Charges filed in Colorado gay club shooting

COLORADO SPRINGS, (NewsNation) – Officials have charged a 22-year-old man with five counts each of murder and five counts of committing a prejudice-motivated felony in connection with Sunday’s deadly shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, court documents show.

Authorities had been looking for a possible motive after the suspect, whom police identified as Anderson Lee Aldrich, killed at least five people and injured 25 people.

A person of the same age and name was charged Monday in the El Paso County Court on multiple counts of Class 1 and Class 5 felonies.

Officials said they believe the gunman opened fire with an AR-15-style semi-automatic weapon at Club Q sometime just before midnight on Sunday. Police said he also had a handgun and extra ammo magazines with him.

According to a Colorado Springs Police Department press release, the injuries and fatalities include:

  • 5 deceased community members: Kelly Loving, Daniel Aston, Derrick Rump, Ashley Paugh and Raymond Green Vance.
  • 17 parishioners injured from a gunshot wound
  • 1 parishioner who was injured but not from a gunshot wound
  • 1 parishioner who was a victim with no visible injuries

“We know there were many more community members present at Club Q during the shooting who could be victims with no visible injuries,” police said in an official statement Monday. “An example is a parishioner who ran away during the shooting. We are asking anyone in the community who may have been a victim, or who has information about a potential victim, or who may have seen anything, has information about this incident to call the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at 1-800-CALL- to turn. FBI (or 1-800-225-5324).”

Investigators were still determining a motive Monday morning and whether it should be prosecuted as a hate crime, El Paso County District Attorney Michael Allen said on NewsNation’s airwaves Monday morning.

“We may also look at hate crimes if there are any bias-motivated aspects of it. There’s obviously some evidence of that based on where this happened,” Allen said. “We will look closely at that and any statements he may have made before he came here to commit this horrific act.”

Allen told NewsNation that Aldrich was scheduled to be released from the hospital on Monday and he could appear in court on Monday or Tuesday.

Aldrich remained hospitalized Monday afternoon. A photo of him was therefore not available, the Colorado Springs police said.

These updates, which NewsNation originally anticipated during an early afternoon press conference, were announced in an emailed press release.

One victim killed in the shooting, Daniel Aston, a 28-year-old transgender man and self-proclaimed “Master of Silly Business,” was remembered by his mother in an interview with NewsNation affiliate KDVR on Sunday night. . Aston had performed at Club Q and acted as a bartender, a place his mother said allowed Aston to be himself.

The attack ended when a patron took a pistol from the suspect and hit him with it, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers told The Associated Press. Mayor Suthers identified two heroes who intervened in the shooting as Thomas James and Richard Fierro at a news conference Monday. The person who hit the gunman had him pinned down when police arrived, Suthers said.

Mayor Suthers said he spoke to Fierro earlier Monday.

“I have never met a person who has taken part in such heroic acts and been so humble about it,” Mayor Suthers said. “He just said to me, ‘I was trying to protect my family.'”

Witnesses described two harrowing minutes during which Aldrich allegedly worked his way through the club and fired his rifle into the crowd while guests ducked for cover or ran for the door.

Of the 25 injured, at least seven were in critical condition, authorities said. Some were injured trying to escape, and it’s unclear if all the victims were shot, a police spokesman said. Among them was the DJ performing that night and an 80-year-old man who was described as a regular at Club Q.

Suthers said there was “reason for hope” all hospital patients would recover.

Joshua Thurman said he was at the club with about two dozen other people dancing when the shooting started. He initially thought it was part of the music until he heard another gunshot and said he saw the flash of a gun muzzle.

Thurman, 34, said he ran with another person to a dressing room where someone was already hiding. They locked the door, turned off the light and got on the ground, but could hear the violence unfolding, including the gunman’s punches, he added.

“Nothing prevented this man from coming through those doors, the doors were locked but they were not bolted. Nothing stopped him from coming through and finishing us all.”

At least two people are now being identified as heroes who are credited with attacking Aldrich, grabbing his gun, hitting him with it and pinning him until police officers first arrived three minutes later. Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said her quick thinking saved countless lives.

Investigators were also looking into whether anyone helped Aldrich before the attack, Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said. He said well wishers who intervened during the attack were “heroic” and owed gratitude for preventing further deaths.

Club Q is a gay and lesbian nightclub that offers a drag show on Saturdays, according to its website. Club Q’s Facebook page said the planned entertainment included a “punk and alternative show” ahead of a birthday dance party with an all-ages drag brunch on Sunday.

Suthers noted the club had been operating for 21 years and had not reported any threats prior to Saturday’s attack.

NewsNation affiliate KDVR and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This story evolves. Refresh for updates. Charges filed in Colorado gay club shooting

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