During the first day of a preliminary hearing on Wednesday to determine whether the suspect accused of carrying out the mass shooting at Club Q will face hate crimes charges, law enforcement officials testified that Anderson Lee Aldrich ran a neo-Nazi website and attempted to blame the shooting on the bar patron who helped subdue them.
Aldrich, 22, faces more than 300 charges related to the deadly attack on the Colorado Springs LGBTQ+ nightclub last November, which killed five people and injured over a dozen others.
On Wednesday, prosecutors presented evidence that Aldrich, whose lawyers say identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns, planned the attack in advance, including a sketched map of Club Q found at Aldrich’s apartment and evidence that they had been to the club at least six times prior to the shooting.
Detective Rebecca Joines testified that Aldrich ran a neo-Nazi website that featured a white supremacist training video glorifying mass shootings, posted an image of a Pride parade with a rifle scope trained on it, and used anti-LGBTQ+ and racist slurs while gaming. Joines said that while those who knew Aldrich were unaware that they identified as nonbinary, Aldrich had told them that their mother, Laura Voepel, was nonbinary and had taken them to gay bars. Aldrich’s defense showed a photo of Aldrich and Voepel at Club Q taken in August 2021.
Joines also testified that there was evidence that Aldrich planned to livestream the shooting.
Connor Wallick, one of the first police officers to arrive at the scene, described hearing screaming and crying, smelling gunpowder, and hearing music still playing in the club. Wallick said that Aldrich had denied that guns found at the scene belonged to them and tried to blame the shooting on one of the patrons who had helped subdue them.
“They kept making statements that the person who was on top of them was the shooter in the incident. They also mentioned, prior to that, that the shooter was hiding,” Wallick testified.
Defense lawyers said that Aldrich had been awake for four days prior to the shooting and that they had taken methamphetamine, cocaine, and Xanax that night. They said that Aldrich had prescriptions for medications to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, and opioid addiction and that they suffered from PTSD from having been sexually assaulted.
The hearing is expected to continue on Thursday.