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Shooting suspect in killing of five people at LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado held without bail

Of the 17 people injured by gunshots in the attack, 11 remained in hospital as of last night, officials said.

Anderson Lee Aldrich
Anderson Lee Aldrich
Image: AP/PA Images

THE ALLEGED SHOOTER facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub has been ordered to be held without bail.

In an initial court appearance yesterday, the suspect sat slumped over in a chair with injuries visible on their face and head.

Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, who identifies as non-binary, appeared to need prompting by defence lawyers during a brief video appearance from jail.

Aldrich offered a slurred response when asked to state their name by El Paso County Court Judge Charlotte Ankeny.

The suspect was beaten into submission by patrons during Saturday night’s shooting at Club Q and released from hospital on Tuesday.

The motive in the shooting is still under investigation, but authorities said Aldrich faces possible murder and hate crime charges.

Hate crime charges would require proving that the shooter was motivated by bias, such as against the victims’ actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The charges against Aldrich are preliminary, and prosecutors have not yet filed formal charges.

Defence lawyers said late on Tuesday that the suspect is nonbinary and court filings referred to the suspect as “Mx Aldrich”. The lawyers’ footnotes assert that Aldrich is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns.

Prosecutor Michael Allen repeatedly referred to the suspect as “he” during a press briefing after the hearing and said the suspect’s gender status would not change anything about the case in his opinion. Allen said Aldrich was “physically competent” to stand charges.

Ankeny set the next hearing for 6 December.

Of the 17 people injured by gunshots in the attack, 11 remained in hospital as of last night, officials said.

The weekend assault took place at a nightclub known as a sanctuary for the LGBTQ community in a mostly conservative city of about 480,000, roughly 112 kilometres south of Denver.

The attack was halted by two club patrons including Richard Fierro, who told reporters that he took a handgun from Aldrich, hit them with it and pinned them down with help from another person until police arrived.

The victims were Raymond Green Vance, 22, a Colorado Springs native who was saving money to get his own apartment; Ashley Paugh, 35, a mother who helped find homes for foster children; Daniel Aston, 28, who had worked at the club as a bartender and entertainer; Kelly Loving, 40, whose sister described her as “caring and sweet”; and Derrick Rump, 38, another club bartender known for his wit.

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