Arrest affidavit unsealed in Club Q shooting case
Investigators say suspect told hospital staff ‘he had been awake for four days’
A makeshift memorial near the Club Q nightclub continues to grow on Nov. 21, 2022 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (Photo by Scott Olson / Getty Images)
Anderson Lee Aldrich, the 22-year-old suspect in last month’s mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, entered the popular LGBTQ nightclub clad in body armor and wielding an AR-15 rifle and “opened fire indiscriminately” on club patrons, investigators alleged in newly unsealed documents.
Aldrich was formally charged Tuesday on more than 300 counts including first-degree murder, attempted murder and hate crimes. Following the filing of charges, a judge ordered the release of the arrest affidavit in the case late Wednesday.
The affidavit, filed by investigators with the Colorado Springs Police Department, details the chaotic early-morning hours in the aftermath of the shooting, which began just before midnight on Nov. 19.
Investigators arriving on the scene saw a “tremendous amount of blood, medical intervention debris, and clothing items scattered directly outside of the club,” Detective Jason Gasper wrote in the affidavit.
Matthew Haynes, an owner of Club Q, provided detectives with building surveillance videos showing a man matching Aldrich’s appearance arriving at the club in a vehicle later confirmed to be registered to Aldrich. A still image included in the affidavit shows a man opening fire with a rifle just inside the club entrance.
Five people were killed in the attack, and 17 others suffered gunshot wounds. The shooting came amid a nationwide wave of violence, intimidation and harassment against LGBTQ people by right-wing extremists, and several of the deceased victims have been identified by family and friends as members of the LGBTQ community.
The affidavit contains only information uncovered by CSPD detectives in the very earliest stages of their investigation, leading to Aldrich’s arrest on suspicion of murder and hate crimes on the morning of Nov. 20. Michael Allen, the 4th Judicial District attorney, expressed confidence Tuesday that prosecutors have “enough evidence to satisfy our burden on bias-motivated offenses.”
“We’re not going to tolerate actions against community members based on their sexual identity,” Allen said. “Members of that community have been harassed, intimidated and abused for too long.”
Aldrich was confronted and beaten by two club patrons, Thomas James and Richard Fierro, and transported from the scene to the hospital. Aldrich’s injuries were so severe that initial reports suggested that the suspect “may have sustained a gunshot wound to the head,” the affidavit says.
“Richard Fierro also stated the suspect appeared to have multiple rifle magazines because he heard him re-load after the first volley of gunfire and even (threw) a magazine away from the suspect when he was fighting with him on the ground,” investigators wrote.
Officers stationed at the hospital “overheard Anderson tell medical staff he was sorry and he had been awake for four days,” they told investigators.
‘Next mass killer’
The affidavit also recounts CSPD’s initial contact with Laura Voepel, Aldrich’s mother, at the apartment where they both lived. Voepel told detectives “she and Anderson were going to go to a movie at (10:00 p.m.) but Anderson left on an errand he told her would only take 15 minutes,” investigators said.
Voepel also claimed that Aldrich didn’t possess any weapons other than a pocket knife. Later that night, she was arrested outside the apartment on a charge of disorderly conduct, but the affidavit unsealed Wednesday doesn’t detail what led to her arrest.
Voepel was present in a 2021 incident in which Aldrich threatened to harm her and other family members, detailing plans to stockpile ammunition and explosives and become “the next mass killer,” according to law enforcement documents obtained by an AP investigation. Aldrich was arrested after a tense standoff with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, but charges in the case were later dropped.
Documents pertaining to that case remain under seal. There is no record that any member of Aldrich’s family or law enforcement agency filed for an extreme risk protection order under Colorado’s “red flag” law following the 2021 incident.
A spokesperson for Colorado Gov. Jared Polis told the AP that the details of the 2021 incident made clear that the state’s red flag law “could have and should have been utilized, which would have removed the suspect’s firearms and could very well have prevented this tragedy.”
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