Life sentence for the non-binary shooter of a Colorado Springs gay club

In November 2022, Anderson Lee Aldrich walked into an LGBTQ+ bar armed with a rifle and killed five people.

Anderson Lee Aldrich, the man who in November 2022 walked into an LGBTQ+ bar in Colorado Springs armed and killed five people, was sentenced to life in prison Monday.

Aldrich, 23, pleaded guilty to all five counts of murder, in addition to the other 46 counts of the same attempted crime. "I intentionally and after deliberation caused the death of each victim," Aldrich asserted during the trial. Aldrich also pleaded no contest to the two hate crime charges he faced. "You're attacking a group of people for their mere existence," commented District Judge Michael McHenry after the verdict.

According to the media that attended the last hearing of the trial, both victims and family members were present in the courtroom. They had the opportunity to take the floor to make some comments. Many of them called the shooter a "monster" and a "coward."

In November 2022, Aldrich entered the Club Q bar in Colorado Springs, Colo., armed with an AR-15-style rifle in addition to another handgun. He then opened fire on the establishment's customers. Many of those present did not immediately notice the attack, confusing the gunshots with the music. Aldrich hit 24 people until Richard Fierro, an ex-military customer, lunged at him and grabbed his gun. Several patrons teamed up to take Aldrich down. In addition to the five dead, another 19 people were wounded.

Aldrich seemed unstable. A year before the attack on Club Q, the shooter had already been arrested for threatening to blow up his grandparents' basement. Aldrich then warned his family members that they would not stand in his way of becoming the next "mass murderer." However, the charges were dropped, so a ban on the purchase and carrying of firearms could not be imposed.

According to an El Paso County district court document, Aldrich identifies as non-binary, despite pushback from the rest of the LGBTQ+ community. The shooter's defense attorney revealed the gender by which his client identifies: "Anderson Aldrich is non-binary. He uses the pronouns they/them and, for purposes of all formal records, will be addressed as Mx. Aldrich."

A few weeks before the verdict, the AP published some of Aldrich's calls from jail. In them, the shooter expressed remorse for the events that occurred eight months earlier. Some of the survivors told the AP that it was only an attempt to escape capital punishment.

Aldrich can still be indicted and prosecuted on federal charges, which would open the door to the death penalty. The Justice Department said it is still considering whether to formally charge Aldrich with hate crimes, according to the AP.