A 22-year-old accused of killing five people and injuring at least 18 others during a mass shooting at a LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs will stand trial on all counts, a judge ruled Thursday.
Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Michael McHenry ordered Anderson Lee Aldrich, who is facing more than 300 criminal charges, held without bond in the Nov. 19 attack on Club Q.
Aldrich is set to return to court to be arraigned May 30, at which time a trial is likely to be scheduled if Aldrich pleads not guilty as expected.
Aldrich, wearing an orange jail jumpsuit and a black face mask, sat in court next to their attorneys. All seven benches in the courtroom were filled with relatives of those killed in the attack, people inside the club during the attack and news reporters.
The rulings came at the conclusion of the second and final day of Aldrich’s preliminary hearing, after Fourth Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen argued that evidence presented in court supported Aldrich’s “aversion to the LGBTQ community.”
Testimony from detectives revealed that Aldrich went to Club Q, a known safe haven for the LGBTQ community in Colorado Springs, intent on “indiscriminately killing and wounding many others and scaring the daylights out of everyone else in that club,” Allen said.
Aldrich had “a particular disdain” for the LGBTQ community, citing his choice to target Club Q despite the numerous bars in the area, Allen argued.
Defense attorney Joseph Archambault called the attack “senseless, awful and tragic,” but said prosecutors failed to establish that there was intent to target the LGBTQ community.
He countered that going to a LGBTQ club doesn’t support charges for a hate crime and pointed to a prior occasion where Aldrich went to the club with their mother in August 2021.
“This occurred at a place … where the LGBTQ+ community is welcome, where they go and congregate. But going inside where people go does not meet the definition of intent,” Archambault said. Investigators testified they were told by a friend of Aldrich that Laura Voepel, Aldrich’s mother, forced them to go to LGTBQ clubs.
Archambault also said Aldrich showed remorse after the attack, and pointed out the defendant is nonbinary, using “they” and “them” as pronouns.
Testimony presented in court Wednesday revealed that in the minutes after the shooting, Aldrich told a patron, “My mom will not accept me because I am gay — you’re all the same.” While at the jail, Aldrich cried, “I really f—– up. I killed all those f—– people,” a detective said in court.
“It doesn’t excuse it, but it is categorically different from people who target a group and are unapologetic about what they did and hope others follow in their footsteps,” Archambault said.
Archambault asked the judge to consider Aldrich’s mental state and drug use on the night of the attack. Several photos were presented in court showing prescriptions for Aldrich for drugs typically used to treat mood disorders, depression and anxiety. Aldrich also told hospital staff they used several illegal drugs on the night of the attack.
A court hearing is scheduled for March 31 to decide if video surveillance from inside and outside of the club on the night of the attack should be released to the public.
At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Allen said he believes prosecution has a strong case for the bias-motivated crimes, citing Colorado law that was amended two years ago that requires prosecutors to prove a defendant “acted either wholly or in part by their bias towards a particular group.”
“That change in the statute allowed us to charge a lot of these offenses in this particular case,” he said.
Aldrich’s nonbinary identity did not become public before they entered the court process, Allen said. He said Aldrich’s gender identity will not affect the way in which he prosecutes the case.
He declined to answer specific questions regarding Aldrich’s mental health status. If the claim is raised that Aldrich is not mentally competent to stand trial, they will be evaluated by a state psychologist.