The 3-day evidentiary hearing against the suspect in the Club Q mass shooting that happened last November started yesterday, February 22. The 22-year-old suspect, Anderson Lee Aldrich, is currently facing a total of 323 charges after opening fire against people at the club, killing 5 people and injuring 22 others.
According to the police detective who testified in court, Aldrich had a Neo-Nazi website and used racist and anti-LGBTQ+ slurs while playing online games. Besides that, photographs shown in court revealed a gun target surrounded by rainbow stripes which had been found inside their apartment. This was alongside gun-making materials, weapons receipts and a drawing of the club.
Although Aldrich allegedly identifies as non-binary, this does not prevent the authorities from prosecuting them on hate crime charges. In contrast to other charges, hate crimes require a court to determine if there is sufficient evidence, including a motive.
As well as the evidence in the suspect’s apartment, police also found a baseball hat with a phone taped to it in Aldrich’s car, which may suggest that they were planning to live stream the attack.
According to The Guardian, the defence also talked about Aldrich’s mental health. They claimed he was under the influence of drugs to treat mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and PTSD. However, they “did not say if Aldrich had been formally diagnosed with any of those mental illnesses.”
The Club Q mass shooting was not the first criminal offence of the suspect. Aldrich was previously arrested in 2021 after reportedly threatening their family and stating they wanted to become “the next mass killer.”
“There is no reason why (they) should have had access to an assault rifle… especially for someone who has been quoted saying ‘I’m going to be the next mass shooter,” said Jerecho Loveall, one of the people injured during the shooting.
If Colorado’s ‘red flag’ gun laws had been implemented correctly, the suspect would have lost access to those weapons.
A decision on whether the charges should be classed as hate crimes will be made at the end of the evidentiary hearing by Fourth Judicial District Judge Michael McHenry. Currently, Aldrich is in custody and has not yet been asked to enter a plea.
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