Judge to Club Q Shooter: 'You Will Never Get Out of Prison'

Anderson Aldrich pleads guilty to federal hate crime, gun charges in Colorado mass shooting
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 18, 2024 2:12 PM CDT
Club Q Shooter Gets 55 Life Sentences
A television cameraman works near a tribute to Club Q victims painted on the side of a downtown commercial building Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

The shooter who killed five people and injured 19 others at an LGBTQ+ club in Colorado Springs pleaded guilty to federal hate crime charges Tuesday and was sentenced to 55 life terms in prison. Anderson Lee Aldrich once again declined to apologize or say anything to the victims' families, the AP reports. Prosecutors nevertheless highlighted the importance of finally being forced to take responsibility for the hatred toward LGBTQ+ people that they say motivated the mass shooting. As part of the plea agreement, Aldrich repeatedly admitted on Tuesday to evidence of hatred.

  • "The admission that these were hate crimes is important to the government, and it's important to the community of Club Q," said prosecutor Alison Connaughty.

  • By targeting Club Q, Aldrich attacked a place that was much more than a bar, Connaughty added. "It's a special gathering place for anyone who needed community and anyone who needed that safe place," she said. "We met people who said 'this venue saved my life and I was able to feel normal again.'"
  • Aldrich, 24, is already serving life in prison after pleading guilty to state charges in the 2022 shooting last year. Federal prosecutors focused on proving that the attack at Club Q—a sanctuary for LGBTQ+ people in the mostly conservative city—was premeditated and fueled by bias.
  • US District Judge Charlotte Sweeney, the first openly gay federal judge in Colorado, heard heart-wrenching testimony from victims before accepting the agreement, which also includes a total of 190 years on gun charges and other counts. "You will never get out of prison," the judge said.

  • Defense attorney David Kraut said there was no singular explanation for why Aldrich carried out the shooting, but he mentioned childhood trauma, a sometimes abusive mother, online extremism, drug use and access to guns as factors that "combined to increase the risk that Anderson would engage in extreme violence."
  • Connaughty said investigators uncovered evidence of Aldrich's hate for the LGBTQ+ community that included two websites created by Aldrich to post hate-related content, a target found inside the defendant's house with a rainbow ring that had bullets in it, and the defendant's sharing of recordings of 911 calls from the 2016 killing of 49 people at the gay-friendly Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
  • Defense attorneys in the state case said Aldrich is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns. But that was rejected by some of the victims as well as the district attorney who prosecuted Aldrich in state court, who called it an effort to avoid hate crime charges.

(More Club Q shooting stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.