Colorado Club Q shooting: Attacker sentenced to life in prison after pleading guiltyon June 26, 2023 at 6:10 pm

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Anderson Lee Aldrich, 23, opened fire with an assault rifle at Club Q in Colorado Springs.

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The attacker who killed five people at an LGBT nightclub in Colorado last has been sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to murder and attempted murder.

Anderson Lee Aldrich, 23, opened fire with an assault rifle at Club Q in Colorado Springs on 19 November 2022.

The shooting was stopped by club-goers, who subdued the attacker until police arrived.

The five dead ranged in age from 22 to 40. Another 17 were left shot.

The slain victims were Daniel Aston, Derrick Rump, Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh and Raymond Vance.

As part of a plea deal, the attacker was sentenced to five consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole, as well as 46 consecutive 48 year sentences for the attempted murders. Aldrich, who identifies as non-binary, asked the court on Monday to be identified by the gender-neutral honorific Mx.

They pleaded “no contest” to charges of bias-motivated crimes, for which they were sentenced to just under four years.

“When you commit a hate crime, you are targeting a group of people for their simple existence,” Judge Michael McHenry said. “The sentence in this court is that such hate will not be tolerated.”

Judge McHenry added that he believes Aldrich’s actions “reflect the deepest malice of the human heart”.

“And malice is almost always born of ignorance and fear,” Judge McHenry added.

Aldrich declined to address the court ahead of the sentencing. Their attorney, however, said they are “deeply remorseful and deeply sorry” and “know they can’t do anything to make it better”.

Victims of some of the family members addressed the court after the plea.

Among them was Sabrina Aston, the mother of Daniel Aston, who was one of Club Q’s bartenders the night of the shooting.

“I will never forgive you for the heinous crime,” she said.

Adriana Vance, the mother of Raymond Vance, said Aldrich “doesn’t deserve to go on”.

“What matters now is that he never sees the sunrise or the sunset,” she added.

Ashley Paugh’s father Curt asked the court: “Why isn’t the punishment harsher?”

“He gets to breathe air, eat three meals a day,” he said, adding that Aldrich should “rot in loneliness and hate”.

Aldrich showed no emotion as the families made statements.

In a recent interview with the Associated Press news agency, Aldrich said they felt a need to ” take responsibility for what happened”. They also claimed they were “on a very large plethora of drugs” at the time.

When asked by the judge on Monday, Aldrich said they remain on a variety of medication, including mood stabilisers and anti-psychotic drugs.

Aldrich’s version of the event was disputed by District Attorney Michael Allen, who called Aldrich’s comments “self-serving in nature” and “disgusting”.

He added that the evidence suggests months of planning and premeditation by Aldrich, including intentionally evading background checks to purchase weapons and communicating “a hatred for minorities and those in the LGBTQ+ community”.

“These victims were targeted for who they were and are,” Mr Allen said. “The targeting of groups will not be tolerated”.

The shooting – which lasted six minutes – was ended after Richard Fierro, a 15-year US Army veteran, tackled the attacker.

As Mr Fierro and Aldrich wrestled on the ground, a drag show performer pummelled Aldrich with a high-heel shoe.

In court on Monday, Mr Fierro referred to Mr Aldrich as a “terrorist” who “brought combat” to innocent people at Club Q.

“I had more respect for the adversaries I fought overseas than I do for this individual,” he said. “I hope the words I yelled into the back of your head that night echo for the rest of your life.”

Aldrich had previously been arrested in Colorado Springs in June 2021 after threatening to detonate a bomb and harm their mother, court documents show.

The charges were dropped despite relatives warning the judge in that case that Aldrich remained a danger to the public.

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