A judge dismissed a 2021 case against the accused Colorado Springs nightclub shooter despite concerns about a planned attack in the future, according to newly released court transcripts that led to a review of whether more could have been made to prevent violence.
- Shooting:Anderson Lee Aldrich is accused of fatally shooting five people and injuring 17 others last month at Club Q, a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs.
- Charges: Aldrich was charged with 305 counts in the mass shooting, including charges of murder, attempted murder, assault and hate crime, with additional violent crime specifications.
The transcripts shed light on what authorities knew of Aldrich’s increasingly violent behavior before the mass shooting.
What happened in the previous case against the accused Club Q shooter?
In June 2021, Aldrich was arrested after being charged with making a bomb threat that led to a lengthy armed confrontation with SWAT teams, according to court documents.
Their grandparents told police that Aldrich held them hostage in their home, told them about bomb-making equipment in the basement, and shared plans to be the next mass killer. Aldrich live-streamed the standoff on Facebook, and authorities seized weapons, ammunition and more than 100 pounds of explosive materials.
Aldrich was charged with five felonies, including first-degree kidnapping.
Judge warned in 2021 of shooting plans
Judge Robin Chittum dismissed the charges in the 2021 case, despite concerns that the now-accused shooter was stockpiling weapons and planning a shooting, according to newly unsealed court transcripts.
“You clearly have something else planned,” Chittum told the defendant during a hearing in August 2021, after sharing details about their love of gun shooting and history of mental health issues.
“It had nothing to do with your grandmother and grandfather,” Judge said. “It was about saving all these guns and trying to make this bomb, and making statements about other people involved in some kind of shooting and a huge thing.”
El Paso County District Attorney Michael Allen’s office pursued the 2021 case but dropped the charges after family members threatened in the incident refused to cooperate, according to Allen and court documents. Allen said his office repeatedly tried to subpoena the defendant’s family members.
District Court Judge Robin Chittum dismissed the case after the prosecution did not plead to keep it active. Chittum unsealed documents related to the case after last month’s mass shooting, following efforts by several news outlets, including USA TODAY, to have them unsealed.
What more could we do?
“More could have been done to prevent the violence,” said Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who added that “judges are usually more aggressive in cases like this, when the writing is on the wall. “.
Dershowitz told The Associated Press that the situation was an example of “the failure of the legal system.”
Ian Farrell, an associate professor at the University of Denver Sturm School of Law, said AP prosecutions are the responsibility of the district attorney and judges like Chittum do not have the power to impose charges.
“Given that a deadline to continue the trial (of Aldrich) was approaching and the prosecution was clearly not ready to proceed … the trial judge had no choice but to dismiss the case” , Farrell said.
Contact News Now Reporter Christine Fernando at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.
Contributor: The Associated Press