Suspect in Colorado nightclub shooting moved from hospital to jail

Mourners at a memorial outside of Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Nov 22, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

COLORADO - The suspect in the mass shooting that killed five people and wounded 17 at a Colorado Springs nightclub was transferred to jail on Tuesday from the hospital where he was in police custody, and was scheduled to face a judge on Wednesday.

Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, was held on charges that include five counts of first-degree murder and bias crimes stemming from the Saturday night killings. Prosecutors said that after he was out of the hospital they expected to file formal criminal charges that may differ. 

Police announced he was moved from the hospital, and court records showed he was due to appear before a judge on Wednesday morning via video link from jail for an advisement hearing.

Defence lawyers with the Colorado State Public Defender on Tuesday filed several motions on his behalf, including a request that the parties in the case limit their public statements. 

But a footnote to some of the documents says Aldrich identifies as non-binary, prefers they/them pronouns, and will be referred to in court filings with the Mx honorific. 

Aldrich’s lawyers could not be reached after hours to address the substance of the police allegations. The office has a policy of not commenting to the media. 

Though officials have not detailed his injures, the suspect was pummelled by Mr Richard Fierro, a decorated former Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran, in a successful effort to stop further bloodshed at Club Q in Colorado’s second-largest city.

Mr Fierro, 44, said he tackled the gunman and took a pistol from him which he used to beat the man into submission, adding that he was aided by another man who removed the shooter’s rifle, which Mr Fierro described as an AR, and kicked him.

Police identified the second man as Mr Thomas James, who the US Navy on Tuesday identified one of its sailors.

Mr James, a Navy information systems technician second class stationed in Colorado Springs, was injured in the shooting and was hospitalised in stable condition Tuesday, the Navy said in a statement.

The suspect was previously arrested in June 2021 after his mother reported he threatened to detonate a bomb and harm her with multiple weapons, according to a news release from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. 

At age 15, while living in Texas, he legally changed his name from Nicholas Franklin Brink to Anderson Lee Aldrich “to protect himself and his future from any connections to birth father and his criminal history,” The Denver Post reported, citing court records. The petition said he had not seen his father in years. 

A separate Washington Post report, based on court documents, described a difficult childhood, saying his parents separated when he was a toddler, and that when he was 12 his mother was arrested on suspicion of arson but later convicted of a lesser offence.

Like the police, the White House has not labelled the mass shooting as a hate crime, but noted the rampage took place in a polarised political climate in which LGBTQ rights are being jeopardised.

“This attack also comes amid a rise in violent rhetoric and threats against the LGBTQI-plus people across the country,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told a press briefing. “While we don’t know yet, for certain the motive of this attack, hate has no place in this country, and neither do military style assault rifles, which is why we will continue to push for an assault weapons ban.”

Ms Jean-Pierre also paid tribune to the five who died, offering brief profiles of each.

They are Kelly Loving, 40, Daniel Aston, 28, Derrick Rump, 38, Ashley Paugh, 34, and Raymond Green Vance, 22.

The city of Colorado Springs announced it would display a 25-foot (7.6m) pride flag on the exterior of City Hall on Wednesday to honour the victims.

The press secretary also called Mr Fierro and Mr James “heroes,” expressing gratitude for their quick action.

The rampage took place in a polarised political climate in which LGBTQ rights are being jeopardised. PHOTO: AFP

Ms Jean-Pierre said US President Joe Biden spoke to Mr Fierro and his wife, Ms Jess Fierro, offering both thanks “for his bravery” and condolences for the death of Mr Green, their daughter’s boyfriend.

The Fierro family, Mr James and other friends went to Club Q to celebrate a birthday. REUTERS

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