Court Hears New Details of How Club Patrons Stopped Mass Shooting

Detective says suspect posted to neo-Nazi website
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 22, 2023 6:20 PM CST
Police Say Club Q Shooter Posted to Neo-Nazi Website
Tributes to the victims of a mass shooting cover the exterior walls of Club Q Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023, in Colorado Springs, Colo.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The 22-year-old accused of carrying out the deadly mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs in November posted to a neo-Nazi website and used gay and racial slurs while gaming online, a police detective testified Wednesday. Among the things Anderson Lee Aldrich posted was an image of a rifle scope trained on a gay pride parade and a shooting training video. Aldrich, who identifies as nonbinary and uses the pronouns they and them, also used a bigoted slur when referring to someone who was gay, Detective Rebecca Joines testified at the start of a three-day hearing to determine if there’s enough evidence to warrant a hate crime charge against Aldrich in the Nov. 19 attack, which killed five people and injured 17 others.

Another witness told investigators that Aldrich said their mother, Laura Voepel, is nonbinary and forced them to go to LGBTQ clubs, Joines said. Unlike the other charges Aldrich faces, including murder and attempted murder, hate crime charges require prosecutors to present evidence of a motive—that Aldrich was driven by bias, either wholly or in part, the AP reports. Although Aldrich identifies as nonbinary, someone who is a member of a protected group such as the LGBTQ community can still be charged with a hate crime for targeting peers. Joines acknowledged during cross-examination that the shooting training video was not made by Aldrich.

She said that while identification scanning technology showed Aldrich had been to the club at least six times before the shooting, there were no fights or disturbances during those visits. On the night of the shooting, according to authorities, Aldrich went to the club, left and then returned. Surveillance video showed Aldrich entering the club wearing a red T-shirt and tan ballistic vest while holding an AR-style rifle, with six magazines for the weapon and a pistol visible, police Detective Jason Gasper said. Soon after entering, Aldrich allegedly opened fire indiscriminately. The shooting was stopped when Navy Petty Officer Second Class Thomas James grabbed the barrel of Aldrich’s rifle, burning his hand it was so hot, Detective Ashton Gardner said in the most detailed account provided yet.

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As panicked patrons fled from the dance floor at Club Q, James tumbled off a landing with Aldrich and struggled with Aldrich over a handgun. Aldrich fired at least once, shooting James in the ribs, Gardner said. After being shot, it is clear from the video that James was tiring, “but he continues to do what he can to subdue the suspect until police arrive,” Gardner testified, noting that James later gave up his spot in an ambulance to someone else who was injured. As the two grappled, Army veteran Richard Fierro rushed over to help, grabbing the rifle and throwing it, Gardner said. Fierro then used the handgun to beat Aldrich, telling officers later that he “kept hitting” the suspect until they arrived.

(More Club Q shooting stories.)

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