The man accused of killing five people and injuring more than a dozen at a gay bar in the US state of Colorado faces murder and hate crime charges, multiple news outlets reported, citing court records.
Online court records showed Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, faced five counts of murder and five counts of committing a hate crime causing bodily injury in connection with the attack at Club Q in Colorado Springs, The Associated reported. Press on Monday.
The charges were preliminary and had not been brought before the court by prosecutors, the news agency said.
the Denver Mail He also reported that records showed Aldrich was arrested on suspicion of murder and hate crimes, but the official charges may eventually change.
Aldrich, who was overpowered by patrons after opening fire at the club Saturday night, is currently hospitalized awaiting formal charges, Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said.
The police department said Monday afternoon that five people were killed in the attack, which has shocked the entire United States. Seventeen others suffered gunshot wounds, while another person was injured but not by gunfire, police said.
• 5 community members deceased.
• 17 community members injured by gunshot wounds.
• 1 community member who was injured, but not by gunshot wound.
• 1 community member who was a victim without visible injuries.
— Colorado Springs Police Department (@CSPDPIO) November 21, 2022
District Attorney Michael Allen said earlier in the day that he expected first-degree murder charges to be filed and “if the evidence supports hate crimes, we will charge them as well.”
“Obviously there is some evidence,” Allen told CNN. “The location is evidence.
“The fact that these victims were in a specific location that is predominantly frequented by members of the LGBTQ community, that is evidence that we can use,” he said.
Hate crime charges would require proof that the attacker was motivated by bias, such as the actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of the victims.
A law enforcement official, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the suspect used an AR-15-style semi-automatic weapon, but a handgun and additional ammunition magazines were also recovered.
The shooting, which Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said “had every appearance of being a hate crime,” recalled the 2016 Pulse club massacre when a gunman killed 49 people at the gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, before he was fatally shot by police. .
Colorado has experienced several mass murders, including at Columbine High School in 1999, a suburban Denver movie theater in 2012 and a Boulder supermarket last year.
Saturday’s attack also came as the US has seen increased calls for stricter gun regulations after an attack at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, in May that left 21 children and teachers dead.
Questions have already been raised about why authorities did not try to take Aldrich’s weapons when he was arrested in 2021 after his mother reported that he threatened her with a pipe bomb and other weapons.
Although authorities at the time said no explosives were found, gun control advocates question why police didn’t try to trigger Colorado’s “red flag” law, which would have allowed authorities to seize the guns her mother says that I had
There are also no public records that prosecutors have filed felony kidnapping and threatening charges against Aldrich.
Suthers, the mayor of Colorado Springs, said on NBC’s “Today” show that the district attorney would file motions with the court Monday to allow law enforcement to speak more about any criminal record “that this individual may have had.” .
Of the 25 injured at Club Q, at least seven are in critical condition, authorities said. Some were injured trying to flee and it was not clear if all were shot, a police spokesman said. Suthers told the AP there was “reason to hope” that all those hospitalized would recover.
Meanwhile, detectives were looking to see if anyone had helped the suspect before the attack, said Vasquez, the police chief. He said customers who intervened during the attack were “heroic” and prevented more deaths.
On its Facebook page, Club Q also thanked the “quick reactions of heroic patrons who subdued the gunman and ended this hateful attack.”
Club Q is a gay and lesbian nightclub that hosts a drag show on Saturdays, according to its website. The nightclub’s Facebook page said planned entertainment included a “punk and alternative show” before a birthday dance party, with an all-ages Sunday brunch.
Drag events have recently become a focus of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and protests, as opponents, including politicians, have proposed banning children from them.
President Joe Biden said that while the motive for the shooting was not yet clear, “we know that the LGBTQI+ community has been subjected to terrible hate violence in recent years.”
“Places that are supposed to be safe spaces of acceptance and celebration must never become places of terror and violence,” he said. “We cannot and must not tolerate hate.”
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, who became the first openly gay man to be elected US governor in 2018, called the shooting “disgusting.”
Heartbroken by the violent attack on an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families.
We must do more to end our nation’s horrible gun violence epidemic and STOP violence toward the LGBTQ+ community. We will not tolerate hate.
— Representative Ted Lieu (@RepTedLieu) November 21, 2022
“My heart breaks for the family and friends of the lost, injured and traumatized,” Polis said.
Lawmakers and activists across the country also called for an end to gun violence and hateful rhetoric against the community.
“Hate fueled rhetoric and bigotry that endangers the lives and safety of our LGBTQ+ community must end,” Congresswoman Cori Bush wrote on Twitter.
A makeshift memorial sprang up near the club on Sunday, complete with flowers, a stuffed animal, candles and a sign reading “Love over Hate” next to a rainbow-colored heart.
Ryan Johnson, who lives near the club and was there last month, said it was one of only two LGBTQ-friendly nightspots in Colorado Springs. “It’s kind of going to Pride,” said the 26-year-old.