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2021 case against Colorado gay bar shooting suspect was dropped due to lack of cooperation

Authorities dropped 2021 bomb threat case against suspect The district attorney said Thursday that a shooting at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub occurred after family members refused to cooperate.

El Paso County District Attorney Michael Allen also said that Anderson Lee Aldrich tried to return the confiscated guns after the threat, but officers did not return the weapons.

Allen spoke hours after a judge opened the case, who indicated that Aldrich had threatened to kill relatives and become “the next mass murderer” a year before the nightclub attack that killed five people.

colorado springs shooting
In this image taken from El Paso County District Court video, Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, sits during a court appearance on Dec. 6, 2022 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

AP


Aldrich’s statement in the case, which was unsealed over the summer, raised questions about whether officers could have used Colorado’s “red flag” law to seize a weapon from a suspect.

Judge Robin Chittam said the “intense” public interest in the case outweighed Aldrich’s privacy rights. The judge said that the scrutiny of judicial matters is “fundamental to our system of government.”

“The only way for that investigation to happen is for it to be unsealed,” she said.

Aldrich, 22, was arrested in June 2021 for making a bomb threat that led to the evacuation of about 10 homes. Aldrich threatened to harm family members and claimed to have bomb-making materials, ammunition and several weapons, according to law enforcement documents.

Aldrich was jailed on suspicion of felony kidnapping and kidnapping. The case was later dropped, and officials declined to speak about it, citing a state law requiring the closure of dismissed cases.

The judge’s order to release the records came after news organizations including the Associated Press demanded the documents be unsealed, and two days after the AP published parts of the sealed documents that were verified with a law enforcement official. .

The papers detail how Aldrich told the horrified grandparents about the firearms and bomb-making materials in the grandparents’ basement and told them of Aldrich’s plans to be the “next mass murderer” and to “go out in the fire”. I swore not to interfere.

Aldrich then pointed a Glock handgun at the grandparents as they pleaded for their lives and said, “You guys die today… I’m loaded and ready.”

The documents also describe how grandparents ran for their lives and called 911, and how nearby homes were evacuated for fear of a bomb blast.

Aldrich — who uses he/her pronouns and is non-binary, according to his attorneys — hid in his mother’s home in a standoff with SWAT teams and determination to have armor-piercing rounds and “go to the end.” warned about.

Eventually, a barefoot Aldrich came out with his hands raised and surrendered.

The law enforcement official who confirmed the documents to the AP spoke on condition of anonymity because the officials were not authorized to talk about the papers.

Aldrich was also the subject of a tip received by the FBI the day before the bomb threat. Agents closed the case a few weeks later.

Under Colorado law, records are automatically sealed when a case is dropped and defendants are not prosecuted, as was the case in Aldrich’s 2021 case. Once sealed, officials may not acknowledge that the records exist, and the process of opening the documents initially takes place behind closed doors, with no docket to follow and an anonymous judge Is.

Chittam said, “I think it’s one of the weirdest hearings I’ve ever heard.” “I’m hearing about a case that none of us are able to recognize.”

Chittum pronounced the verdict despite objections from the suspect’s lawyer and mother.

Public Defender Joseph Archambault argued that while the public was interested in the case, Aldrich’s right to a fair trial was paramount.

“This will ensure that there is no presumption of innocence,” Archambault said.

During Thursday’s hearing, Aldrich sat at the defense table, looking straight ahead or down several times, and did not react when his mother’s attorney asked that the case be closed.

An attorney for Aldrich’s mother argued that leaving the case unheard of would increase the likelihood that Laura Voepel would suffer harm, intimidation or retaliation.

Aldrich was formally charged Tuesday with 305 criminal counts, including a hate crime and murder, over the Nov. 19 shooting at Club Q, a sanctuary for the LGBTQ community in mostly conservative Colorado Springs.

Investigators say Aldrich entered with an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle just before midnight and began shooting during the drag queen’s birthday celebration. Witnesses stated that the guards stopped the killing by pinning the suspect to the ground and knocking Aldrich down.

Seventeen people suffered gunshot wounds but survived, officials said.

Conviction on the charge of murder shall carry the severest punishment – imprisonment for life.

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