Criminal charges alleging Anderson Aldrich threatened to become “the next mass killer” before a 2021 arrest were dismissed in July by an El Paso County judge because prosecutors were unable to serve subpoenas on the suspect’s grandparents, who were victims in the case.
Fourth Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen, whose office handled the 2021 charges, said Aldrich’s grandparents refused to cooperate with authorities, hindering prosecutors’ ability to bring the case to trial.
On Nov. 19, authorities say Aldrich walked into Club Q, an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, and opened fire with an AR-15-style rifle, killing five and injuring dozens more before being stopped by patrons. Aldrich on Wednesday was charged with 305 counts, including first-degree murder and hate crimes.
Aldrich’s lawyers say their client is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns.
Here is a timeline of how the 2021 case unfolded:
El Paso County sheriff’s deputies were called to a home on the 9800 block of Rubicon Drive, an unincorporated area just southeast of Colorado Springs, on June 18, 2021, by a woman who reported her child “was threatening to cause harm to her with a homemade bomb, multiple weapons and ammunition,” according to a news release.
Aldrich was arrested by SWAT officers after a standoff and booked into the El Paso County jail on suspicion of first-degree kidnapping and felony menacing.
Authorities seized two guns: a pistol with a Glock frame that lacked a serial number, and is therefore known as a “ghost gun,” and an AR-15-style rifle.
Additionally, bomb-making materials were also located and seized,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release.
Bond for Aldrich was set at $1 million.
Mandatory protection order issued
On June 22, 2021, Aldrich was advised of the charges in the case and a mandatory protection order was issued.
The order required Aldrich to stay away from and not talk to the victims in the case — their grandparents and mother — and banned Aldrich from possessing firearms or other weapons.
Prosecutors filed formal charges in the case on June 29, 2021.
Bond reduced, protection order changed
Aldrich appeared in court on Aug. 5, 2021, for what was supposed to be a preliminary hearing where their bond was reduced to $100,000. The protection order was also changed to allow Aldrich to speak with their mother and grandparents.
The suspect was still not allowed to possess guns or other weapons.
The preliminary hearing was postponed at the request of Aldrich’s attorneys.
“The defendant and victims addressed the court regarding modification of the bond,” Allen said Thursday. “The court also heard from his mother and his grandparents. His mother at that hearing describes him as loving and passionate. His grandmother described him as a sweet young man and that he did not deserve to be in jail. The grandfather describes him as unusually bright and someone who will take advantage of a second chance.”
During the hearing set to lower the suspect’s bond, Aldrich’s mother, Laura Voepel, described her child as a “loving and passionate young man” and Aldrich’s grandmother, Pamela Pullen, said Aldrich didn’t deserve to be in jail, Allen said. Aldrich’s grandfather, Jonathan Pullen, told the court Aldrich would “take advantage of a second chance.”
Aldrich released on bond
Aldrich posted bond Aug. 7, 2021, and was released from the El Paso County jail.
Aldrich’s attorneys waived their right to a preliminary hearing in the case, in which a judge determines whether there is enough evidence to proceed to trial, on Aug. 26, 2021.
Delays in the prosecution
The court case against Aldrich in the 2021 arrest was delayed several times in the second half of 2021 and the first half of 2022.
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Aldrich’s arraignment, during which they were expected to plead guilty or not guilty, was postponed by the suspect’s defense attorneys on Oct. 21, 2021, and Dec. 16, 2021.
In November 2021, Aldrich’s great uncle, the brother of Aldrich’s grandfather, submitted a letter to the court claiming Aldrich had terrorized his grandparents for years. The letter claimed Aldrich had attacked his grandfather in the past and was using 3-D printers to make guns.
“We feel certain that if Anderson is freed that he will hurt or murder my brother and his wife,” wrote Robert Pullen.
On Jan. 27, the arraignment was held and Aldrich pleaded not guilty, starting a six-month timeline under which a trial had to be held. A pretrial conference was scheduled for May 19 and a jury trial set for May 31.
“At the pretrial conference on May 19, the defense announced ready for trial,” Allen said. “(Prosecutors), however, announced not ready for trial.”
Allen said prosecutors were unable to serve subpoenas on Aldrich’s grandparents, who had moved to Florida.
The pretrial conference was postponed until June 23. At that hearing, prosecutors said they were still struggling to serve subpoenas.
Aldrich’s grandmother, Pamela Pullen, went so far as to try to quash a subpoena through a motion submitted by her attorney on June 30, court records show.
When the trial date came on July 5, prosecutors said they still hadn’t served the subpoenas.
“The defense objected to our request for a continuance and noted that (the six-month) speedy trial (deadline expired) in roughly three weeks,” Allen said.
Aldrich’s attorneys moved for the case to be dismissed, a request that was granted by the judge.
The mandatory protection order was lifted, meaning that Aldrich could possess guns again.
On Aug. 4, prosecutors asked the sheriff’s office to keep evidence in the case until the statute of limitations for the charges in the case expired.
On Aug. 11, the case was sealed at Aldrich’s request.
Aldrich tries to get guns back
The sheriff’s office says Aldrich, on Aug. 12, “called our evidence facility to seek the release of all items,” including their guns.
“This request was denied,” the sheriff’s office said. The office didn’t elaborate on why it declined the request, but the reason may have been prosecutors’ request to keep evidence in the case.
The firearms seized as part of the 2021 arrest remain with the sheriff’s office.
Club Q shooting
An arrest affidavit says Aldrich left home on Nov. 19, telling their mother they were going to run an errand. Aldrich never returned.
Just before midnight, police say, Aldrich drove an SUV to Club Q, got out of the vehicle wearing a tactical vest and armed with a rifle and walked into the club. The suspect immediately opened fire.