Late Saturday night, an attacker opened fire in a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, wounding at least 25 people and killing at least five. The club said that the suspect was taken down by clubgoers, and police in Colorado Springs said he was arrested and taken to a hospital to be treated for his injuries.
Here’s what we know about the suspected criminal:
Who is Anderson Lee Aldrich?
At a news conference on Sunday morning, Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said that the suspect was 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich. Investigators found two guns at the scene of the shooting. Vasquez said that Aldrich used a long gun during the shooting. Aldrich is still in a hospital in the area.
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Does Aldrich Have a Criminal Past?
Officials with law enforcement said that Aldrich’s “Interactions with Law Enforcement” are part of a larger investigation, but they wouldn’t say if he had been in touch with police before. Reports from the time say that a man with the same name and age was arrested in June 2021 for threatening his mother with “a homemade bomb, multiple weapons, and ammunition.” After a short fight, that man was taken into custody.
Howard Black, a spokesman for the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, would not confirm Sunday morning that Aldrich was the same man who was arrested in June 2021. Black said that everything about what happened in June 2021 “is part of the investigation and will be made public when it’s time.”
The thing that happened in June 2021 happened at Leslie Bowman‘s house in the Lorson Ranch neighborhood outside of Colorado Springs. Before the alleged bomb threat, Aldrich’s mother rented a room from Bowman for about 15 months. Andy, who Bowman knew as Aldrich, would go to his mom’s house and watch movies in her room most of the time. Bowman thought that this was pretty typical of young men at that age.
Bowman said that there was one time when Aldrich was mean to her. His mother was upset that the toilet in her bathroom didn’t work, but it was late and Bowman didn’t want to deal with it until the next day. Aldrich hit back.
“He kind of got in my face and said, ‘Get out,’ and then slammed the door in my face,” Bowman said. “I just put it down to young men being mean. Everyone was in a bad mood because it was late. After that, nothing went wrong.”
Then, on June 18, 2021, while Bowman was watching a friend’s kids, she got some strange texts from Aldrich’s mother asking when she might be home. She finally told Bowman not to come home because “Some People Were Looking For Andy.”
Bowman called the police and found out that her house was in the middle of a supposed bomb threat, an order to evacuate, and a standoff between police and the suspects.
Aldrich eventually gave up and was taken into custody. The next day, Bowman went back to the house and packed up his mom’s things. The next day, some men from Aldrich’s mother’s church came and got them. Bowman never saw her former tenant or talked to her again.
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Bowman didn’t think to look into what happened after Aldrich was arrested until last month. The El Paso County Sheriff‘s deputies who were looking for his mother knocked on her door. Bowman figured out that it might have been a check on the person’s well-being.
So, Bowman went online to find out what was going on with Aldrich’s case. She found out that the charges were dropped.
“No one got in touch with me after that weekend, not the police, not the investigators, not the DA,” Bowman said about the standoff in 2021. “I hope his mom is all right. I think we’ll know soon.”
Bowman thought the family was getting ready to move out of Colorado in 2021. Aldrich lived with his grandparents, who were selling their house in Lorson Ranch so they could move to Florida. Before he was caught, Aldrich and his mother were supposed to join them.
What Do Police Think Aldrich’s Reason Was for Shooting at The Club Q?
As of Sunday morning, officials still wouldn’t answer questions about why the suspect shot, saying that the investigation was still going on. One person who lives in the same apartment complex as the suspect said that police came by early Sunday morning and asked questions. She and another person who lives in the complex both said that they had just moved in and didn’t know the suspect.
Club Q said in a statement that the shooting was a hate crime.
“Club Q is heartbroken by the stupid attack on our neighborhood,” the club wrote on its Facebook page. It said that it was praying for the victims and their families and added, “We are grateful to the brave customers who stopped the gunman quickly and put an end to this hate attack.”
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The attack was called “Unspeakable” by GLAAD, which stands for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of GLAAD, said, “You can draw a straight line from the false and hateful rhetoric about LGBTQ people spread by extremists and amplified on social media to the nearly 300 Anti-LGBTQ bills introduced this year and the dozens of attacks on our community like this one.”
“The fact that this mass shooting happened the night before Transgender Day of Remembrance when we remember the trans people who died the year before, makes the trauma and tragedy even worse for everyone in the LGBTQ community.