Colorado Springs shooting: Anderson Lee Aldrich sentenced to life in prison

Killing spree at Club Q nightclub left five people dead and nearly two dozen injured

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The person who killed five people at a Colorado Springs nightclub in 2022 was sentenced to life in prison on Monday, after victims called the gunman a “monster” and “coward” who hunted down revellers in a calculated attack on a sanctuary for the LGBTQ community.

Anderson Lee Aldrich, 23, pleaded guilty to murder and other crimes in a 2022 shooting that killed five people at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs.

Aldrich had reached an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to five first-degree murder counts and 46 attempted murder counts, Reuters reported. The defendant also pleaded no contest to two counts of bias-motivated crimes.

“This thing sitting in this courtroom is not a human, it is a monster,” said Jessica Fierro, whose daughter’s boyfriend was killed that night. “The devil awaits with open arms.”

Aldrich was sentenced to the maximum of five consecutive life sentences plus 2,208 additional years for the 46 counts of attempted murder, the second longest sentence in state history.

On November 19, 2022, Aldrich, wearing body armour, opened fire at Club Q.

Apart from those killed, nearly two dozen others were wounded by gunfire or otherwise injured before being stopped by “heroic” patrons. Aldrich, then 22, was charged with 323 criminal counts.

The deal with prosecutors called for Aldrich to be sentenced immediately following the guilty plea, sparing victim’s families and survivors a long and potentially painful trial, the Associated Press reported.

People in the courtroom wiped away tears as the judge explained the charges and read out the names of the victims.

As the hearing proceeded, family members of those who were killed delivered tearful statements to the court.

“He was kind-hearted, cheerful, sensitive in spirit and a gifted poet,” Jeff Aston said of his son, Daniel Aston, who was among those killed.

“He had a contagious smile and burning blue eyes … His mum and I will never be the same.”

Aldrich’s body shook slightly as the victims and family members spoke. The defendant also looked down and glanced occasionally at a screen showing photos of the victims.

Aldrich did not reveal a motivation and declined to address the court during the sentencing part of the hearing, but apologised through the defence team.

“You are targeting a group of people for their simple existence,” Judge Michael McHenry told Aldrich.

“Like too many other people in our culture, you chose to find a power that day behind the trigger of a gun, your actions reflect the deepest malice of the human heart, and malice is almost always born of ignorance and fear.”

Colorado no longer has a death-penalty statute. However, Aldrich could face a death sentence in federal court if prosecutors decide to bring charges under the US code, which still has capital punishment on its books for certain crimes.

District Attorney Michael Allen said the federal death penalty was a “big part of what motivated the defendant” to plead guilty.

The shooting at Club Q was reminiscent of a massacre in 2016, when a gunman killed 49 people at the gay Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, before he was shot dead by police.

Aldrich was formally charged last December 6 and did not enter a plea at the time.

Those killed in the shooting were identified as Daniel Aston, 28; Kelly Loving, 40; Derrick Rump, 38; Ashley Paugh, 34; and Raymond Green Vance, 22.

Aldrich was known to law enforcement, having been arrested in June 2021. Aldrich's mother had reported Aldrich's threat to detonate a bomb and harm her with several weapons, according to a press release from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.

Aldrich's mother declined to give evidence for the prosecution and the case was dismissed.

Five dead in Colorado nightclub shooting

A view of various security and emergency vehicles with flashing blinkers parked on a street, after a shooting in a club, in Colarado Springs, Colorado, U. S November 20, 2022, in this picture obtained from social media.  in this picture obtained from social media.  Trey Deabueno/TWITTER @TREYRUFFY/via REUTERS  THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.  MANDATORY CREDIT.  NO RESALES.  NO ARCHIVES.
Updated: June 27, 2023, 6:14 AM