A suspect accused of killing five people in a mass shooting at a Colorado gay nightclub over the weekend identifies as non-binary, public defenders have said.
The charges against Anderson Lee Aldrich include five counts of m*rder and five counts of hate crime related to a rampage at Club Q in Colorado Springs that also injured more than a dozen people.
Court papers filed by the defense on Tuesday say Aldrich, 22, uses the pronouns they/them. The imprisoned Aldrich is due to attend a video hearing on Wednesday in his first court appearance since his arrest.
Authorities have not publicly disclosed the motive for the shooting. Hate crime counts against Aldrich, claiming they committed a bias crime causing bodily injury, though officials have not clarified these allegations and court records are sealed.
“It has all the hallmarks of a hate crime, but we need to look at social media, we need to look at all other types of information … before we can make any final conclusions about motive,” said Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers. Monday on NBC’s Today.
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Police say the massacre began shortly before midnight on Saturday and could have been worse had two customers not fought off the shooter before authorities arrived. These patrons were identified as Rich Fierro, an Army veteran, and Thomas James, a Colorado Springs naval officer.
“We owe them a great debt of gratitude,” said Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez on Sunday.
Fierro was at a bar with his daughter Kassy and her boyfriend Raymond Green Vance. Vance, 22, was one of five victims of the shooting.
Other victims who died were identified by relatives as Club Q employees Derrick Rump, 38, and Daniel Aston, 28, and customers Kelly Loving, 40, and Ashley Paugh, 35. Officials hope all of the hospitalized victims will survive.
Shooting began minutes before the start of Transgender Remembrance Day, which commemorates transgender people killed as a result of discriminatory hatred and violence. Club Q had a Sunday brunch scheduled to commemorate the day.
Aldrich was arrested last year after allegedly threatening his mother with a weapon, including a homemade b*mb. Police did not say why authorities did not seize any weapons under the state’s “red flag” law.
From News Wire Services
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