Club Q shooter to plead guilty to 74 federal charges including hate crimes in exchange for dropping the death penalty

· Jan. 16, 2024, 2:56 pm
Club Q Shooting Court Appearance Plea 2023062Club Q Shooting Court Appearance Plea 2023062Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
A dried bouquet of flowers blows in the wind in the parking lot of Club Q in Colorado Springs on Monday, June 26, 2023.

Updated at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 16, 2024.

Federal prosecutors on Tuesday filed 74 charges against the person who killed five people and injured 19 others at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ club in 2022 — including 50 hate crime charges.

Documents filed Tuesday in federal court indicate that the convicted shooter intends to plead guilty to the federal charges in exchange for an agreement that federal prosecutors will not seek the death penalty. In that agreement, Anderson Lee Aldrich, now 23, will serve “multiple concurrent life sentences.”

“The parties have agreed that multiple concurrent life sentences plus a consecutive sentence of 190 years imprisonment is sufficient but not greater than necessary to achieve the goals of criminal justice,” federal prosecutors said in a court filing.

The shooter is already serving five consecutive life sentences in prison without the chance of parole for their guilty plea in state court last year. Colorado doesn’t have a death penalty. 

Aldrich’s state attorneys have indicated in court filings that they are non-binary and use they/them pronouns. 

The shooter appeared in court on Tuesday via web stream wearing an orange jumpsuit with their attorney, David Krautt. The tentative agreement in filings means that, if accepted, this case will not to go to federal trial. 

“It’s angering and upsetting,” said Ashtin Gamblin, who was working at the front door at Club Q the night Aldrich opened fire inside. Gamblin, 30, attended the federal court hearing on Tuesday in Denver. “Honestly I was hoping for a death penalty. I feel like [they] just got grounded, personally, it feels like with the 2,208 years, it’s like [they] got grounded, go sit in your room for the rest of your life. The death penalty for me … I just want [them] to sit with the thought of not knowing when [they're] going to die, or the fact [they] could die at any day, at any time, because that’s exactly what [they] did to us.”

Aldrich faces 50 hate crimes charges, including use of a firearm to willfully cause bodily injury and attempting to kill. And the shooter faces additional charges for use of a firearm to commit a crime of violence. 

Federal magistrate Scott Varholak read the charges aloud to the shooter and their attorney. U.S. Attorney Cole Finegan was in attendance in the front row, though declined to comment on the ongoing case.

These charges do carry possible death penalty sentences, but that will not be sought as a result of the deal reached by prosecutors, court documents say. 

The feds announced last week they will seek the death penalty in another mass shooting case with hate crimes charges in Buffalo, New York.

Aldrich will serve multiple concurrent life sentences plus additional consecutive sentences totaling 190 years of imprisonment. 

Five people were killed in the November 2022 shooting — Raymond Green Vance, 22; Daniel Aston, 28; Ashley Paugh, 35; Derrick Rump, 38; and Kelly Loving, 40. An additional 17 patrons at the bar were shot.

The shooter is currently at the Wyoming State Penitentiary, a move the Department of Corrections said was due to safety concerns surrounding the high-profile case. According to the Wyoming Department of Corrections website, the facility houses male offenders.

Club Q has remained closed since the shooting. 

Club spokesperson Michael Anderson said in a statement that he is grateful for the district attorney and pleased with the federal decision to bring hate charges.

“Every single person in our country is to be guaranteed the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. What the shooter chose to do on Nov. 19, 2022, was a malicious and bigoted act of violence meant to deprive countless lives of those rights – including my own,” Anderson said. “While justice cannot undo the bullets fired, lives forever changed, and friends we’ve lost on that horrific night, I hope these additional charges will serve as a deterrent from any other individual seeking to commit violence.”

Last fall, current owners announced plans to reopen in a new location, leaving the spot where it operated for more than 20 years. Initially, there were plans to renovate and rebuild the club at the site of the shooting, but pushback from some survivors prompted the change. The club will also have a new name: The Q. An official opening date has not been announced, but Q spokesman Michael Anderson said the space "will seek to provide a safe, affirming, and inclusive environment."

Gamblin, standing outside the federal courthouse in Denver, said she was on a “road to recovery” and has been cooperating with federal prosecutors. 

She said she told them that she wished there was a death penalty being sought in this case.

“I’m very sure they’re tired of hearing from me,” said Gamblin. “I wish this was a death penalty state. It’s a long-standing opinion.”

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