COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — An El Paso County, Colorado, judge on Thursday unsealed a 2021 case involving Anderson Aldrich, who is accused of fatally shooting five people and injuring 17 at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs.
Defense attorney Joseph Archambault argued that if the case were unsealed, it would destroy his client’s chance at a fair trial.
Archambault also argued that the 2021 case against Aldrich involved only allegations, and that nothing was ever proved “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Prosecutors did not pursue formal charges in the case, in which Aldrich was accused of making a bomb threat.
An attorney representing Lauren Voepel, Aldrich’s mother, spoke to the court via video opposing the request to unseal the 2021 case. Archambault said Aldrich’s grandparents, the Pullens, had spoken to him and said they also did not want the 2021 case unsealed.
Despite the opposition from the defense and Aldrich’s family, who are listed as victims in the 2021 case, Judge Robin Chittum ruled that the public interest “greatly outweighed” Aldrich’s right to privacy and a fair trial.
Chittum also denied a request to stay her ruling while the defense filed an appeal with the Colorado Supreme Court.
Chittum took under advisement a request to have El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder held in contempt for what the defense described as “hoodwinking” the court into holding a public hearing on the case. Chittum said she would issue a ruling on the contempt motion in the next few days.
Aldrich, 22, appeared in court Thursday wearing in a yellow jail shirt, and did not say a word before being escorted out of the courtroom at the end of the hearing.
Following Chittum’s ruling, the documents for the 2021 case will be posted online. 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office spokesperson Howard Black said prosecutors would hold a news conference Thursday afternoon at the District Attorney’s Office to discuss the case further.
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said via social media that it would release a public statement on the investigation.
Aldrich, who identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns, was arrested last year at their grandparents’ home in Colorado Springs after Aldrich claimed to have a bomb and said they were planning to use it, according to previous reporting from The Gazette.
In arrest records for the incident obtained by Gazette news partner KKTV, Aldrich expressed hope to become “the next mass shooter” and wanted to “go out in a blaze.”
In a video believed to be a livestream of the incident obtained by The Gazette, a person believed to be Aldrich is seen wearing body armor and a helmet while toting what appears to be a rifle as that person moved between rooms. What appears to be a handgun on the bed comes into view as the suspect directs profanities at deputies outside the home.
“If they breach, I’m-a (expletive) blow it to holy hell,” the suspect can be heard saying about law enforcement. “Go ahead and come on in, boys. Let’s (expletive) see it.”
Aldrich faces 305 charges — including 10 counts of first-degree murder, 86 counts of attempted first-degree murder and 48 counts of bias motivated crime — in the Nov. 19 shooting at Club Q.
Aldrich is being held at the El Paso County jail without bond.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox
Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.