Charges of murder and hate crimes ” Alaska

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — The man suspected of opening fire at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub was arrested on homicide and hate crime charges Monday, two days after the attack that killed five and killed 17 people others were left with gunshot wounds.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — The man suspected of opening fire at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub was arrested on homicide and hate crime charges Monday, two days after the attack that killed five and killed 17 people others were left with gunshot wounds.

Online court filings showed 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich faced five counts of murder and five counts of committing a prejudice-motivated felony causing physical harm in Saturday night’s attack at Club Q. He remained hospitalized with unspecified injuries, police said.

The charges were preliminary and prosecutors had not brought them to court. Hate crime charges would require proof that the shooter was motivated by prejudice, such as against the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

The attack was stopped when a patron took Aldrich with a pistol, hit him with it and held him down until police arrived minutes later.

Court documents revealing what led to Aldrich’s arrest have been sealed at the request of prosecutors, who said releasing details could jeopardize the investigation. Information on whether Aldrich had an attorney was not immediately available.

A police officer said the suspect was using an AR-15-style semi-automatic weapon, but a handgun and extra ammo magazines were also seized. The officer was unable to publicly discuss details of the investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Officials clarified Monday that 18 people were injured in the attack, not 25 as they originally said. Among them was one person whose injury was not a gunshot wound. Another victim had no visible injuries, it said.

Thirteen people remained hospitalized Monday, officials said. Five people were treated and discharged.

Mayor John Suthers said there was “reason for hope” all hospital victims would recover.

Questions were quickly raised as to why authorities didn’t try to take away Aldrich’s guns in 2021, when he was arrested after his mother reported he threatened her with a homemade bomb and other weapons.

Although authorities said no explosives were found at the time, gun control advocates have questioned why police didn’t use Colorado’s “Red Flag” laws to confiscate the guns his mother allegedly had. There are no prosecutors who have ever brought criminal kidnappings and threatened charges against Aldrich.

The shooting brings back memories of the 2016 massacre at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, which killed 49 people. Colorado has seen several mass killings, including at Columbine High School in 1999, at a movie theater in suburban Denver in 2012, and at a convenience store in Boulder last year.

It was the sixth mass killing this month, and it came in a year, as the nation was rocked by the deaths of 21 in a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

The violence broke the cozy confines of an entertainment venue long valued as a safe haven for the conservative city’s LGBTQ community.

A makeshift memorial erected in the hours after the attack continued to grow Monday as a steady stream of mourners brought flowers and left messages in support of the LGBTQ community. The shooting range remained cordoned off.

“It’s a reminder that love and acceptance still have a long way to go,” said Mary Nikkel of Colorado Springs at the venue. “This growing memorial to people is saying it matters what happened to you… We just won’t let it go.”

The club was one of the few nightclubs for the LGBTQ community in Colorado Springs, local residents said. Authorities were called at 11:57 p.m. Saturday with multiple reports of a shooting, and the first officer arrived at midnight.

Joshua Thurman said he was at the club with about two dozen other people dancing when the shooting started. He initially thought it was part of the music until he heard another gunshot and said he saw the flash of a gun muzzle.

Thurman, 34, said he ran into a dressing room where he was hiding with others. They locked the door, turned off the lights and got on the ground as they heard the violence unfold, including the gunman being overpowered.

“I could have lost my life – for what?” he said, tears streaming down his cheeks. “We weren’t out there to harm anyone. We were in our space, our community, our home, enjoying ourselves like everyone else.”

Investigators checked if anyone had helped the suspect before the attack. Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said the well-wishers who intervened during the attack were “heroic” and prevented further deaths.

Club Q is a gay and lesbian nightclub that offers a drag show on Saturdays, according to its website. Club Q’s Facebook page said the planned entertainment included a “punk and alternative show” ahead of a birthday dance party with an all-ages drag brunch on Sunday.

Drag events have recently become a focus of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and protests, as opponents, including politicians, have suggested excluding children from them, falsely claiming that they are used to “grooming” children.

The shooting took place during Transgender Awareness Week and right at the start of Sunday’s Transgender Day of Remembrance, when events are held around the world to mourn and remember transgender people lost to violence.

Colorado Springs, a city of about 480,000 located 70 miles south of Denver, is home to the US Air Force Academy and the US Olympic Training Center, as well as Focus on the Family, a prominent evangelical Christian ministry campaigning against LGBTQ rights. The group condemned the shooting, saying it “shows the evil and malice in the human heart”.

In 2015, three people were killed and eight injured at a Planned Parenthood clinic in the city when a gunman targeted the clinic for performing abortions.

As of November 19, there have been 523 mass murders and 2,727 deaths in the United States, according to The Associated Press/USA Today mass murder database since 2006.

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Bedayn is a corps member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that brings journalists into local newsrooms to cover undercover topics.

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Associated Press reporters Haven Daley in Colorado Springs, Colleen Slevin in Denver, Michael Balsamo in Washington, Jamie Stengle in Dallas, Jeff McMillan in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Matthew Brown in Billings, Montana contributed.

Thomas Peipert and Jesse Bedayn, The Associated Press





































































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