Judge raised concerns about Club Q mass shooting suspect stockpiling weapons months before attack

Two mugshots of the Colorado Springs shooter Anderson Lee Aldrich showing severe bruises to his face and neck

A judge had warned of the Club Q shooter’s violent past prior to the devastating Colorado Springs shooting, court transcripts have revealed. 

Anderson Lee Aldrich, who lawyers say uses they/them pronouns, has been charged with 305 criminal counts, including five counts of first-degree murder and multiple hate crime charges.

They are accused of opening fire in Club Q on 19 November – killing two bartenders and three patrons, with at least 25 others injured.

However, prior to the shooting, Judge Robin Chittum had raised concerns about the defendant stockpiling weapons and explosives and planning a shootout, documents obtained by The Associated Press have shown. 

Chittum’s comments had been made in Aldrich’s kidnapping case, which saw him arrested on 18 June 2021 on allegations of making a bomb threat against family members that led to an estimated 10 homes being evacuated.

The FBI were also alerted to Aldrich as a potential danger a day before their June 2021 arrest. About a month later the FBI closed its assessment. 

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In August last year relatives, including grandparents who claimed to have been kidnapped, had told Chittum about Aldrich’s struggles with mental illness. 

During a hearing the judge said Aldrich needed treatment or “it’s going to be so bad”, court documents state. 

However, no mention of the suspect’s violent behaviour or mental health was made during a four-minute hearing this July. 

The court documents also show Chittum had received a letter late last year from relatives of Aldrich’s grandparents warning that he was certain to commit murder if freed. 

Despite this, she granted a defence attorney’s motion to dismiss the case as a trial deadline loomed and the grandparents had stopped cooperating. 

Photos of the shooting victims are displayed at a makeshift memorial outside of Club Q on November 22, 2022 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Photos of the shooting victims are displayed at a makeshift memorial outside of Club Q on November 22, 2022 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (Chet Strange/Getty)

During the August 2021 hearing Chittum told Aldrich: “You clearly have been planning for something else”.

Her comment followed Aldrich testifying about their like for shooting firearms and a history of mental health problems. 

“It didn’t have to do with your grandma and grandpa. 

“It was saving all these firearms and trying to make this bomb, and making statements about other people being involved in some sort of shootout and a huge thing. And then that’s kind of what it turned into,” the judge said.

In court Aldrich told Chittum about repeated abuse they had suffered as a young child by their father. 

They also said they had longtime struggles with severe post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder, according to the transcript. 

Aldrich, who was largely raised by their grandparents, described going to a shooting range as a “major pastime” and “therapeutic”. 

However, when Aldrich’s grandparents made plans to move to Florida, they became despondent. 

The transcript shows this led to the 2021 confrontation with authorities. They also started drinking alcohol regularly, smoking heroin, dropped out of school and quit working. 

Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz has said the court transcripts confirmed his view that “more could have been done to prevent the violence” of the Colorado Springs shooting.

He said the case had been a “legal system failing”.

Charges in earlier case were dropped after four-minute hearing 

During a four-minute hearing this July charges against Aldrich — who had stockpiled explosives and allegedly spoke of plans to become the “next mass killer” before engaging in an armed standoff with SWAT teams — were thrown out. 

“Since a deadline for proceeding with (Aldrich’s) trial was coming up and the prosecution clearly was not ready to proceed … the trial judge had no choice but to dismiss the case,” district attorney Ian Farrell said. 

Spokesperson for the district attorney’s office, Howard Black, said he cannot share information about the kidnapping case because it’s part of the current investigation.

El Paso County district attorney Michael Allen has said his office did all in its power to prosecute the case. 

The 2021 incident saw Aldrich allegedly tell their grandparents about firearms and bomb-making material in the basement of the home they all shared. 

Aldrich vowed not to let the grandparents interfere with plans to “go out in a blaze”.

Prior to the case being dropped they faced two counts of felony menacing and three counts of first-degree kidnapping.

By August 2021 Aldrich had been bonded out of jail. At two hearings following this defence attorneys described how Aldrich was attending therapy and was on medication. 

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