According to the presiding judge, the shooter showed enough hate and bias against the LGBTQ community during the shooting at the gay nightclub, Club Q, in Colorado Springs, CO to head to trial. With five people dying in the attack, and 17 others injured, the judge saw more than enough to not only charge the defendant with murder but also with hate crimes.
On the 22nd, prosecutors and defendants argued about the hate crime charges, and how they should apply to Anderson Lee Aldrich. Aldrich claims to be nonbinary, uses they/them as pronouns, and according to witnesses had visited the club at least six times before the attack. While the city is largely conservative, the club had become a haven for the city’s LGTBQ community.
District Attorney Michael Allen showcased the “distaste for LGTBQ” that Aldrich had displayed, including an image of a rifle scope over a gay pride flag, as well as examples of his use of gay slurs against others in person and while online gaming. He also claimed Aldrich was forced into going to the club by their mom, and that it was a “neo-Nazi white supremacist” video posted on a website Aldrich ran that influenced the shooting.
“We presented evidence regarding the defendant’s aversion to the LGBTQ community, evidence related to the defendant’s mother forcing him to go to a club against his will and sort of forced that culture on him,” said Allen. During the arguments, Allen used Aldrich’s birth pronouns of he/him, which seemed to only enrage Aldrich even more, but was factually correct.
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Later, reporters called out Allen about his pronoun use, which Allen apologized for doing while calling it “unintentional.” When asked if he believed Aldrich was nonbinary, Allen said “My belief has nothing to do with that, so I am going to refrain. Again, you can jump to your own conclusions as far as that goes.”
Meanwhile, Aldrich’s lawyers formulated a defense that they believe provides him an “out” in conjunction with his “they/them” preference and explained what was truly going on. Rather than being a hate crime, they have alleged that instead doing lines of cocaine, taking multiple tabs of Xanax, and Adderall the night of the shooting was to blame. They also opened the door to the obvious mental-health issues Aldrich has. Showing photos of the multiple prescriptions Aldrich has for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder, they tried to explain away their problems.
While defense attorney Joseph Archambault spoke to the judge, he explained that the shooting was “senseless, it was awful and it was tragic” and said Aldrich expressed remorse for what he had done. He also pointed out that Aldrich never wrote a manifesto, which is the cornerstone of what most mass shooters do. “It doesn’t excuse it. It’s not a defense. It doesn’t change anything. But it is categorically different than the people who target a group and are unapologetic about it later.”
With arraignment on the charges being delayed until May, Judge Michael McHenry is giving the Aldrich team ample time to cherry-pick the expert that will show that Aldrich can enter a plea of not guilty by a mental defect. He also cautioned that intoxication by alcohol, prescribed, or illegal drugs will not constitute a defense for that plea.
With the topic of Aldrich possibly being gay being discussed, it was also revealed that Aldrich reported told someone trying to stop the attack “My mom will not accept me because I’m gay.” Aldrich then added, “You’re all the same.” This confusing message is about as mistaken as he seems to be mentally.
Receipts of his previous visits showed him buying two vodka sodas and “gayoli fries” from bartender Derrick Rump, someone Aldrich killed in the may lay. During their hunt into his life, they also found a shot-up rainbow flag target, and a note asking someone “relieve me of my own fate, I’m drowning in my wake. How long must I wait for you to rid me of this hate.”
He/him or they/them, this is someone with some serious mental impairment. It’s more than what they want to be called, it’s about him having some seriously mixed messages going on upstairs.