Ruling Brings 'Sense of Relief' for Club Q Victim

Hate crime charges against suspect Anderson Lee Aldrich will stand
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 24, 2023 8:58 AM CST
Club Q Suspect Will Be Tried for Hate Crimes
In this file 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 suspect in the deadly shooting at a LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado in November, currently facing 323 charges including first-degree murder and crimes motivated by bias, will see those charges stick. Following a three-day hearing, Judge Michael McHenry ruled Thursday that there is enough evidence to try Anderson Lee Aldrich, accused of killing five people and injuring 17 others, on hate crime charges, per the New York Times. Prosecutors said Aldrich spoke to friends of their abhorrence for the LGBTQ community, though they are a member of that community who identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns.

After a change in Colorado law, prosecutors need only show Aldrich was at least partly driven by bias, and they pointed to the fact that the suspect targeted the only LGBTQ nightclub "out of more than 50 bars in a 2.5 mile radius," per the Times. The suspect also allegedly ran a website that hosted "neo Nazi white supremacist" content, per ABC News. "There's no getting around that to me," Ashtin Gamblin, a victim who was shot nine times, tells the Times, adding she felt a "sense of relief" knowing the hate crime charges would remain as "this monster needs to be put away."

Defense lawyers said their client was not motivated by hate, pointing to the absence of a manifesto. Lawyer Joseph Archambault added Aldrich expressed remorse, which "is categorically different from people who target a group." The defense instead cast Aldrich as a victim of abuse, per ABC. They also suggested mental health issues, noting the suspect takes medications for schizophrenia, PTSD, bipolar disorder, and anxiety. They were granted three months to perform psychological evaluations, with arraignment set for May 30. If the defense eyes an insanity plea, it would need to be entered at that time, McHenry said. (More Club Q shooting stories.)

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