COLORADO SPRINGS — The preliminary hearing for Anderson Lee Aldrich began Wednesday, February 22nd. Aldrich is currently facing 323 charges for the alleged involvement in the Club Q shooting.
Aldrich allegedly was the shooter on the night of November 19th, 2022 at Club Q. Aldrich is accused of using an AR-15-style rifle to open fire inside the club, killing five people and injuring 17 others.
Aldrich was originally charged with 305 counts, including assault, bias-motivated crimes, and attempted murder. 4th Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen amended the charges against Aldrich on January 9th adding 12 additional charges and bringing the total to 317 counts.
Six additional charges have also been added bringing the total charges Aldrich faces to 323.
Aldrich's alleged actions on the night of November 19th, 2022 were directly responsible for the deaths of 5 individuals, Raymond Green Vance, 22; Daniel Aston, 28; Ashley Paugh, 35; Derrick Rump, 38; and Kelly Loving, 40.
The preliminary hearing is slated for three days beginning this morning. It's expected to run until Friday. During a preliminary hearing in Colorado, the prosecution is tasked with providing a motive for Aldrich's actions to continue this case and bring it to trial.
Over the course of the next few days, evidence will be presented, testimony will be heard, and a thorough review of the collected evidence and cross-examination of witnesses will be held.
While cameras and recording video of the preliminary hearing is not available News5 will be updating this article in real-time as the hearing proceeds. You can also watch our coverage on News5 nightly news.
The hearing will be taking place at the El Paso County Courthouse. For those that want to watch the hearing themselves an online stream is available.
Aldrich is currently being held on no bond at the El Paso County Jail.
The prosecution began the preliminary hearing promptly at 8:30 AM on Wednesday. The prosecuting attorneys for the People of Colorado vs Anderson Lee Aldrich were led by 4th Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen.
The prosecution called Colorado Springs Police Officer Connor Wallick forward to the stand as the first testimony and the preliminary hearing got underway. Wallick was the first officer at the scene of the shooting on November 19th, 2022.
Wallick testified that he and two other officers first arrived at the scene within two minutes of the shooting call coming through from dispatch. Wallick and the two other officers initially entered Club Q rifles drawn, where they described the environment as dark with a club-style environment. The music was turned down and people were screaming.
Within seconds of entering the club, Wallick and other officers were contacted by a victim with their hands up that informed the officers that the suspect was in a struggle with another club-goer on the ground. Wallick was able to locate an individual on top of the described suspect with a pistol in their hand.
Wallick instructed that individual to lower the weapon and step away from the person on the ground. That individual complied with the officer's request. Wallick stated that the individual on the ground matched the suspect description from dispatch and individuals at the scene began the process of detaining the suspect.
After a failed attempt to get the suspect to comply, Officer Wallick forcibly detained the suspect. In the process, Wallick noted three AR-style magazines and a grenade-type-looking device during the initial arrest. It was not determined if this was an explosive device.
The second witness brought to the stand was Colorado Springs Police Homicide Detective Jason Gasper. Gasper is the lead homicide detective on this case, and the responding detective to the scene when it was determined the homicide unit would take lead on this investigation.
Gasper arrived at the scene around 2:00 AM on November 20th, 2022. Gasper's main role in the investigation was to process the scene and begin to process evidence found at the scene.
Gasper testified that a total of six AR-style magazines were found littered around the club. These magazines were found and had some weight to them, indicating that all rounds were not expended. A magazine count of the cartridges was not done, to preserve fingerprints or DNA evidence found on the rounds.
The imagery presented by the prosecution as evidence from the scene of the crime was broken down by Gasper in the courtroom detailing what the court was looking at. Images presented showed the projectile impacts of bullets around the club, used medical gear, pools of blood, a multitude of depended-on AR-style cartridges, and the five people who were killed.
Gasper also reviewed imagery taken at the apartment of the alleged shooter Anderson Lee Aldrich. Gasper testified that one of the images presented was a box that matched the same manufacturer and style as the drum magazine found at the scene of the crime.
The defense is currently cross-examining Detective Jason Gasper.
The defense opened by questioning Gasper stating that it is not illegal to own, assemble, or shoot at targets, referencing the materials that were found in Aldrich's apartment.
The examination also showed statements made by Aldrich at the hospital following the detaining of Aldrich. The suspect said Aldrich had been awake for four days, that Aldrich was sorry, and told medical personnel Aldrich was non-binary (Gasper vaguely remembers the last statement).
The defense ended the examination of Gasper by asking about any manifestos, derogatory remarks, or hate speech directly targeting the LGBTQ community. Gasper testified that he saw no such thing in the suspect's apartment.
Re-direct prosecution pointed out that social media and forensic analysis of computers had not been completed at this stage of the investigation and that could show another method of communication with evidence later.
This ended the testimony and examination of Jason Gasper.
The third witness called to the stand was CSPD Homicide Detective Ashton Gardner.
Gardner is the acting victim detective on the case, charged with taking witness testimony from the scene and victim accounts of the shooting. Gardner laid out the testimony and victim descriptions of what happened during the shooting.
Victims present at the hearing were tearing up as accounts of the shootings and injuries sustained by victims were reiterated by Detective Gardner. One particular victim account that stood out was that of Thomas James.
James was the first person to confront the shooter on the night of November 19th, 2022. Gardner testified that James initially found what was described as a "heavy metal bucket" to confront the shooter.
From Gardner's testimony, Thomas James initially confronted the suspect attempting to confiscate the AR-style weapon from the shooter. James received multiple burns to the hand from the heat of the weapon following its repetitive discharge.
James told Gardner that during the struggle for the AR-style weapon, the suspect pulled out a handgun, and a struggle for that weapon began. During the struggle for this weapon, two shots were fired from the handgun striking James in the abdomen area and injuring his ribs.
Gardner testified that James continued to struggle with the shooter as other club patrons came to his aide, and three held the shooter down until police arrived.
While the stories of injuries and victim testimony are heartbreaking, glimpses of courage and strength followed the aftermath of the horrible scene that unfolded. Gardner testified that even while suffering multiple gunshot wounds, Thomas James gave up his ambulance ride to someone determined to be in a more life-threatening state.
The court entered lunch recess and resumed at 1:30 PM. The prosecution did inform Judge Michael McHenry that they were still on schedule in this case.
The court resumed with Detective Gardner re-taking the stand. Prosecution continued to hear victim recounts and injuries sustained before dismissing the witness. The defense did not wish to cross-examine this witness.
The fourth witness called by the prosecution was CSPD Homicide Detective Rebecca Joines, who is the acting lead detective on this case.
District Attorney Michael Allen began the testimony by questioning if Joines had read and seen the autopsy reports of the five victims dead. Joines said that they had read the reports and confirmed that all victims had died after suffering one or multiple gunshot wounds.
The testimony then shifted to items discovered at Aldrich's apartment by the FBI and turned over to Detective Joines during the investigation. One of these was a note found at Aldrich's apartment reading, "Please relieve me of my own fate, I’m drowning in my own wake. How long must I wait for you to rid me of this hate?”
A hand-drawn map of Club Q mapping out the exits and entrances of the club was also found in the apartment.
Testimony shifted, focusing on the number of times Aldrich had been at Club Q previously. It was revealed through a receipt that Aldrich was served by Derrick Rump on the night of October 29th, 2022. A photo was presented as evidence showing Aldrich and mother Laura Voepel at Club Q and the metadata of that photo showed that to be taken on August 31st, 2021.
Detective Joines went on to state that from the ID scanner at the club, law enforcement knew that Aldrich had been to Club Q a total of 6 times before the night of November 19th, 2022.
Testimony shifted to Aldrich's involvement with an extremist free speech site that Joines testified Aldrich was the administrator of. The site hosted a video called "wrong target," which was described in court as a neo-Nazi white supremacist video glorifying mass shootings at Mosques and Temples in Europe. It was Detective Joines' belief that Aldrich was attempting to emulate these videos.
Detective Joines testified online companions that had communicated with Aldrich, stating that the site was run and administered by Aldrich. This included a report from Joines of Nick Brooks of Illinois. Brooks stated to Joines that Anderson expressed hatred towards the police and LGBTQ community. Anderson told Brooks that while gaming, Aldrich would commonly use the n-word and called LGBTQ members “f***.”
When it came to Joines' testimony on the weapons found at the scene of the shooting, Detective Joines testified that the weapons on the scene had multiple parts without serial numbers indicating that these weapons may have been assembled at home.
Joines testified that a weapon part found on the handgun was traceable and was bought under Laura Voepel's name and shipped from Florida. Joines testified that after communication with the ATF, the weapons found at the scene would not have been purchased fully built with a state background check.
The grenade-type device that was originally described to be attached to the ballistic vest Aldrich was allegedly wearing at the time of the shooting was evaluated by the Regional Explosive Unit with CSPD. Joines testified that their findings found it to be an airsoft-style flashbang grenade.
The prosecution shifted their attention to Aldrich's online activity on the messaging, streaming, and communication app Discord. Through an FBI warrant an image was presented in the courtroom as evidence sent by Aldrich to one online correspondence featuring an image of a rifle scope over gay pride parade attendees.
The prosecution was done with their examination of the witness. The defense began the cross-examination by opening with the fact that it is not illegal to buy gun parts in Colorado, to build a firearm in Colorado, and to possess a firearm in Colorado.
The re-direct by the defense came back to Detective Joines testimony about the "wrong-target" video. The defense asked if this was the opinion of Detective Joines that Aldrich was attempting to emulate the video. Joines stated, "yes it was her opinion." The defense focused on the fact that a behavioral analysis of Aldrich was never done on this issue.
The defense then shifted to the findings presented by the FBI of Aldrich's apartment. As stated early in the testimony round counts of AR-Style magazines found at the crime scene were not done to preserve evidence. Photos of various pill prescription bottles presented as evidence were not counted as Joines testified. The defense stated that law enforcement then would not know if the suspect was off this medication or taking them at the time of the shooting.
The defense pulled up pictures of more than 10 prescriptions, prescribed to the defendant. The purposes of the medications range from treating symptoms of depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, nightmares from PTSD, bipolar disorder, and heroin addiction.
Court went into an extended afternoon recess after a "Laura V" was in the Webex comment section, stating profanities and other questions that posed an issue with the court proceedings. Judge Michael McHenry called the attorney from the defense and the prosecution to his chambers to review the comments and discuss how to proceed.
The defense shifted their focus to reports seen by Detective Joines regarding statements the defendant made to individuals at the scene. Of these, one notable one is what Thomas James reported Aldrich stated to him in the struggle, "My mom will not accept me because I am gay, you're all the same."
The defense shifted the focus of testimony to the interviews between Detective Kent with the FBI and Detective Joines. The main focus of this interview was on the alleged drug consumption of Aldrich on the night of the shooting. In testimony, it was stated Aldrich had consumed four grams of cocaine, two grams of which had been smoked, two pills of Adderall, and six Xanax bars before the shooting.
The defense continued having Joines confirm that the defendant asked why a doctor is looking at them. The response from investigators was, "well, the doctor's probably worried about you" to which Aldrich replied, "You guys are some of the only people who have ever cared about me in my life."
The defense finished their examination. In the re-direct, Michael Allen specifically asked if Aldrich appeared high at the hospital to which Joines replied, "no." Allen also asked if Aldrich coherently and effectively answered all questions to which Joines replied, "yes."
Allen finished the re-direct by asking if the defendant seemed to know the difference between right and wrong, carried more than 100 rounds of ammunition that night, wore body armor, and had a map drawn of Club Q's interior.
Detective Joines answered yes to everything.
The prosecution and defense rested their cases for the day and Judge Michael Henry declared a recess until 9 AM Thursday.
The preliminary hearing picked up Thursday morning with 4th judicial District Attorney Michael Allen opening with his argument as to why the court should bind all charges to Aldrich.
The evidence Allen gave was Aldrich's administrative rights in a neo-nazi website, an image showing a rifle scope targeted on gay pride parade attendees, and a map with a 2 1/2 mile radius showing 50 bars and the one target was LGBTQ+ friendly space.
The defense called for counts 150-154 related to attempted murder to be dropped as little evidence of the victim being present during the shooting was presented. The defense also argued to drop the bias-motivated crimes.
The defense argues that bias-motivated crimes should not be considered as the evidence presented by the prosecution does not add up. The defense argues that after a thorough investigation, hate speech and manifestos have not been found. What is there, is offensive, derogatory, and offensive language in a gaming community.
While Aldrich was the administrator of the neo-nazi site the defense argued Aldrich did not create this video.
The defense argued that the behavior and remorse shown by Aldrich are other examples.
In re-direct, Michael Allen argued that the court should not take Aldrich's behavior in this manner as it does not pertain to the case at this moment. Also arguing that the shooter's action on the night of the shooting, blaming the shooting on other club-goers at the time of the shooting showed signs of no remorse.
After hearing both sides, Judge Michael McHenry found that the prosecution had presented enough evidence to prove probable cause and motivation. The court bound all 323 charges to Aldrich. McHenry, also upheld no bond in Aldrich's case.
The arraignment hearing was pushed out four months. The decision came following the defense's request for this amount of time to other high-profile cases the defense will be working on.
Judge McHenry pushed for it to be sooner. However, after hearing arguments with defense preparation, McHenry made it known he felt this case will reach trial sooner if both the defense and prosecution are prepared.
In the arrangement set for May 30th, 2023 Aldrich will hear the charges and potential sentencing. We will hear a guilty or not-guilty plea from Aldrich and the court will set up the proceedings for the jury trial.
The evidence presented by the prosecution and defense has been released to the public eye. That being said much of the imagery presented is extremely graphic in nature. News5 has made the decision to omit the imagery from this article, however, if you would like to view it, you can follow the link below. WARNING MANY OF THE IMAGES ARE DISTRESSING AND SOME FEATURE VICTIMS OF THE SCENE.
2022CR6008 People v. Aldrich: The exhibits entered by the district attorney and public defender for the preliminary hearing and have been unsuppressed by the Court and are now posted. https://t.co/EXROThefkM— CO Courts (@CoCourts) February 23, 2023
News5 will have updated coverage tonight on News5 nightly news and will continue to update this article live tomorrow as the preliminary hearing enters day two of testimony.
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