People visit a makeshift memorial near the Club Q nightclub on Nov. 22, 2022, in Colorado Springs. On Nov. 19, a 22-year-old gunman entered the LGBTQ nightclub and opened fire, killing five people before being tackled and disarmed by a club patron. (Scott Olson / Getty Images)
The person accused of killing five people at an LGBTQ night club in Colorado Springs in November pleaded guilty Monday to five counts of first-degree murder and 46 counts of attempted first-degree murder and will spend the rest of their life in prison.
Anderson Lee Aldrich, 23, was sentenced to five consecutive terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole, per a plea deal. For the attempted first-degree murder charges, they were sentenced to 46 consecutive 48-year sentences, totaling 2,208 years.
“I intentionally and after deliberation caused the death of each victim listed in those counts,” they said in an El Paso County district court room.
The five people murdered were Daniel Aston, 28, Kelly Loving, 40, Ashley Paugh, 35, Derrick Rump, 38, and Raymond Green Vance, 22.
Aldrich also pleaded “no contest” to two hate crime charges, allowing them to avoid a factual admission of guilt. El Paso County District Attorney Michael Allen told the judge there is evidence that Aldrich targeted the LGBTQ club as a hate crime.
In an interview with the Associated Press earlier this month, Aldrich said they had to take responsibility for what they did but denied that the attack was motivated by bias and hate towards the LGBTQ community.
“When you commit a hate crime, you are targeting a group of people for their simple existence,” El Paso District Judge Michael McHenry said before handing down the sentence. “Hate crimes are worse than other crimes. Like too many other people in our culture, you chose to find a power that day behind the trigger of a gun. Your actions reflect the deepest malice of the human heart.”
Victims and survivors were able to address Aldrich in the courtroom on Monday.
Aldrich began shooting immediately after entering the club around midnight on Nov. 19, 2022. Patrons, including Richard Fierro, subdued and disarmed Aldrich, who has been incarcerated since then.
Fierro has been lauded as a hero and was recognized by Gov. Jared Polis at this year’s State of the State address. Fierro attended this year’s State of the Union as a guest of Democratic U.S. Rep. Jason Crow of Centennial.
Club Q’s Facebook page offered a statement before the sentencing supporting an “expedient resolution.”
“It is our hope that the deliverance of justice will allow victims and survivors to foster healing, find closure and begin to find peace,” the statement read. “It’s quite evident that the defendant deserves to live life in prison without possibility of parole, and we look forward to having justice delivered.”
It is still unclear whether prosecutors will file federal hate crime charges against Aldrich.
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