COLORADO SPRINGS — Detectives found parts to build AR-15 style guns, rainbow-colored shooting targets and a rough sketch of Club Q when searching Anderson Lee Aldrich’s home hours after the shooting at the Colorado Springs nightclub, where five people were killed and more than 18 injured.
Police testimony and evidence presented in court Wednesday focused on numerous signs of pre-planning before the Nov. 19 attack, detailing how Aldrich allegedly uploaded videos from Club Q’s parking lot minutes before the shooting to a live-streaming app, and revealing the alleged shooter made at least six prior visits to the club in the 15 months before the massacre.
Aldrich, 22, is facing 323 criminal charges in the mass shooting, including first-degree murder, attempted murder and bias-motivated crimes.
The courtroom in downtown Colorado Springs was packed with family and friends of those killed in the shooting, along with those who were inside the club when gunfire erupted. A woman held her head in her hands sitting in a pew as Aldrich walked entered. Family members cried softly as photos showing bodies inside the club were shown.
Aldrich sat quietly next to their attorney, shaking their leg.
Crime scene photos shown during the first day of Aldrich’s multiday preliminary hearing showed shell casings and magazines strewn across the dance floor and bullet holes in the walls. A pistol covered in blood was found on a table. A piece of a tooth and a gold hoop earring were found in the snow just outside of an exit.
Surveillance footage showed that Aldrich entered the club about 10:15 p.m. on the night of the shooting, stayed for a few minutes, and then left before returning around midnight wearing a ballistic vest and carrying an AR-15-style rifle.
Aldrich opened fire almost immediately after getting out of their car, which they left running outside the club.
Lead Detective Rebecca Joines, with the Colorado Springs Police Department, said Aldrich uploaded four videos to a live-streaming app on their phone before the shooting, including one uploaded from the parking lot 12 minutes before they entered the club. Detectives later found a phone duct-taped to the brim of a hat left inside Aldrich’s car.
Joines also testified that Aldrich was an administrator for a neo-Nazi website, had uploaded videos depicting other mass shootings on synagogues and mosques, and had sent a photo showing a rifle scope pointing to a gay pride parade.
Another administrator of the site said Aldrich used gay and racial slurs while gaming and told Joines that Laura Voepel, Aldrich’s mother, identified as nonbinary and said that Voepel forced Aldrich to go to gay clubs.
Colorado Springs Police Officer Connor Wallick, one of the first officers on the scene, said Aldrich was already subdued by patrons by the time he arrived at Club Q. The club was dark, with purple and blue lights still flashing from the dance floor. He heard people screaming and crying and smelled gunpowder.
The first person to confront the shooter, Thomas James, told police he searched for “the hardest thing he could find” before grabbing a metal bucket and confronting the shooter. James grabbed the barrel of Aldrich’s gun with his left hand, getting blisters from the heat as he tried to disarm the shooter.
Aldrich then pulled out a handgun and James was shot in his stomach as the two struggled until the police arrived. James gave his spot in an ambulance to another victim, a detective testified.
During the struggle, Aldrich told James, “My mom will not accept me because I’m gay — you’re all the same,” Joines testified.
Detectives shared more than a dozen accounts from people who were shot inside the club, including a woman who was shot in her face as she fled toward an exit grasping her daughter’s hand. As she turned to check on her daughter, behind her a bullet pierced her cheek and leg.
Prosecutors presented exhibits showing photos of Aldrich entering the club wearing a red T-shirt and a tan ballistic vest with a pistol strapped to its front. An AR-style rifle was in their right hand. Another photo showed Aldrich pointing the rifle toward the dance floor and the flash of a muzzle.
Detectives found high-capacity magazines inside the club, including one drum-style magazine that could hold 60 rounds and others that held up to 40 rounds.
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During one of Aldrich’s prior visits to Club Q, in August 2021, they were with their mother and smiled for a photo, which was shown in court. Prosecutors also showed a receipt showing that during another visit, Aldrich was served a drink by Derrick Rump, one of those killed during the Nov. 19 rampage.
The other people killed were Daniel Aston, Raymond Green Vance, Kelly Loving and Ashley Paugh.
Aldrich’s defense attorneys pointed out that Aldrich was never involved in any fights during the visits and that they did not yell any homophobic slurs during the attack.
Inside Aldrich’s apartment, investigators found camouflage gear and several pieces to build guns, Detective Jason Gasper testified. They also found a handwritten note that read: “Please relieve me of my own fate. I’m drowning in my own wake. How long must I wait for you to rid me of this hate?”
Gasper said he also found “concerning writings” inside the apartment but did not find any notes or manifestos suggesting violence against the LGBTQ community. He said he was not aware of Anderson making slurs about LGBTQ community inside the club or in the hospital.
The defense focused on Aldrich’s mental health, showing photos of medications prescribed to Aldrich, including drugs commonly used to treat bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD and anxiety.
Aldrich told hospital staff that they had taken fentanyl, meth, cocaine and Xanax before the attack and had been coming off of heroin in recent months, according to testimony.
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The suspect also told Joines that they are nonbinary, Joines testified.
At the jail, Aldrich said “I really f—– up. I killed all those f—— people,” Joines said.
At the end of the hearing, which is expected to continue through Friday, 4th Judicial District Court Judge Michael McHenry will determine whether there is enough evidence to support the charges against Aldrich.
McHenry has denied multiple requests by Aldrich’s attorneys to delay the preliminary hearing, who said they were not ready to proceed with the case due to the large amount of evidence and scheduling conflicts.
The hearing will resume Thursday at 9 a.m.