A Year Before Club Q Shooting, Suspect's Bomb Threat Case Was Dropped

The AP delves into what happened with accused mass shooter's 2021 case
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 9, 2022 12:50 AM CST
A Year Before Club Q Shooting, Suspect's Bomb Threat Case Was Dropped
In this image taken from El Paso County District Court video, Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, center, sits during a court appearance in Colorado Springs, Colo., Tuesday, Dec. Nov. 6, 2022.   (El Paso County District Court via AP)

The Colorado Springs gay nightclub shooter had charges dropped in a 2021 bomb threat case after family members who were terrorized in the incident refused to cooperate, according to the district attorney and court documents unsealed Thursday. The charges were dropped despite authorities finding a “tub” full of bomb-making chemicals and later receiving warnings from other relatives that suspect Anderson Lee Aldrich was sure to hurt or murder a set of grandparents if freed, according to the unsealed documents cited by the AP. In a letter last November to state District Court Judge Robin Chittum, the relatives painted a picture of an isolated, violent person who did not have a job and, before his 2021 arrest, was given $30,000 by his grandmother that was spent largely on the purchase of 3D printers to make guns.

Aldrich tried to reclaim guns that were seized after the threat, but authorities did not return the weapons, El Paso County District Attorney Michael Allen said. Allen spoke hours after Chittum unsealed the case, which included allegations that Aldrich threatened to kill the grandparents and to become the “next mass killer” more than a year before the nightclub attack that killed five people. The suspect’s mother and the grandparents derailed that earlier case by evading prosecutors’ efforts to serve them with a subpoena, leading to a dismissal of the charges after defense attorneys said speedy trial rules were at risk, Allen said. Testifying at a hearing two months after the threat, the suspect's mother and grandmother described Aldrich in court as a “loving” and “sweet” young person who did not deserve to be jailed, the prosecutor said.

The former district attorney who was replaced by Allen told the AP he faced many cases in which people dodged subpoenas, but the inability to serve Aldrich’s family seemed extraordinary. “This is an extreme example of apparent manipulation that has resulted in something horrible," he says. The grandmother’s in-laws wrote to the court in November 2021 saying that Alrich was a continuing danger and should remain incarcerated. The letter also said police tried to hold Aldrich for 72 hours after a prior response to the home, but the grandmother intervened. They said Aldrich had punched holes in the walls of the grandparents’ Colorado home and broken windows and that the grandparents “had to sleep in their bedroom with the door locked” and a bat by the bed. During Aldrich's teenage years in San Antonio, the letter said, Aldrich attacked the grandfather and sent him to the emergency room with undisclosed injuries. The grandfather later lied to police out of fear of Aldrich, according to the letter. (See more at the AP.)

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