On Thursday, a judge in Colorado ruled that there is sufficient evidence to proceed to trial for Anderson Lee Aldrich, who is accused of carrying out a mass shooting at a LGBTQ club last year, resulting in the deaths of five individuals. Aldrich, who identifies as nonbinary and uses the pronouns they and them, was charged with 323 criminal counts, including first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault, and bias-motivated crimes.
During the hearing, prosecutors presented evidence that Aldrich had visited Club Q at least six times previously and had drawn a map of the club’s layout. Additionally, authorities found a mobile phone duct-taped to a baseball hat in their SUV, which appeared to be set up for a live stream of the attack. Fourth Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen argued that the evidence showed that Aldrich had an “aversion to the LGBTQ community” and that the attack was inspired by a “neo-Nazi white supremacist” who was shooting training video.
Aldrich’s defense team countered that their client was under the influence of drugs during the shooting and showed photographs of pill bottles for medications prescribed to treat mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. However, the defense did not say whether Aldrich had been formally diagnosed with any of these conditions. The defense also argued that Aldrich expressed remorse and that their actions were different from those who target a specific group.
The judge presiding over the case, Michael McHenry, ordered Aldrich to be held without bond and decided that prosecutors had provided enough evidence to move ahead with a trial. Hate crime charges require prosecutors to prove that the defendant was driven by bias, wholly or in part. Although Aldrich identifies as nonbinary, someone who is a member of a protected group such as the LGBTQ community can still be charged with a hate crime for targeting peers.
According to the lead detective in the case, Rebecca Joines, Aldrich posted a neo-Nazi video that featured attacks on synagogues and mosques abroad on a website that they either created or administered. Joines testified that although Aldrich did not create the video, they were seeking to emulate it with the attack on the club.
Xavier Kraus, a former neighbor and friend of Aldrich, stated in an exclusive interview last year that an FBI agent had asked him about two websites at an FBI field office in Colorado Springs. One of the websites, a forum-type “free speech” site where people have anonymously posted racist and anti-Semitic memes, language, and videos, was allegedly created by Aldrich. Kraus stated that Aldrich described the site as “a platform where people could go and post pretty much whatever they want.”
The trial for Anderson Lee Aldrich is set to take place at a later date, where prosecutors will need to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to persuade jurors to convict Aldrich on the charges.