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The Colorado suspect has been formally charged with a shooting at an LGBTQ club that killed five people

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By Keith Coffmann

DENVER (RockedBuzz via Reuters) – The suspect accused of killing five people inside a Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub last month before patrons stopped the attack was formally charged Tuesday with murder, hate crimes and assault.

The suspect, Anderson Lee Aldrich, appeared for a hearing in the El Paso District Court where the charges against the 22-year-old were read. Aldrich was held without bond from the November 19 rampage at Club Q in Colorado Springs. In addition to the five people killed, 22 others suffered gunshot wounds or other injuries.

Aldrich, who wore yellow prison robes and sat at a table with defense attorneys, did not speak during the hearing. Aldrich has not filed a plea for the 305 charges that have been filed.

Aldrich, wearing a bulletproof vest, stormed the club armed with a rifle and pistol and opened fire indiscriminately, police and witnesses said.

Those killed were identified as Kelly Loving, 40; Daniele Aston, 28 years old; Derrick Rump, 38; Ashley Paugh, 34; and Raymond Green Vance, 22.

Two men with military experience subdued Aldrich until the police arrived. A former Army major and decorated veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Richard Fierro, told reporters he disarmed Aldrich and subdued the suspect at the pistol.

In a photo from the booking and during an earlier court appearance, Aldrich appeared battered, apparently from a beating from the bar’s patrons. On Tuesday, Aldrich’s face and neck appeared to have no bruises.

The other man credited with subduing Aldrich, Marine Petty Officer 2nd Class Thomas James, said in a written statement that he only wanted to “save the family I found.”

Although authorities have not publicly identified a motive, the Colorado shooting was reminiscent of the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida, where a gunman killed 49 people before police shot him dead.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Aldrich faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Colorado no longer has a death penalty statute. However, Aldrich could face a death sentence in federal court if prosecutors decide to file charges under the U.S. code, which still provides for the death penalty for certain crimes.

Attorneys hired to represent Aldrich by the Colorado public defender’s office argued in court that their client identifies as non-binary and prefers the pronouns “they” and “them.”

District Attorney Michael Allen said after Aldrich’s first court appearance on Nov. 23 that the suspect’s gender identity would have no bearing on how the case would be prosecuted. On Tuesday, Allen told reporters that he thought the evidence supported biased allegations.

“We will not tolerate actions against community members based on their sexual identity,” Allen told reporters after the hearing. “Members of that community have been harassed, intimidated and abused for far too long.”

Prosecutors were expected to present evidence at the next hearing, scheduled for February 22-24.

Aldrich was previously arrested in June 2021 in Colorado Springs after the suspect threatened to detonate a bomb and harm his mother with multiple weapons, according to a press release from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Steve Gorman, Robert Birsel and Jonathan Oatis)

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