derrick Ramp, 38; Ashley Pagh, 34; and Raymond Green Vance, 22.
Dear family members along with Sabrina and Jeff Aston, the dad and mom of Daniel Aston, one of the many bartenders at Club Q, performed at Aldrich’s audition on Monday.
“We are incredibly saddened to lose him,” Jeff Aston said. “We’ll never hear any of his stories again. I’ll never hear him laugh at my father’s jokes again.
As the families continued their impressions, Aldrich kept his head down as public defenders next to him occasionally touched their shoulders, a local journalist told the court.
Raymond Green Vance’s mother, Adriana Vance, told the court: “Families have to find a way to move on somehow. This person does not deserve to continue. Now the point is that he never sees the sunrise or the sunset.
Club Q, an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where the shooting took place
Aldrich, then 22, was formally indicted on 323 felony counts last December 6, but did not enter a plea at the time.
The Club Q shooting echoed the 2016 massacre in which a gunman killed 49 people at Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, before being shot dead by police.
Aldrich, then 22, was formally indicted on Dec. 6 of last year, facing 323 felony counts, but did not enter a plea at the time.
The most serious charges carry life in prison without the possibility of parole.
However, Aldrich could face the death penalty in federal court if prosecutors decide to bring charges under the U.S. Code, which still has the death penalty on the books for certain crimes.
Monday’s hearing came after several jailhouse phone calls from Aldrich to The Associated Press expressing his remorse and his intention to face the consequences of the hearing.
Before Aldrich carried out the fatal shooting, the suspect threatened to kill their grandparents in 2021 for standing in the way of a plan to become the “next mass murderer.”
Aldrich is pictured at the house where their mother rented a room last year after he threatened to blow up their grandparents’ basement
Several survivors told the AP of the plea deal after being contacted about Aldrich’s comments to the AP. They said prosecutors have informed them that Aldrich, who is non-binary and uses the pronouns he and they, will plead guilty to the charges, which carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Aldrich was initially charged with more than 300 state charges, including murder and hate crimes. The U.S. Justice Department is considering federal hate crime charges, according to a senior law enforcement official familiar with the case who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing case.
The attack on Club Q comes more than a year after Aldrich was arrested for threatening their grandparents and promising to be the “next mass murderer.” But in that case, the cost was finally reduced.
Aldrich was then arrested after a standoff with SWAT brokers that was streamed live on Facebook and the evacuation of 10 nearby homes, telling officers, “If they break through, I’m going to blow it up in holy hell!” Aldrich finally gave up.
However, Aldrich’s charges were dropped in July 2022 after the victim’s mother and grandparents refused to cooperate with prosecutors and tried to avoid them with subpoenas based on court documents obtained after the photo shoot. . unsealed. .
Other relations informed the chosen one that they feared Aldrich would corrupt their grandparents if they were released. confirmed.
Aldrich was subsequently released from prison, and at the time of his arrest, authorities seized two weapons, a ghost gun and an MM15 rifle. But there was nothing stopping Aldrich from legally purchasing additional firearms, prompting questions immediately after the shooting about whether authorities should have used the crimson flag order to prevent such purchases.
Club Q victim Kelly Loving, a 40-year-old trans woman, was one of 5 killed during the photo shoot.
Derrick Ramp, 38, was “active in the local LGBTQ community” and loved by family and friends
22-year-old Raymond Green Vance was tragically killed in the carnage of membership
Daniel Aston, 28, was one of many harmless victims killed by the lone gunman
Ashley Paugh, 35, a married mom, was one of the 5 victims
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said it could not seek a court order to prevent Aldrich from buying or possessing guns because the 2021 arrest case was sealed after the price reduction.
There was no new evidence they could use to show Aldrich posed a risk “for the foreseeable future,” the sheriff’s office said.
Investigators later discovered that the two weapons Aldrich had in his possession at the time of the Club Q attack — a rifle and a handgun — appeared to be phantom guns, or non-production firearms that can be made yourself and do not require the owner to pass a background check.
Aldrich told the AP in one of his many prison interviews that they had taken “a very large amount of drugs” and abused steroids at the time of the attack. But they did not respond to hate crime allegations.
Candles, flowers, playing cards outside Club Q to remember 5 victims who took their own lives
Investigators at the scene of the Club Q nightclub, where Aldrich arrived with an AR-15 rifle
When asked if the attack was motivated by hatred, Aldrich said only that it was “not true at all.” Aldrich’s lawyers, who have not disputed Aldrich’s position in the pictures, have additionally rejected hate as an explanation.
Some survivors who listened to the taped phone calls saw Aldrich’s comments as an attempt to avoid the death penalty that also exists in the federal system.
Colorado repealed it in 2020, and first-degree murder is now punishable without jail time in the state.
They objected to Aldrich’s reluctance to discuss motives and passive, generic language along the lines of “I just can’t believe what happened” and “I wish I could turn back time.”