The suspect accused of entering a US state of Colorado gay nightclub clad in body armor and opening fire with an AR-15-style rifle, killing five people and wounding 17 others, was charged by prosecutors with 305 criminal counts including hate crimes and murder, AP reported.
The counts against Anderson Lee Aldrich include 48 hate crime charges, one for each person known to have been in the club at the time.
Investigators say Aldrich, 22, entered Club Q, a sanctuary for the LGBTQ community in the mostly conservative city of Colorado Springs, just before midnight on November 19 and began shooting during a drag queen’s birthday celebration. The killing stopped after patrons wrestled the suspect to the ground, beating Aldrich into submission, they said.
Club Q’s co-owner, Matthew Haynes, said the filing of 305 charges “graphically illustrates how heinous and horrific this attack was on our community.”
Aldrich is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns, according to defense court filings. They were arrested at the club by police and have not entered a plea or spoken about the events.
District Attorney Michael Allen had noted that murder charges would carry the harshest penalty—likely life in prison—but also said it was important to show the community that bias motivated crimes are not tolerated if evidence supports the charge.
The shooting came more than a year after Aldrich was arrested following a standoff with SWAT teams after authorities say Aldrich threatened to stockpile guns, ammo, and body armor to become the “next mass killer.” But charges were dropped, the record is sealed and prosecutors say they can’t legally talk about what happened.