Club Q shooter receives 55 further life sentences for anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes

Anderson Lee Aldrich opened fire at the LGBTQ+ venue in November 2022, killing five people and injuring 19 others.

A photo of Club Q in Colorado Springs where an anti-LGBTQ+ hate crime took place in November 2022. The images shows the exterior of the venue, with the photos of victims hung up on posters on the walls. In front of the posters are piles of flowers on the ground.
Image: Club Q Colorado Springs via Facebook

Anderson Lee Aldrich has received 55 further concurrent life sentences consisting of 190 years after pleading guilty to federal hate crime charges relating to the shooting at Club Q on November 19, 2022. The 24-year-old is already serving five life terms in prison after opening fire at the LGBTQ+ venue in Colorado Springs, killing five people and injuring 19 others.

Aldrich, who identifies as non-binary, pleaded guilty to the additional 74 charges at a hearing on Tuesday, June 18. They admitted that they targeted Club Q in part “because of the actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity” of its patrons and employees, as per the sentencing statement.

“Fueled by hate, the defendant targeted members of the LGBTQIA+ community at a place that represented belonging, safety, and acceptance – stealing five people from their loved ones, injuring 19 others, and striking fear across the country,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said.

“The defendant’s mass shooting and heinous targeting of Club Q is one of the most devastating assaults on the LGBTQIA+ community in our nation’s history,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division added. “This sentence cannot reclaim the lives lost or undo the harms inflicted. But we hope that it provides the survivors, the victims’ families, and their communities a small measure of justice.

“Our message today should be loud and clear. No one should have to fear for their life or their safety because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.”

Prosecutor Alison Connaughty said: “The admission that these were hate crimes is important to the government, and it’s important to the community of Club Q.”

She continued: “It’s a special gathering place for anyone who needed community and anyone who needed that safe space. We met people who said: ‘This venue saved my life and I was able to feel normal again.’”

Having reportedly visited the bar six times before that night, Aldrich walked into Club Q in late 2022 with a loaded, privately manufactured assault weapon, and fired 60 rounds of ammunition until subdued by a patron, Richard Fiero. Raymond Green Vance, Kelly Loving, Daniel Aston, Derrick Rump and Ashley Paugh were killed, and almost 20 others injured.

Aldrich previously pleaded guilty to five counts of murder and 46 of attempted murder, receiving five life terms in prison in June 2023. This additional federal sentencing marks the end of the court proceedings in the case of the Club Q shooting, with the Colorado Springs venue yet to reopen since the deadly attack.

Ahead of the crime, Aldrich disseminated a manifesto online purportedly authored by someone who committed a mass shooting earlier that year. A week before the attack, they posted a photo depicting a rifle sight over a Pride parade, accompanied by the comment “lol”. Furthermore, in 2021, Aldrich threatened to bomb their mother’s house, leading to their neighbours being evacuated while crisis negotiators convinced them to surrender. 

Although Colorado has a version of a red flag law which should prevent people who are a danger to themselves or others from buying or possessing firearms, in the two years leading up to the attack, the shooter spent $9,000 on “weapons-related purchases”. 

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