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Colorado Gay Nightclub Shooter Expected to Reach Plea Deal, Accept Responsibility

by Gabriel Martinez
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plea deal

According to survivors who spoke with The Big Big News, the suspect involved in a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs is expected to strike a plea deal on state murder and hate charges. This agreement would ensure a minimum life sentence for the attack that claimed the lives of five individuals and left 17 wounded.

The news of a potential legal resolution follows a series of jailhouse phone calls made by the suspect to the AP, expressing remorse and a willingness to face the consequences during the upcoming court hearing this month. In their first public comments about the case, the 23-year-old suspect, Anderson Lee Aldrich, stated, “I have to take responsibility for what happened.”

While federal and state authorities, as well as defense attorneys, have declined to comment on the potential plea deal, Colorado law requires victims to be notified about such agreements. Several individuals who lost loved ones or were injured in the attack have revealed that state prosecutors have informed them in advance about Aldrich’s planned guilty plea, which would result in a maximum state sentence of life imprisonment.

Prosecutors have also requested that survivors prepare victim-impact statements and mentally prepare themselves for the possible release of the surveillance video of the attack at Club Q during the hearing scheduled for June 26.

The devastating loss experienced by the community is evident, as Wyatt Kent, who was celebrating his birthday at Club Q during the shooting, expressed, “Someone’s gone that can never be brought back through the justice system… We are all still missing a lot, a partner, a son, a daughter, a best friend.”

Jonathan Pullen, the suspect’s step-grandfather, plans to watch the upcoming hearing on a livestream, and he believes that Aldrich is gradually comprehending the gravity of what transpired that night.

Aldrich is facing more than 300 state charges, including murder and hate crimes. The U.S. Justice Department is also considering filing federal hate crime charges, although it is unclear whether the expected resolution of the state prosecution will address the ongoing FBI investigation.

Some survivors, who listened to the suspect’s recorded comments to the AP, criticized them as a calculated attempt to avoid the federal death penalty. They felt that the suspect’s remarks fell short of addressing the motive and instead placed much of the blame on drugs. The survivors argued that the suspect’s language contradicted the evidence of extensive planning and premeditation, such as maps, diagrams, and online rants.

Michael Anderson, a bartender at Club Q during the shooting, stated, “No one has sympathy for him… This community has to live with what happened, with collective trauma, with PTSD, trying to grieve the loss of our friends, to move past emotional wounds and move past what we heard, saw, and smelled.”

The horrifying incident occurred shortly before midnight on November 19, when the suspect entered Club Q, a longstanding safe haven for the LGBTQ community in the predominantly conservative city. Indiscriminately firing an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle, the suspect caused panic, with partygoers seeking cover amidst the chaos. It was only after a Navy petty officer and an Army veteran intervened, subduing the suspect, that the shooting came to an end.

The suspect, who now identifies as nonbinary and uses the pronouns they and them, had reportedly visited Club Q at least six times in the years leading up to the attack. The suspect’s mother allegedly compelled Aldrich to go to the club against their will, forcing them into a culture they resisted.

Defense attorneys have not contested Aldrich’s role in the shooting, but they have pushed back against claims that it was motivated by hate. They argue that the suspect was under the influence of cocaine and medication on the night of the attack.

In a previous incident, just months prior to the Club Q shooting, Aldrich was involved in a standoff with a SWAT team during a kidnapping arrest. Despite video evidence of their crimes, the charges were dismissed and sealed. Relatives had warned a judge that Aldrich was likely to commit murder if released, but the case was ultimately dismissed due to the family’s lack of cooperation.

The AP reached out to Aldrich, who requested payment for an interview, which was declined. In subsequent phone calls, the suspect expressed that nothing could bring back the victims and acknowledged the potential outcomes of their case: either the federal death penalty or life imprisonment.

While it is unusual for the AP to provide a platform for someone accused of such a crime, they deemed the suspect’s stated intent to accept responsibility and their expression of remorse as newsworthy and deserving of reporting.

Survivors, including former Club Q bartender Anderson, have expressed their desire for a swift resolution to the criminal case, hoping for closure and justice to aid in their healing process.


AP Writer Colleen Slevin in Denver contributed to this report. For inquiries, contact AP’s global investigative team at [email protected].

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about plea deal

What is the latest development in the Colorado gay nightclub shooting case?

The latest development in the Colorado gay nightclub shooting case is that the suspect is expected to strike a plea deal for state murder and hate charges. This plea deal would likely result in a life sentence for the suspect, ensuring a severe punishment for the attack that claimed five lives and injured 17 individuals.

Will the plea deal resolve both state and federal charges?

It is unclear whether the anticipated plea deal in the state prosecution will also resolve the ongoing federal investigation. While the suspect faces over 300 state counts, including murder and hate crimes, the U.S. Justice Department is considering filing federal hate crime charges. The resolution of the state prosecution may not automatically address the federal charges.

What has been the reaction of the survivors and victims’ families?

Survivors and victims’ families have mixed reactions to the suspect’s expected plea deal. Some have expressed their desire for a swift resolution to the case, hoping for closure and justice. However, some survivors have criticized the suspect’s remorseful statements as a calculated attempt to avoid the federal death penalty. They believe the suspect’s remarks downplay the planning and premeditation involved in the attack.

How did the shooting unfold at the gay nightclub?

The shooting occurred at Club Q, a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs. The suspect entered the club and indiscriminately fired an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle, causing panic among the attendees. The shooting continued until a Navy petty officer and an Army veteran intervened, subduing the suspect and putting an end to the violence.

Was the attack motivated by hate?

The motive behind the attack is still a subject of debate. While some survivors and evidence suggest that the attack was motivated by hate, defense attorneys have argued that the suspect was heavily influenced by drugs, including cocaine and medication, on the night of the shooting. The suspect has not directly addressed the motive, leaving it a point of contention in the case.

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1 comment

JimmyBoy33 June 15, 2023 - 3:20 pm

wow! dis is a heavy story, man. i mean, the suspect, like, gonna take a deal for the shooting in da gay nightclub. dat’s sum scary stuff. hope justice is served!

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