The suspect in a weekend gun attack on an LBGTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs will face five murder charges, and five additional hate crime counts of causing injury with “bias motivation”, preliminary records released on Monday afternoon show.
The details came as police updated the number of injured in the Saturday night rampage at Club Q to 18, and said the alleged shooter, 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, remained in custody at a local hospital.
Officials said it was likely he would be released from hospital in the next couple of days and would then make a first court appearance on video.
Earlier, the mayor of Colorado Springs, John Suthers, said the attack had “the trappings of a hate crime”, and spoke of the “tragic darkness” that descended on the community.
“The actions of this single individual, whatever his motivations, don’t reflect the city of Colorado Springs,” Suthers told ABC’s Good Morning America.
“It has the trappings of a hate crime, but we are going to have to see what the investigation shows in terms of social media and things like that, to make a clear determination exactly what the motive was.
“We have all been impacted by the tragic darkness.”
According to online court records obtained on Monday, Aldrich faces five murder charges and five charges of committing a bias-motivated crime causing bodily injury.
The charges were preliminary, and prosecutors had not filed them in court, Michael Allen, district attorney of El Paso county told reporters at a press briefing on Monday afternoon.
Court documents laying out what led to Aldrich’s arrest have been sealed at the request of prosecutors, who said releasing details could jeopardize the investigation.
A law enforcement official said the suspect used an AR-15-style semiautomatic weapon in Saturday night’s attack, but a handgun and additional ammunition magazines also were recovered.
The official could not discuss details of the investigation publicly and spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
The attack ended when the suspect was confronted by a club-goer described by witnesses as a hero.
“He saved dozens and dozens of lives,” one of the club’s owners, Matthew Haynes, said at a Sunday vigil for the victims, according to the New York Times.
“Stopped the man cold. Everyone else was running away, and he ran toward him.”
Another patron helped to subdue the gunman, who was reported to be wearing full body armor, until police arrived, Haynes said.
Four of the five killed had been identified by family and friends by mid-afternoon Monday.
They included two bartenders at Club Q, Daniel Aston, 28; and Derrick Rump, 38; Kelly Loving, 40; and Ashley Paugh, 35. Paugh, who was visiting Colorado Springs with a friend, was mother to an 11-year-old daughter.
Officials named a fifth fatal victim, Raymond Green Vance, at the media briefing on Monday afternoon.
Of the injured, 17 were treated for gunshot wounds, and another received non-weapons related injuries, police said.
Lt Pamela Castro, spokesperson for the Colorado Springs police department, said the first 911 call was received at 11.56pm Saturday, and officers were on the scene within four minutes. The suspect was detained at two minutes past midnight, she said, and two weapons, including an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle, were recovered.
Suthers also praised the club’s patrons for halting the gunman and preventing greater loss of life.
“That’s largely because of the intervention of at least one, possibly two, very heroic individuals who subdued this guy,” he told CNN.
“[They] appear to have taken his handgun … and used it to disable him … not shoot him, but hit him with the gun. It could have been much, much worse but for these heroic actors.”
The investigation is being conducted by multiple law enforcement agencies, including the FBI. Phil Weiser, the Colorado attorney general, told CNN on Monday that: “We’re living in a time of rising hate and rising demonization.”
CNN cited two anonymous sources who said the attacker legally purchased the guns he used, but did not say when he had done so.
In June 2021, authorities said, he allegedly threatened his mother with a homemade bomb, forcing neighbors in surrounding homes to evacuate while the bomb squad and crisis negotiators talked him into surrendering.
The Associated Press reported on Monday that there was no public record of prosecutors moving forward with felony kidnapping and menacing charges against the shooter, or that police or relatives tried to trigger Colorado’s “red flag” law that would have allowed authorities to seize the weapons and ammunition his mother says he had with him.
Suthers said on NBC’s Today that the district attorney would file motions in court on Monday to allow law enforcement to talk more about any criminal history “that this individual might have had”.
CNN on Monday posted a report including video footage of the shooter surrendering to a Swat team after that incident.
Club Q’s other owner, Nic Grzecka, told ABC News that he did not recognize the suspect and had not seen him at the nightclub before.
Grzecka said the club had enacted an active shooter protocol following the 2016 gun attack on Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, in which a shooter took 49 lives.
Joe Biden issued a statement on Sunday in which the president said “we must drive out the inequities that contribute to violence” against the LGBTQ community.
“While no motive in this attack is yet clear, we know that the [LGBTQ] community has been subjected to horrific hate violence in recent years,” Biden said. “Gun violence continues to have a devastating and particular impact on [LGBTQ] communities across our nation and threats of violence are increasing.”
The club’s owners posted a statement on its Facebook page calling it a hate attack.
“Club Q is devastated by the senseless attack on our community. Our prayers and thoughts are with all the victims and their families and friends. We thank the quick reactions of heroic customers that subdued the gunman and ended this hate attack,” it said.