Colorado LGBTQ+ nightclub shooting suspect held without bail

To be prosecuted for a hate crime, the court must prove the attacker was motivated by a bias against the victims’ perceived sexual orientations or gender identities.

Flowers outside the Colorado Springs LGBTQ+ nightclub, where a shoooting against patrons took place last week.
Image: Twitter - @mpetkash

Anderson Lee Aldrich, the suspect in a fatal shooting at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs, USA, has preliminary been charged with five counts of first-degree murder and is being held without bail. 

The LGBTQ+ community suffered a devastating loss on Saturday, November 19 when a gunman opened fire in Club Q, an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado. The space was considered by many a queer sanctuary in the conservative city south of Denver. Five people were killed and 11 others who were injured by gunshot wounds remain in the hospital.

Brave nightclub patrons reportedly disarmed the shooter by grabbing Aldrich by their body armour vest, apprehending the handgun, and pinning the gunman to the ground until police arrived. Aldrich appeared in court on Wednesday with visible injuries sustained from the incident. 

In addition to the murder charges, Aldrich is preliminary being charged with five counts of committing a bias-motivated crime. To be prosecuted for a hate crime, the court must prove that the attacker was motivated to cause harm because of a bias against the victims’ perceived sexual orientations or gender identities.

According to court documents, Aldrich is using they/them pronouns. Their defence attorneys submitted court filings that identify the suspect as “Mx Aldrich” who is nonbinary. A number of activists have raised concerns over the fact that Aldrich’s defence might use this in an attempt to avoid hate crime charges. 

In a recent interview, the suspect’s father, Aaron Brink, a martial arts fighter with an extensive criminal history, shared that when he first learned about the shooting his initial reaction was to wonder why Aldrich was in a gay bar, adding that he is a conservative Republican and “We don’t do gay.”

The shooting at the Colorado Springs LGBTQ+ nightclub is not Aldrich’s first criminal offence. They were arrested in 2021 after reportedly threatening their mother with a homemade bomb and other weapons. 

No explosives were discovered, but the event should have triggered the State’s red-flag gun laws, under which police can seize weapons from potentially dangerous persons. Even though such a gun seizure could have lasted only 14 days and thus wouldn’t have prevented the attack at Club Q, if the ‘red flag’ law had not been ignored, it could have at least raised Aldrich’s profile with authorities.

Colorado has experienced multiple mass shootings including Columbine high school shooting in 1999, and one that took place in a movie theatre in 2012. In response to this attack, the state’s politicians are calling for plans to strengthen the State’s existing gun laws to prevent further attacks.

On the same day of Aldrich’s court appearance, City officials raised a 25-foot Pride flag above the Colorado Springs City Hall as a sign of solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community.

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