Previous charges, an assault rifle and a red flag law: More questions emerge about alleged Colorado Springs LGBTQ club shooter – Boston News, Weather, Sports

(CNN) — A current of grief over the killing of five people at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs has led to growing questions about whether the massacre could have been averted over the weekend.

At least 19 others were injured Saturday night at Club Q – a longtime safe haven for the LGBTQ community and now another crime scene in a country that has suffered an average of two mass shootings every day this year.

Authorities have revealed more about the 22-year-old suspect Anderson Lee Aldrichwho faces preliminary charges of five counts of first-degree murder and a prejudice-motivated crime – known elsewhere as a hate crime – that caused bodily harm.

Authorities have not formally charged Aldrich, who was hospitalized after being subdued by two “heroic” people at the club, which police credit with preventing more tragedies.

The suspect was transferred in custody of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office in jail, Colorado Springs police said Tuesday. Aldrich was also listed on the county jail’s online roster.

When asked by CNN Tuesday if the suspect was cooperating with authorities, Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez told CNN, “We have not received any information from him.”

It is not yet clear whether Aldrich has a lawyer.

According to investigators:

  • The suspect brought an AR-style weapon and a handgun into Club Q on Saturday night, but primarily used the assault rifle to carry out the massacre, Vasquez said.
  • While Colorado has a red flag law aimed at temporarily restricting access to guns to those deemed a danger to themselves or others, it might not have applied to Aldrich if his 2021 case had never been decided or if no one had ever continued the intervention.

Suspects to be formally charged ‘sometime next week’, prosecutors say

The suspect is scheduled to make his first court appearance Wednesday, which will include “deliberation on the indictment as well as deliberation on bail terms,” ​​Colorado Fourth District Attorney Michael Allen said.

The suspect is being held without bond, Allen told CNN’s Erin Burnett.

The formal indictment “will likely take place sometime next week or, depending on court schedules, the week after,” Allen said, adding he expects an indictment in “about 10 days.”

And while murder charges offer the longest sentencing options, Allen said he expects more charges beyond that.

“Colorado has biased crime laws that most people see as hate crimes. We’re definitely looking into that based on the facts in this case,” Allen said. “And if there is evidence of this, we will definitely prosecute them too.”

Analyst: Mass shootings have increased since the ban on assault rifles was lifted

The United States had an assault-style gun ban that was introduced in 1994 and expired in 2004.

While this ban wasn’t perfect, it “had the effect of limiting the number of high-powered semi-automatic weapons in circulation,” said Andrew McCabe, CNN’s law enforcement analyst.

“We’ve seen a big drop in mass shootings and deaths in that time,” said McCabe, a former deputy director of the FBI. “That’s not even really debatable.”

Questions arise as to why previous charges were dropped

It’s not clear why felony charges against Aldrich were dropped following reports of a 2021 bomb threat.

Video obtained by CNN showed Aldrich apparently scolding the police and urging them to break into his mother’s home where he was hiding.

“I’ve got the f***ing motherfuckers outside, look at that, they pointed a bead at me,” Aldrich says in the video, pointing the camera at a window with blinds. “See that there? Damn motherfuckers got their damn guns out.”

Later in the video, Aldrich says, “If they break, I’m a fucking king blow it to hell

He ends the video with what appears to be a message to law enforcement from outside: “So, um, go ahead and get in there guys! Let’s fucking see it!”

The video doesn’t actually show any officers in front of the house, and it’s not clear from the video if Aldrich had any guns in the house.

A few hours after the first call to the police, the local sheriff’s department’s Crisis Negotiation Unit was able to get Aldrich out of the house. Authorities found no explosives in the home, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said.

Alrich was arrested and sent to the El Paso County Jail two counts of threatened crime and three counts of first-degree kidnappingaccording to a 2021 press release from the sheriff’s office.

It wasn’t immediately clear how the bomb threat case was resolved, but the Colorado Springs Gazette reported that prosecutors said no formal charges were filed in the case. Prosecutors did not respond to a request for comment from CNN.

Aldrich bought the two guns that were brought into Club Q on Saturday night, law enforcement officials told CNN this week. However, it’s not clear if the AR-style rifle and pistol were purchased before or after Fall 2021.

Aldrich’s arrest in connection with the bomb threat would not have surfaced on background checks because the case was never decided, the charges were dropped, and the files were sealed. It is unclear what led to the sealing of the records.

A Red Flag law ‘wasn’t perfect in the circumstances’

In 2019, Colorado passed a controversial warning flag law that allows family members, roommates, or law enforcement to request a judge to temporarily confiscate a person’s firearms if they determine they are at risk.

When asked on Monday why the Red Flag Law was not used in Aldrich’s case, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said it was “too early” to say so.

“I don’t have enough information to know exactly what the officers knew,” said Weiser.

One limitation of Colorado’s red flag law is that it requires family members, the police, or others to actively begin trying to temporarily remove access to guns for anyone who could cause harm.

“The Colorado red flag law works when a family member or a roommate or a police officer proactively files the required paperwork and goes before a judge and argues that someone should not have access to a gun,” McCabe said.

“I’m not aware of anything that would require some sort of investigation by the red flag law if someone is brought in,” he told law enforcement.

“It is not clear to me from this situation whether (the suspect) was subject to a restraining order or any type of psychological evaluation. Even if this were the case, it is not clear that a red flag consideration is required in a TRO or mental health assessment. It is entirely voluntary.”

Senator John Hickenlooper, a former Colorado governor, said he believes there are imperfections in the red flag law.

“Obviously, the implementation wasn’t perfect under the circumstances,” Hickenlooper said on Tuesday. “Far from perfect. It was a failure in every way.”

5 other victims join hundreds of others lost to mass shootings this year

Officials identified the victims killed as Daniel Aston, Raymond Green Vance, Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh and Derrick Rump.

So far this year, the US has recorded at least 605 mass shootings, the authorities said Archives of Gun Violencewhich CNN reports incidents in which four or more people were killed or wounded, excluding the gunman.

Barrett Hudson survived the massacre, although he was shot seven times while trying to flee the gunfire.

“Seven bullets missed my spine, missed my liver, missed my colon,” Hudson told CNN. “I was really, really lucky.”

But Hudson and other victims who survived are wracked with grief at the five lives lost.

Ashley Paugh is survived by daughter Ryleigh, who “was her whole world,” Paugh’s family said in a statement.

“She meant everything to this family and we can’t even begin to understand what it will mean not to have her in our lives,” her family said.

Paugh worked at the nonprofit Kids Crossing, which aims to help foster children find homes, the family said. She has also been involved in helping the LGBTQ community find welcoming foster care places.

Derrick Rump was a bartender at Club Q. The venue was a place where he “found a community of people that he really, really loved and he felt he could shine there — and he did,” his sister Julia Kissling CNN subsidiary WFMZ.

Kelly Loving’s sister offered her condolences to the other grieving families as she dealt with her own grief.

“My condolences to all the families who lost someone in this tragic event and to all who are struggling to be accepted in this world,” Tiffany Loving said in the statement to CNN.

“My sister was a good person. She was loving and caring and sweet. Everyone loved her. Kelly was a wonderful person.”

Raymond Green Vance, 22, had just landed a job at a FedEx distribution center in Colorado Springs and “was thrilled to get his first paycheck,” his family said in a statement.

“His own family and friends are completely devastated by the sudden loss of a son, grandson, brother, nephew and cousin who is loved by so many,” his family said.

An Army veteran used the gunman’s own weapon to attack him

The carnage could have been worse had it not been for two people at the club fighting the gunman, police said.

Richard Fierro and Thomas James subdued the attacker before officers arrived just minutes after the shooting began, police said.

Fierro, a former army major who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said took a gun from the attacker and used it to hit him.

The violence and trauma at the club on Saturday night was similar to that found in a war zone, the veteran said.

Fierro was at the nightclub celebrating a birthday with his wife and daughter. His daughter’s boyfriend, Vance, was also there but did not survive.

He got emotional talking about Vance and the others who were killed.

“I’m not a hero,” Fierro said. “I’m just a guy who wanted to protect his kids and his wife and I still couldn’t protect her boyfriend.”

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Sarah Y. Kim

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