The grief over the slaying of five people at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub has raised questions about whether the weekend massacre could have been prevented.
At least 19 more people were injured Saturday night at Club Q, a longtime safe haven for the LGBTQ community and now another crime scene in a country that has averaged two mass shootings a day this year.
Authorities have revealed more about the suspect, 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, who has been preliminarily charged with five counts of first-degree murder and five counts of bias crime — otherwise known as a hate crime — causing bodily injury.
Authorities have not formally charged Aldrich, who was hospitalized after he was subdued at the club by two “heroic” people who, thanks to police, prevented a greater tragedy.
The suspect was moved to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office at the jail, Colorado Springs police said Tuesday. Aldrich was also listed on the county jail’s online roster.
When asked by CNN on Tuesday if the suspect was cooperating with authorities, Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez told CNN, “We have not received any information from him.”
It is not yet clear if Aldrich has an attorney. His first court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday in Colorado Springs.
According to the researchers:
- The suspect brought an AR-type weapon and a handgun to Club Q on Saturday night, but mostly used an assault rifle to carry out the killings, Vasquez said.
- While Colorado has a red flag law that seeks to temporarily deny access to guns to those deemed a danger to themselves or others, it may not have applied to Aldrich if his 2021 election. the case would never have been tried or if no one had ever intervened.
The United States had an assault weapons ban that was implemented in 1994 and expired in 2004.
The ban, while not perfect, “had the effect of limiting the number of high-capacity semiautomatic weapons in circulation,” said CNN law enforcement analyst Andrew McCabe.
“There has been a significant reduction in mass shootings and deaths during that time,” said McCabe, the former deputy director of the FBI. “It’s not even arguable.”
It is unclear why the charges against Aldrich were dropped after 2021. notification of a bomb threat.
Video obtained by CNN showed Aldrich apparently ranting about the police and yelling at them to break into his mother’s home, where he was being held.
“I’ve got freckles outside, look, I’ve got a bead on me,” Aldrich says in the video, pointing the camera at a window with blinds. “Do you see that right there? The malevolent riflemen threw away their rifles.
Later in the video, Aldrich says, “If they break it, I’m going to blow it to holy hell.”
He ends the video with what appears to be a message to law enforcement out there: “So go guys! Let’s see!
The video doesn’t actually show any officers outside the home, and it’s unclear from the video whether Aldrich had any weapons in the home.
Hours after the initial call to police, the local sheriff’s department’s crisis negotiation unit was able to get Aldrich to leave the home. Authorities did not find any explosives in the home, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said.
Alrich was arrested and booked into the El Paso County Jail on two counts of criminal endangerment and three counts of first-degree kidnapping, according to a 2021 report. in a news release from the sheriff’s office.
It was not immediately clear how the bomb threat case was resolved, but the Colorado Springs Gazette reported that the district attorney’s office said no formal charges had been filed in the case. The district attorney’s office did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
Aldrich purchased two guns that were brought to Club Q on Saturday night, law enforcement sources told CNN this week. However, it is unclear whether the AR-style rifle and weapon were purchased before or after 2021.
Aldrich’s arrest related to the bomb threat would not have come up in background checks because the case was never filed, the charges were dropped and the records were sealed. It is unclear what prompted the sealing of the records.
In 2019, Colorado passed a controversial red flag law that allows family members, roommates or law enforcement to ask a judge to temporarily confiscate a person’s firearms if they are deemed dangerous.
Monday when asked why Red Flag Law wasn’t used in Aldrich’s case, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said it was “too early” to tell.
“I don’t have enough information to know exactly what the officers knew,” Weiser said.
One caveat to Colorado’s Red Flag Law is that it requires family members, police or others to proactively begin trying to temporarily take a gun away from someone who is at risk of harm.
“Colorado’s red flag law works when a family member, a partner or a police officer proactively provides the necessary documents and goes to a judge and makes an argument that someone shouldn’t have access to a gun,” McCabe said.
“There’s nothing that I’m aware of that warrants a red flag law-type investigation where someone is brought in” to law enforcement, he said.
“It’s not clear to me from this situation if (the suspect) was placed on a temporary restraining order or if there was any mental health evaluation.” Even if he was, it’s not clear whether that’s a red flag to consider when there’s a TRO or a mental health evaluation. It is completely voluntary.
Sen. John Hickenlooper, a former governor of Colorado, said he believes the red flag law is flawed.
“Obviously, the implementation was not perfect under the circumstances,” Hickenlooper said Tuesday. “Far less than perfect. In any case, it was a failure.”
Authorities identified the victims as Daniel Aston, Raymond Green Vance, Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh and Derrick Rump.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been at least 605 mass shootings in the U.S. this year, which, like CNN, counts incidents in which four or more people are killed or injured, not including the shooter.
Barrett Hudson survived the massacre, although he was shot seven times as he tried to escape the gunfire.
“Seven bullets missed my spine, missed my liver, missed my colon,” Hudson told CNN. “I’m really, really lucky.”
But Hudson and the other surviving victims are clouded by grief over the five lives lost.
Ashley Paugh is survived by her daughter, Ryleigh, who “was her whole world,” the Paugh family said in a statement.
“She meant everything to this family and we can’t even fathom what it will mean to not have her in our lives,” her family said.
Paugh worked for Kids Crossing, a nonprofit that helps foster children find homes, the family said. She also helped the LGBTQ community find accepting foster care.
Derrick Rump was the bartender at Club Q. The venue was where he “found a community of people that he really, really loved and felt like he could shine in it — and he did,” his sister, Julia Kissling, told CNN affiliate WFMZ.
Kelly Loving’s sister offered her condolences to other bereaved families as she grappled with her own grief.
“My condolences go out to all the families who have lost something in this tragic event and to everyone who is struggling to be accepted in this world,” Tiffany Loving said in a statement to CNN.
“My sister was a good person. She was loving, caring and sweet. Everyone loved her. Kelly was a wonderful person.
Raymond Green Vance, 22, just got a job at a FedEx distribution center in Colorado Springs and “was thrilled to get his first paycheck,” his family said in a statement.
“His family and friends are completely devastated by the sudden loss of a much-loved son, grandson, brother, nephew and cousin,” his family said.
The carnage could have been even more horrific if not for the bravery of two people in the club who fought off the attacker, police said.
Richard Fierro and Thomas James subdued the gunman before officers arrived just minutes after the shooting began, police said.
Fierro, a former Army major who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, said he took the gun from the gunman and used it.
The violence and injuries at the club on Saturday night resembled a war zone, the veteran said.
Fierro was at a nightclub celebrating his birthday with his wife and daughter. His daughter’s boyfriend, Vance, was also there but did not survive.
He became emotional talking about Vance and the others who were killed.
“I’m not a hero,” Fierro said. “I’m just a guy who wanted to protect his kids and his wife, and I still failed to protect her boyfriend.”