The suspect in the deadly LGBTQ nightclub shooting in Colorado Springs, Colo., made his first court appearance by video Wednesday and was held without bail.
In a brief video appearance from the jail, 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich could be seen slumped in a chair, flanked by two defense attorneys.
The attorneys had to ask their client when El Paso County Court Judge Charlotte Ankeny asked Anderson to state their name and if they understood their constitutional rights.
With visible injuries on the side of his face, Aldrich replied in slurred, hushed tones. The lawyers waived reading a notice of the rights, charges and penalties in the case.
Ankeny set the next hearing for December 6 at 8.30 with judge Michael McHenry.
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The court appearance came after defense attorneys said late Tuesday that their client is non-binary and in court documents referred to the suspect as “Mx. Aldrich.” The lawyers’ footnotes claim that Aldrich uses they/them pronouns.
The suspect was beaten into submission by patrons during the shooting Saturday night and released from the hospital Tuesday. The motive for the shooting was still under investigation, but authorities said Anderson is facing possible murder and hate crime charges.
The charges against Aldrich are preliminary, and the prosecutor’s office has not yet brought formal charges.
Later Wednesday, the Colorado Springs Police Department released a photo of the suspect, showing Anderson visibly beaten.
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Local and federal authorities have declined to answer questions about why hate crime charges were considered. District Attorney Michael Allen noted that the murder charges would carry the most severe penalty — life in prison — while bias crimes are eligible for probation.
He also said it was important to show society that crimes motivated by bias will not be tolerated.
Aldrich was arrested last year after their mother reported her child threatened her with a homemade bomb and other weapons. Authorities said at the time that no explosives were found, but gun control advocates have questioned why police did not use Colorado’s “red flag” laws to seize the weapons Aldrich’s mother says her child had.
Allen refused to answer questions related to the 2021 bomb threat after Wednesday’s court hearing.
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Authorities said Aldrich was wielding a long rifle and was stopped by two club patrons, including Richard Fierro, who told reporters he took a gun from Aldrich, hit them with it and restrained them with the help of another person until police arrived.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.