Club Q Shooter Expected to Strike Plea Deal

'I have to take responsibility for what happened,' says Anderson Lee Aldrich
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 15, 2023 4:38 AM CDT
Club Q Shooter Expected to Strike Plea Deal
Memorials are displayed outside Club Q, the LGBTQ nightclub that was the site of a deadly 2022 shooting that killed five people, on Wednesday, June 7, 2023 in Colorado Springs, Colo.   (AP Photo/Chet Strange)

The suspect in a mass shooting at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is expected to strike a plea deal to state murder and hate charges that would ensure at least a life sentence for the attack that killed five people and wounded 17, several survivors told the AP. Word of a possible legal resolution to last year’s Club Q massacre follows a series of jailhouse phone calls from the suspect to the AP expressing remorse and the intention to face the consequences at the next scheduled court hearing this month. "I have to take responsibility for what happened," 23-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich said in their first public comments about the case.

Federal and state authorities and defense attorneys declined to comment on a possible plea deal. But Colorado law requires victims to be notified of such deals, and several people who lost loved ones or were wounded in the attack told the AP that state prosecutors have given them advance word that Aldrich will plead guilty to charges that would ensure the maximum state sentence of life behind bars. Prosecutors also recently asked survivors to prepare for the June 26 hearing by writing victim-impact statements and steeling themselves emotionally for the possible release of the Club Q surveillance video of the attack.

Aldrich faces more than 300 state counts, including murder and hate crimes. And the US Justice Department is considering filing federal hate crime charges, according to a senior law enforcement official familiar with the matter who spoke to AP on condition of anonymity. It’s unclear whether the anticipated resolution to the state prosecution will also resolve the ongoing FBI investigation. Defense attorneys in previous hearings have not disputed Aldrich’s role in the shooting but have pushed back against allegations that the shooting was motivated by hate, arguing the suspect was drugged up on cocaine and medication the night of the attack.

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In a series of six calls to the AP, each limited by an automated jail phone system to 15 minutes, the suspect said: "Nothing’s ever going to bring back their loved ones. People are going to have to live with injury that can’t be repaired." Asked why it happened, they said, “I don’t know. That’s why I think it’s so hard to comprehend that it did happen." Some survivors who listened to the comments lambasted them as a calculated attempt to avoid the federal death penalty, noting they stopped short of discussing a motive, put much of the blame on drugs, and characterized the crime in passive terms such as "I just can’t believe what happened." Such language, they said, belied the maps, diagrams, online rants, and other evidence that showed months of plotting and premeditation.

(More Club Q shooting stories.)

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