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Man arrested on murder, hate crime charges in deadly shooting at Colorado gay nightclub

Nov. 21, 2022 Updated Mon., Nov. 21, 2022 at 9:01 p.m.

By Alexandra E. Petri, Kevin Rector and Jack Dolan Los Angeles Times

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – A man suspected of killing five people and injuring 25 others in a shooting at a gay nightclub in Colorado has been arrested on murder and hate crime charges, according to court records.

The man, identified by police as Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, was arrested Monday on five counts of murder and five counts of bias-motivated hate crimes causing bodily injury, court records show. Police say he opened fire at Club Q in Colorado Springs just before midnight Saturday. He was quickly subdued by others at the club and taken into custody when police arrived a few minutes after receiving a call, authorities said.

“Those charges will be heavily investigated, and once that investigation is complete, (the district attorney’s office) will determine formal charges,” said Jessica Ramirez, an assistant in the district attorney’s office in Colorado Springs. “When formal charges are filed, we will be sure to make public notification. At this time we have not investigated whether it is hate crime-related, but all that will be considered in the investigative process.”

“At least two heroic people” confronted the gunman and stopped the shooting, said Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez. “We owe them a great debt of thanks.”

One of the people in the bar took a handgun from the shooter and hit him with it, Suthers said in an interview with CNN.

Suthers called it an “incredible act of heroism.”

Of the 25 people injured, 19 have gunshot wounds, Suthers said. None of those is “deemed truly critical,” the mayor said.

A patron who was in the bar told local station KRDO-TV Channel 13: “As I was dancing on the dance floor, I heard shots fired. I thought it was the music because there were no screams. There was no, ‘Help, help.’ ”

When he realized what was going on, he ran into a dressing room where he and others locked the door, turned out the lights and got on the floor.

“We heard everything. We heard more shots fired. We heard the assailant being beat up by someone that I assume had tackled him. We heard the police come in, we heard them yelling at him,” the patron said.

“All I could think about is everything, my life,” he said before breaking down in tears.

Keoni Moore, 20, who identifies as nonbinary, is a DJ who worked at Club Q before recently moving to another club just across the street.

He was at work Saturday night and realized something was wrong when he heard sirens and saw ambulances arriving at Club Q.

As of Sunday afternoon, he had heard that two friends and former co-workers had been killed.

He said they were warm, welcoming and funny – and helped make Club Q what it was.

“It was very welcoming,” he said. “Every time you came in, whether you were new or had been there for so long, there was never a stuck-up feeling like you don’t belong.”

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, who in 2018 became the first out gay man in the United States to be elected governor, said, “My heart breaks for the family and friends of those lost, injured and traumatized in this horrific shooting.”

The gunman used an AR-15-style semiautomatic weapon in the shooting, the Associated Press reported. A handgun and ammunition magazines were also recovered at the scene, authorities said.

Investigators are looking into whether the suspect purchased the AR-15-style rifle himself legally.

Polis ordered all flags on all public buildings in Colorado to be flown at half-staff for five days, beginning at sunrise Monday until sunset Saturday, to honor each of the five who died.

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