The 23-year-old who killed five people at Club Q, an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs, has been sentenced to life in prison.
Content warning: This story includes topics that could make some readers feel uncomfortable and/or upset.
Anderson Lee Aldrich pleaded guilty on 26 June to five counts of murder and 46 counts of attempted murder in a courtroom packed out with victims and their family members.
Aldrich also pleaded no contest to two hate crimes, one of which was a felony and the other a misdemeanour.
“I intentionally and after deliberation caused the death of each victim,” they told judge Michael McHenry.
Those in the courtroom became emotional as the judge read out the names of the victims and explained the charges in detail.
“You are targeting a group of people for their simple existence,” said McHenry.
“Like too many other people in our culture, you chose to find a power that day behind the trigger of a gun, your actions reflect the deepest malice of the human heart and malice is almost always born of ignorance and fear.”
Aldrich was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Victims called the attacker a “monster” and a “coward” during the court proceedings, which took place just seven months after the shooting in November last year.
Jessica Fierro, whose daughter’s boyfriend was killed at Club Q, said: “This thing sitting in this courtroom is not a human, it is a monster. The devil awaits with open arms.”
Aldrich did not reveal the motivation behind his crime and did not address the court during the sentencing part of their hearing, though defence attorney Joseph Archambault said “they want everyone to know they’re sorry.”
“These victims were targeted for who they were and are”
District attorney Michael Allen, however, said any apology from Aldrich is redundant.
“The ‘why’ matters. These victims were targeted for who they were and are,” he said in court. “Hatred coupled with criminal action will not be tolerated.”
Daniel Aston, Raymond Green Vance, Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh and Derrick Rump all lost their lives at Club Q last year, with the venue recently announcing that a permanent standing tribute will be created for them as part of the venue’s redesign.
“Their memories will be carried forward and honored forever, while we work to make Club Q a forever home for our LGBTQIA+ community,” the venue said in a statement earlier this year.