COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado – The suspect accused of fatally shooting five people at an LGBTQ nightclub before being tackled and pistol-whipped by bystanders sat slumped during a first court appearance on Wednesday, bruised, swollen and uttering slurred responses to a judge’s brief questions.
The suspect, Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, appeared on video from jail and was ordered held without bond. The accused shooter, who is being held on suspicion of first-degree murder and hate crimes, is expected to be formally charged at a hearing Dec 6.
New details emerged about the suspect as the small, close-knit LGBTQ community in this conservative city hoisted a giant rainbow flag outside City Hall to grieve the attack at Club Q.
Public defenders representing the accused gunman disclosed in court papers made public late on Tuesday that their client identified as nonbinary and used they-them pronouns.
One footnote in the filings said that “for the purposes of all formal filings”, their client “will be addressed as Mx Aldrich”.
At a news conference outside the courthouse, District Attorney Michael Allen said the suspect’s gender identity would not affect his approach to the case or influence whether he files hate crimes charges.
Prosecutors have not said what they believed the motive was for the attack.
Lawyers for the suspect did not respond to requests for comment.
Ms Kristen Prata Browde, a co-chair of the National Trans Bar Association, said that a suspect’s gender identity should have no bearing on whether they can be prosecuted for a hate crime in the Club Q shooting.
When the suspect was arrested, police listed five potential counts of murder and five counts of what Colorado state law refers to as “bias-motivated” crimes, meaning that they were motivated at least in part by bias concerning a victim’s race, nationality, religion, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity. Such cr...