Gay club mass shooter is sent to prison for life after pleading guilty to five counts of murder and 46 counts of attempted murder for killing spree at LGBTQ+ nightclub
Anderson Lee Aldrich, 23, pled guilty in the November 19, 2022 mass shooting
Five people were killed and 17 injured at the LGBTQ+ Club Q in Colorado Springs
Fatalities in the shooting were identified as Kelly Loving, 40, Daniel Aston, 28, Derrick Rump, 38, Ashley Paugh, 34, and Raymond 22-year-old Green Vance
The plea spares the victims’ families the agonies of a trial and the defendant avoids the death penalty
Aldrich will serve five consecutive life sentences, plus 48 years on each attempted murder, totaling an additional 2,208 years
Feds might still pursue other charges that could attract death penalty
Anderson Lee Aldrich pled guilty during his arraignment in El Paso County District Court on Monday in the November 19, 2020, attack at Club Q
The Colorado gunman who killed five people in a mass shooting at an LGBTQ+ nightclub last year November, was sentenced to life in prison on Monday after victims called the defendant a ‘monster’ who hunted down patrons in a calculated attack.
The killer Anderson Lee Aldrich, now 23, pled guilty to five counts of murder and 46 counts of attempted murder – one for each person inside Club Q on the night of the shooting. Aldrich also pled no contest to two hate crimes, one a felony and the other a misdemeanor.
People in the courtroom wiped away tears as the judge explained the charges and read out the names of the victims.
‘You are targeting a group of people for their simple existence,’ Judge Michael McHenry told Aldrich.
The guilty plea comes just seven months after the shooting and spares victims’ families and survivors a long and potentially painful trial.
Aldrich will serve five consecutive life sentences, plus 48 years on each attempted murder, totaling an additional 2,208 years.
Those killed in the shooting were identified as Kelly Loving, 40; Daniel Aston, 28; Derrick Rump, 38; Ashley Paugh, 34; and Raymond Green Vance, 22
‘Like too many other people in our culture, you chose to find a power that day behind the trigger of a gun, your actions reflect the deepest malice of the human heart, and malice is almost always born of ignorance and fear,’ the judge continued.
Relatives and friends of victims were able to give statements in court to remember their loved ones and survivors spoke about how their lives were forever altered just before midnight when the gunman walked into Club Q and indiscriminately fired an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle.
Those killed in the shooting were identified as Kelly Loving, 40, Daniel Aston, 28, Derrick Rump, 38, Ashley Paugh, 34, and Raymond Green Vance, 22. Family and close ones delivered moving victim impact statements before sentencing. All the speaker except one declined from forgiving the killer who was described as inhuman and ‘a monster’ who ‘The devil awaits with open arms,’ by one bereaved mother.
Club Q, an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado – where the shooting happened
Only one victim’s family chose to forgive the killer who took his partner’s life.
The defendant whose body shook slightly as the victims and family members spoke, looked down and glanced occasionally at a screen showing photos of the victims.
‘I intentionally and after deliberation caused the death of each victim,’ Aldrich had told the court after pleading guilty to the charges on Monday.
Aldrich, then 22, was formally charged last December 6 and charged with and charged with 323 criminal counts, but did not enter a plea at the time
On November 19, 2022, Aldrich, wearing body armor, opened fire at Club Q, an LGBTQ nightclub. Apart from those killed, nearly two dozen others were wounded by gunfire or otherwise injured before being stopped by ‘heroic’ patrons.
He was formally charged last December 6 and charged with 323 criminal counts, including murder and hate crimes, but did not enter a plea at the time.
The most severe charges carry a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
However, Aldrich could face a death sentence in federal court if prosecutors decide to bring charges under the U.S. code, which still has capital punishment on its books for certain crimes.
Monday’s hearing follows a series of jailhouse phone calls from Aldrich to The Associated Press expressing remorse and the intention to face the consequences at this court hearing.
Before Aldrich carried out the deadly shooting, the suspect was arrested by SWAT after he threatened to kill his grandparents in 2021 for standing in the way of a plan to become ‘the next mass killer’
Aldrich [L-R],, showed up at the house where their mother was renting a room, after threatening to blow up their grandparents’ basement
Several survivors told the AP about the plea agreement after being approached about Aldrich’s comments to the publisher.
They said prosecutors had notified them that Aldrich, who is nonbinary and uses they and them pronouns, would plead guilty to charges that would ensure a sentence of life behind bars.
The attack at Club Q came over a year after Aldrich had been arrested for threatening their grandparents and vowing to become ‘the next mass killer.’ But, charges were ultimately dropped in that case.
Aldrich was then arrested after a standoff with SWAT officers that was livestreamed on Facebook and the evacuation of 10 nearby homes, telling officers ‘If they breach, I’m a f—-ing blow it to holy hell!’ Aldrich eventually surrendered.
The charges against Aldrich were thrown out in July 2022 after Aldrich´s mother and grandparents, the victims in the case, refused to cooperate with prosecutors, evading efforts to serve them with subpoenas to testify, just as other relatives told a judge they feared Aldrich would hurt their grandparents if released. They profiled Aldrich as an isolated, violent person, who although without a job, was handed $30,000 that was spent largely on the purchase of 3D printers to make guns, the records showed.
Club Q victim Derrick Rump, 38, was ‘active in the local LGBTQ community’ and beloved by friends, family, transwoman Kelly Loving, 40, [center], and Raymond Green Vance, 22, [right], were all tragically killed during the 2016 club massacre
Ashley Paugh, 35, [left], a married mother was one of five victims and Daniel Aston, 28, [right], was one of the innocent victims killed by Aldrich in his gay club gun rampage
Aldrich was released from jail then and authorities seized the ghost gun pistol and MM15 rifle, from his arrest, but with nothing stopping him from legally purchasing more firearms.
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said it would not have been able to seek a court order stopping Aldrich from buying or possessing guns because the 2021 arrest record was sealed after the charges were dropped.
There was no new evidence that they could use to prove that Aldrich posed a threat ‘in the near future,’ the sheriff´s office said.
Investigators later revealed that the two guns Aldrich had during the Club Q attack appeared to be ghost guns, or firearms without serial numbers that are homemade and do not require an owner to pass a background check.
Candles, flowers, cards sit outside Club Q in memory of the five victims that lost their lives
Investigators at the scene of the Club Q nightclub, where Aldrich arrived with an AR-15 rifle
Aldrich told AP in one of the interviews from jail he was on a ‘very large plethora of drugs’ and abusing steroids at the time of the attack.
He did not respond directly to the hate crimes charges. Asked whether the attack was motivated by hate, Aldrich responded that it was ‘completely off base,’ same as his attorneys, who have also pushed back on hate as the motive for the killings.
Some survivors see Aldrich’s responses in the recorded phone calls with AP as an attempt to avoid the death penalty which still exists in the federal system.