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The suspect in a mass shooting last month at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ+ nightclub has been charged with 305 criminal counts, including hate crimes, murder and attempted murder.
Prosecutors filed the charges against 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich in court Tuesday, weeks after authorities allege the suspect opened fire at Club Q, killing five people and wounding 17 others in a hail of bullets, according to The Denver Post.
Aldrich is now facing 10 counts of first-degree murder, 86 counts of attempted first-degree murder, 48 counts of bias-motivated crimes and 90 counts of assault for the Nov. 19 shooting. Prosecutors also filed 71 sentence enhancers against Aldrich, which would allow them to pursue harsher punishments if the suspect is found guilty of the crimes.
“I think the message that we sent is obviously when you file 305 counts in a case, that tells the public, this community, this state and this nation that we are taking this case as serious as we possibly can, meaning that we are going to prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the law,” District Attorney Michael Allen said in a press conference held after the hearing.
He added that authorities were “not going to tolerate actions against community members based on their sexual identity.”
“Members of that community have been harassed, intimidated and abused for too long,” he said.
During the hearing, Aldrich — who, according to court filings by his attorneys, identifies as non-binary and uses they/them pronouns — sat upright in the Colorado Springs courtroom Tuesday as the charges were officially filed against them, The Associated Press reports.
During their earlier hearing last month, a battered and bruised Aldrich had been slumped in a chair and had to be prompted by his attorneys to answer questions, but seemed more attentive during Tuesday’s proceedings.
El Paso County District Court Judge Michael McHenry also ordered the arrest warrant affidavit in the case to be unsealed and made available to the public by the end of the day Wednesday.
Aldrich’s attorneys had objected to the move, arguing in court that releasing the affidavit could impair their client’s ability to get a fair trial.
On the night of Nov. 19, patrons at the club had been enjoying a drag show when the gunfire erupted, sending terrified customers dropping to the ground and trying to flee.
Two men were credited with thwarting the suspect by tackling them to the ground and beating the shooter with their own pistol until police could arrive.
The mass shooting came just one day before an annual day of remembrance for transgender people.
Authorities have identified the five victims who lost their lives as Daniel Aston, 28; Kelly Loving, 40; Ashley Paugh, 35; Derrick Rump, 38; and Raymond Green Vance, 22.
Colorado Springs Police said last week that another 17 people were injured “because of a gunshot” while an additional five people were injured for other reasons during the melee.
They described an additional 12 people as being “a victim with no visible injuries.”
The investigation at the scene of the club was completed on Nov. 25 and police subsequently released the building back into possession of the club’s owners.
Allen said a preliminary hearing in the case has been scheduled to begin on Feb. 22.
“That will be the first glimpse into some of the investigation that has occurred already in this case and some of the investigation that will occur down the road,” he said.
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