Colorado gay club shooting victims

Harris Marley
Harris Marley

Global Courant

Shooter Club Q pleads guilty to murder

Suspect in the Club Q shooting, Anderson Lee Aldrich, appeared in court in Colorado on Monday, where he pleaded guilty to murder and attempted murder, not contesting felony and misdemeanor crimes motivated by bias.

Five people died and 17 others were injured last year when a gunman opened fire at Club Q, an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs. Anderson Lee Aldrich, the suspect in the mass shooting, has pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to life in prison. Nearly two dozen victims confronted Aldrich in court, calling him a coward, monster, and terrorist

One by one, nearly two dozen victims lined up in a courtroom to face the person who pleaded guilty to killing five people and wounding 17 others in an attack last year on a nightclub that served as a haven for Colorado’s LGBTQ+ community Springs.

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Some cried, others boiled with rage. They called him coward, monster, terrorist.

Family and friends of the deceased and survivors who witnessed Anderson Lee Aldrich unleash terror at Club Q a week before Thanksgiving ensured during Monday’s emotional hearing that Aldrich will not receive a life sentence without facing the truth of the many lives that have been ruined or immutably changed .


“This monster next to me decided to come into my job and our safe space in the community and hunt us down like our lives were meaningless,” said Michael Anderson, who was bartender that night. “He has broken this community into pieces that may never be mended.”

Aldrich pleaded guilty in state court to five counts of murder and 46 counts of attempted murder – one for each person in Club Q during the attack. Aldrich also pleaded no contest to two hate crimes.

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Through hours of heartbreaking testimonies, the survivors and family members of the dead spoke of the recurring trauma they’ve experienced and how it has disrupted their jobs and emotional well-being. One offered his forgiveness for Aldrich, while another, a woman whose daughter’s boyfriend was killed, told Aldrich, “The devil is waiting with open arms.”

Many who spoke said they wish Colorado still had the death penalty so it could be applied to Aldrich. Many deplored the gun violence so widespread in the US

Richard Fierro, a military veteran who along with others ended Aldrich’s shooting at the Club Q nightclub last November, stared at Aldrich as he spoke, his voice rising in palpable rage.

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Anderson Lee Aldrich, left, the suspect in a mass shooting that killed five people at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs last year, will appear in court on June 26, 2023. (Judiciary Department of Colorado via AP)

“I want this terrorist to have visions of his terror to haunt him for the rest of your life,” said Fierro, whose daughter’s boyfriend was killed that night.

Drea Norman remembered the loud bangs heard that night, the smell of gunpowder filling the bat and the muzzle flashes that went on and on. Crawling on all fours, Norman stumbled over to Raymond Greene Vance, already shot and pulseless, then hid in a freezer.

When the shooting stopped, Norman stepped around Vance to find bartender Derek Rump fatally shot on the patio. Then Norman heard screams – Fierro called for help to stop Aldrich.

“I was above him. My only thought was to throw my foot down, stop him, and after what I imagine was ten strokes, I stopped,” Norman said.

People in the courtroom wiped away tears as the judge explained the charges and read out the names of the victims. Judge Michael McHenry also issued a stern rebuke of Aldrich’s actions, linking it to societal misery.

Aldrich walked into the club just before midnight on November 19 and, according to authorities, began indiscriminately firing an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle.


The plea of ​​guilty came just seven months after the shooting and spares the victim’s families and survivors a long and potentially painful process. More charges could be forthcoming: The FBI is working with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division on a separate investigation into the attack, authorities confirmed.

Aldrich — who identifies as non-binary and uses she and they pronouns — did not reveal a motivation at Monday’s hearing and declined to address the court during sentencing.

The guilty plea followed a series of prison calls from Aldrich to The Associated Press expressing his regret.

But District Attorney Michael Allen said Aldrich’s statements rang hollow. The prosecution also rejected the idea that Aldrich was non-binary, saying there was “zero evidence” to support that prior to the shooting.

“I think it was a stilted attempt to avoid allegations of bias or hatred,” Allen said. Allen said the defendant showed “extreme hatred” towards the LGBTQ+ community and repeatedly called Aldrich a coward at a post-conviction press conference.

Outside the courtroom, Joshua Thurman said he is concerned that someone will open fire again, whether at the grocery store, gas station or his apartment. Thurman said he is in therapy and dealing with a drinking problem.

“Even though I smile and laugh, I’m in pain,” Thurman said. “It’s so hard not wanting to grab a bottle. Eight, nine in the morning.’


In fact, Aldrich’s plea to hate crime charges has the same impact as a conviction under Colorado law and does not absolve them of responsibility.

The killings brought back memories of the 2016 massacre at gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Florida, which left 49 people dead.

Aldrich was originally charged in state court with more than 300 state counts, including murder and hate crimes. As authorities consider separate federal charges, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has requested that no documents in the case be released, Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said.

Stephanie Clark, Ashley Paugh’s sister, recalled that her 11-year-old niece hoped Paugh would be found safe after the shooting. The young girl’s hopes vanished with cries of “no, no, no” and “please do something” after finding out her mother was gone.

“That’s something I wish he would hear every day for the rest of his life,” said Clark.

Colorado gay club shooting victims

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