Anderson Lee Aldrich, the suspect in the November 19 mass shooting at Club Q, a longtime Colorado Springs sanctuary for the LGBTQ+ community, received a life sentence after pleading guilty on Monday.
His plea spares the victims’ loved ones from having to endure a painful trial.
Police said Aldrich opened fire with an AR-15-style assault rifle just before midnight that Saturday in November, killing five people and injuring at least 25 others. Aldrich was arrested after a standoff with SWAT officers that was livestreamed on Facebook. Ten nearby homes had been evacuated after Aldrich, who reportedly had a homemade bomb, told officers “If they breach, I’m a f—-ing blow it to holy hell!” Aldrich eventually surrendered.
In the days afterward, President Biden made his oft-repeated plea for Congress to reinstate the expired assault weapons ban. Biden was a Senator when Congress passed the initial assault weapons ban in 1994, which it let expire ten years later. He had expressed hope that the 117th Democratic-majority Congress would do so during the December 2022 lame duck session, but it did not happen.
Victims’ family members and survivors are expected to speak at Aldrich’s hearing on Monday about how their lives have been forever altered.
Aldrich is nonbinary and uses the pronouns they and them. They had been arrested more than a year before the Club Q shooting for threatening their grandparents and vowing to become the “next mass killer.” In June 2021, Aldrich’s grandparents told authorities that Aldrich had warned them not to interfere in plans to stockpile guns, ammo, body armor and that homemade bomb.
However, charges in that case were dropped in July 2022 after Aldrich’s mother and grandparents refused to cooperate with prosecutors.
Other family members told a judge they feared Aldrich would hurt the grandparents if released.
Aldrich was released from jail at the time, though authorities kept a ghost gun pistol and an MM15 rifle seized in their arrest. However, there was nothing to stop Aldrich from legally purchasing more firearms ahead of the Club Q massacre.
Army veteran Richard Fierro, who was at Club Q celebrating a birthday, was one of two people who subdued the shooter. On Monday he called Aldrich a “terrorist” who has “shown no remorse for human life. His decision to murder and maim that night is one that is unforgivable.”