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27 Jun, 2023 02:48

Shooter in gay nightclub attack gets 2,200-year sentence

Anderson Lee Aldrich, who killed five people in Colorado last year, will go to prison for life
Shooter in gay nightclub attack gets 2,200-year sentence

The man who killed five people and injured nearly two-dozen others during a mass shooting at a Colorado LGBT+ club last year has been handed multiple life sentences, in addition to an extra 2,208 years behind bars for attempted murder. 

Anderson Lee Aldrich, 23, was sentenced on Monday after pleading guilty to a total of 51 counts related to the shooting rampage at Club Q in Colorado Springs last November. The charges include five for first-degree murder and another 46 for attempted homicide, some deemed “bias-motivated,” which are akin to hate crimes.

“That is the longest sentence ever achieved in the Fourth Judicial District and the second, to my knowledge, longest sentence ever achieved in the state of Colorado,” Fourth Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen told reporters.

The shooting took place late on November 19, 2022, when Aldrich, clad in body armor, opened fire in the LGBTQ nightclub with a rifle and handgun. The attack was stopped when patrons pinned the gunman to the ground and took away his weapons.

Aldrich, who told the court he identifies as ‘non-binary,’ was initially charged with 323 counts, but accepted a plea bargain to avoid a potentially lengthy trial. He did not speak during the sentencing hearing, but defense attorney Joseph Archambault said “they are deeply remorseful” for the shooting.

While Colorado has ended the death penalty, Aldrich could still face capital punishment should prosecutors opt to charge him under federal statutes. The federal probe into the attack is ongoing. 

The assailant was known to authorities in the months prior to the rampage, having been arrested in June 2021 after Aldrich’s mother reported that he threatened to set off a bomb and otherwise harm her, according to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. That case was later dismissed after Aldrich’s mother declined to testify against him. 

The Club Q shooting mirrors a 2016 massacre at a LGBTQ bar in Orlando, Florida, in which a gunman killed 49 people and injured 53 others before he was shot dead by the police. During a stand-off with law enforcement before he was neutralized, the attacker, Omar Mateen, declared his allegiance to the Islamic State terrorist group, leading the FBI to label the shooting as a terrorist attack.