Victim confronts Colorado Springs gay nightclub killer, calls him monster, coward

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Nearly 20 victims are one by one in court to face the man who pleaded guilty to killing five and seriously injuring 17 in last year’s nightclub attack. stood in A haven for the LGBTQ+ community in Colorado Springs.

Some cried, others flared with anger. They called him a coward, a monster, a terrorist.

The families, friends and survivors of the dead who witnessed Anderson Lee Aldrich unleash his terror at Club Q a week before Thanksgiving will be ruined or changed at Monday’s emotional hearing. He assured Aldrich that he would not be sentenced to life without facing the truth of his many lost lives. .

“This monster that was next to me invaded the safe places of my workplace and community and started hunting us down as if our lives were meaningless,” he said that night. Michael Anderson, who was a bartender, said. “He has shattered this community beyond repair.”

Aldrich pleaded guilty in state court to five counts of murder and 46 counts of attempted murder (one for each member of Club Q during the raid). Aldrich also did not contest the two hate crimes.

Survivors and relatives of the dead provided hours of harrowing testimony, recounting the recurring trauma they experienced and how it affected their work and mental health. . One person expressed forgiveness for Ms. Aldrich, while another said the woman whose daughter’s boyfriend was killed told Ms. Aldrich, “The devil is waiting for her with open arms.”

Many of the speakers said they wished the death penalty remained in Colorado so that Aldrich could get the death penalty.Some lamented the widespread gun violence in the United States

Veteran Richard Fierro, who worked with others to stop Aldrich’s shooting at Club Q nightclub last November, looked at Aldrich as he spoke and cried out in obvious anger. rice field.

“I hope this terrorist has his own terrifying vision for the rest of his life,” said Fierro, whose daughter’s boyfriend was killed that night.

Drea Norman remembered the loud bangs that night, the smell of gunpowder filling the club, and the constant muzzle flash. Norman, on all fours, tripped over Raymond Green Vance, already shot and pulseless, and hid in the freezer.

When the shooting stops, Norman walks around Vance and finds bartender Derek Lamp dead on the patio, shot dead. That’s when Norman heard a scream—Fiyero asking for help to keep Aldrich in check.

“I was standing over him. All I could think about was throwing my leg out and stopping him, but after imagining 10 strikes, I stopped,” said Norman.

The courtroom wiped away tears as the judge explained the charges and read out the names of the victims. Judge Michael McHenry also lashed out at Aldrich’s actions, linking them to social issues.

Authorities said Aldrich entered the club before midnight on November 19 and began firing indiscriminately with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.

The guilty plea came just seven months after the shooting, sparing victims’ families and survivors a potentially lengthy and painful trial. More charges may be filed: The FBI is working with the US Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division to conduct a separate investigation into the attack, officials have confirmed.

Aldrich, who identifies himself as nonbinary and uses them and their pronouns, did not disclose his motives at Monday’s hearing and refused to speak in court during his sentencing.

The guilty plea came after Aldrich expressed remorse in a series of jail cell phone calls to The Associated Press.

But district attorney Michael Allen said Aldrich’s statement sounded hollow. Prosecutors also denied the notion that Aldrich was non-binary, saying there was “zero evidence” to support it prior to the shooting.

“I think it was a stiff effort to avoid bigotry-motivated accusations and hate accusations,” Allen said. Allen said the defendant displayed “extreme hatred” for the LGBtQ+ community and repeatedly called Aldrich a coward during post-judgment press conferences.

Outside the courtroom, Joshua Thurman said he feared someone would shoot him again, whether he was at a grocery store, gas station or apartment. Thurman is receiving treatment and he is coping with his drinking problem, he said.

“It hurts to laugh and laugh,” Thurman said. “It’s very difficult not to pick up a bottle. It’s eight or nine in the morning.”

Aldrich’s challenge to the hate crime charges effectively has the same effect as a conviction under Colorado law, and does not exonerate them from liability.

The murder rekindled memories of the 2016 massacre that killed 49 people at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

Aldrich was initially charged in state court with more than 300 state charges, including murder and hate crimes. Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vazquez said the U.S. Attorney’s Office has asked that documents related to the case not be released as officials consider separate federal charges.

Ashley Poe’s sister Stephanie Clarke recalled her 11-year-old niece hoping Poe would be found safe after the shooting. Her little girl’s hopes, knowing that her mother was gone, were extinguished with cries of “no, no, no” and “do something about it”.

“That’s what I want him to hear every day for the rest of his life,” Clark said.


Chicago-based Associated Press reporter Michael Term and Denver-based Matthew Brown contributed to this article. Victim confronts Colorado Springs gay nightclub killer, calls him monster, coward

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