The city of Colorado Springs was shaken by the mass shooting at the LGBTQ+ nightclub Club Q that killed five people and injured around 20 others on November 19. Anderson Lee Aldrich, the alleged gunman, has been charged with more than 320 counts related to the shooting, including murder, attempted murder, and hate crimes charges. During a preliminary hearing that began on Wednesday, police officers and detectives testified about new information that emerged surrounding the shooting, including Aldrich’s history with neo-Nazism and white supremacy.
According to the testimony given by police officers, when they first arrived at the scene of the shooting, Aldrich initially blamed the patrons of the club for the shooting. They claimed that the people inside the club were attempting to pin them down. However, this defense did not hold up under further questioning.
During the hearing, Detective Rebecca Joines testified that Aldrich had a history of using homophobic and racist slurs while playing video games online. Prosecutors also presented an image of a rifle scope centered over one of the individuals in what appears to be a gay pride parade. This evidence, along with the fact that Aldrich had previously visited Club Q, suggests that the attack was premeditated and motivated by hate.
Detectives also provided graphic details about the shooting, including how people were injured and killed. One woman was shot in the face while trying to flee with her daughter, while others played dead to avoid being targeted. The photos presented during the hearing showed shell casings scattered around the venue, and part of a tooth was found just outside the club’s exit.
Police officers also testified about the heroic efforts of patrons, including Richard Fierro and Thomas James. James grabbed the barrel of the rifle used in the attack and continued to try to fight the suspect even after being shot. Fierro pinned Aldrich to the ground until police arrived.
During the afternoon session, the judge pointed to comments made on the hearing’s live-streaming platform by a user with a similar name to Aldrich’s mother. The comments were brought to the attention of the defense and prosecutors for further investigation.
The hearing will determine whether the mass shooting at Club Q should be prosecuted as a hate crime. Parts of an AR-15 style gun were found at Aldrich’s apartment, along with a rainbow target and a sketch of Club Q. Detectives testified that Aldrich ran a neo-Nazi website and had a history with white supremacy, further indicating that the attack was motivated by hate.
The shooting at Club Q is a stark reminder of the continued violence and discrimination faced by the LGBTQ+ community. The hearing will continue until Friday, as prosecutors and defense attorneys seek to present all the evidence and determine the appropriate charges for Aldrich.