Earlier case against Club Q suspect fell apart when witnesses refused to testify, prosecutor says


A judge dismissed the 2021 criminal case against Anderson Lee Aldrich, the suspect in a mass shooting at a Colorado nightclub last month, after relatives who reported threats from Aldrich refused to cooperate, a prosecutor said Thursday.

Authorities seized two guns from Aldrich – a “ghost” pistol without a serial number and an AK-15-style semi-automatic weapon – and those weapons were never returned, District Attorney Michael J. Allen told reporters in Colorado Springs. The felony charges were pending for 383 days, during which time Aldrich was prohibited from obtaining firearms, Allen said.

But even though Aldrich’s relatives reported him to police for threatening a mass shooting and bombing, prosecutors were repeatedly unable to serve them with subpoenas, Allen said.

Allen said Thursday that Aldrich’s defense attorney asked at a court hearing in July that the case be dismissed and told the judge that prosecutors had made “extreme efforts” to serve subpoenas on witnesses, but “there was no way that these people were going. to be showing.” The case was dismissed that day.

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“We did everything we could have done in that situation,” Allen said, adding: “We’ve got to get the person on the stand.”

Allen spoke to reporters shortly after a judge dismissed the 2021 case, which raised questions about the effectiveness of Colorado’s “red flag” law and whether law enforcement officials had an opportunity to prevent the shooting at Club Q. The law allows that is for family members or authorities to request that guns be temporarily confiscated from people who pose a threat to themselves or others.

Before Thursday’s unsealing, authorities declined to comment on the bomb threat situation, citing state law they said prevented them from doing so. Allen rejected what he said was a “false narrative” that he said unfairly blamed prosecutors for dropping the ball on the case and hiding details about it. He said his office asked the judge to continue the case the day he was fired.

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Absent testimony from Aldrich’s grandparents, who reported the 2021 threats, “I don’t see anything about the previous case that would have prevented the Club Q shooting,” Allen said.

The unsealed case was posted on the Colorado courts website late Thursday afternoon. According to the arrest papers, Aldrich’s grandparents told law enforcement officials that Aldrich wanted to “be the next mass killer” and had weapons and bomb materials.

The documents said Aldrich held the grandparents at gunpoint and told them they could not sell their house because “it would interfere with his plans to carry out mass shootings and bombings.” Records say the grandparents fled the home and called 911, after which police arrested Aldrich on suspicion of felony threats and kidnapping at Aldrich’s mother’s home.

Aldrich’s attorney objected Thursday to the unsealing of the records, as did Aldrich’s mother, Laura Voepel. Voepel’s attorney argued that he could harass or retaliate against her. An attorney listed in one court document as representing Pamela Pullen, Aldrich’s grandmother, did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation that she was unwilling to testify. Aldrich’s defense attorney at the time also did not immediately respond to a request for more information.

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Aldrich was formally charged this week with 305 counts of murder, attempted murder, assault, attempted assault and hate crimes in the Club Q shooting, which left five people dead and 17 injured. It remains unclear when and how Aldrich came to possess the guns used in the attack.

An arrest affidavit unsealed Wednesday said Aldrich entered the club shortly before midnight in a ballistic vest and almost immediately began shooting “indiscriminately,” before being stopped by patrons.

Hours later, Voepel told investigators that she and Aldrich had plans to go to a 10 p.m. movie that night, the affidavit states. However, Aldrich left for an errand, saying it would take 15 minutes, but never came back. Voepel told officers the only weapon the pair had was a pocket knife that belonged to Aldrich, the report states.


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