Colorado Club Q shooting: Judge warned suspect planning more … – USA TODAY

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A judge dismissed a 2021 case against the accused Colorado Springs nightclub shooter despite her concerns about a planned attack in the future, according to newly released court transcripts that have led to scrutiny over whether more could have been done to prevent the violence.

  • The shooting: Anderson Lee Aldrich is accused of fatally shooting five people and wounding 17 others last month at Club Q, a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs. 
  • Charges: Aldrich has been charged with 305 counts in the mass shooting, including murder, attempted murder, assault and hate crime charges, with additional violent crime specifications.

The transcripts shed light on what authorities knew about Aldrich’s increasingly violent behavior before the mass shooting.

What happened in the previous case against accused Club Q shooter?

In June 2021, Aldrich was arrested after being accused of making a bomb threat that led to a lengthy armed standoff with SWAT teams, according to court documents.

Their grandparents told police Aldrich held them hostage in their home, told them of bomb-making materials in the basement, and shared plans to be the next mass killer. Aldrich livestreamed 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 shootout plans

Judge Robin Chittum dismissed charges in the 2021 case, despite raising concerns about the now accused shooter stockpiling weapons and planning a shootout, according to newly unsealed court transcripts.

“You clearly have been planning for something else,” Chittum told the defendant at a August 2021 hearing, after they shared details about their love of shooting firearms and their history of mental health problems.

“It didn’t have to do with your grandma and grandpa,” the judge said. “It was saving all these firearms and trying to make this bomb, and making statements about other people being involved in some sort of shootout and a huge thing.”

Charges dropped

El Paso County District Attorney Michael Allen’s office prosecuted the 2021 case but dropped charges after family members who were threatened during the incident refused to cooperate, according to Allen and court documents. Allen said his office made repeated attempts to subpoena the defendant’s family members.

District Court Judge Robin Chittum dismissed the case after the prosecution didn’t argue to keep it active. Chittum unsealed documents related to the case after last month’s mass shooting, following efforts by several news organizations, including USA TODAY, to have them unsealed.

What more could have been done?

“More could have been done to prevent the violence,” said Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who added “judges are usually more aggressive in cases like this, when the handwriting is on the wall.”

Dershowitz told the Associated Press the situation was an example of “the legal system failing.”

Ian Farrell, associate professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, told the AP prosecution is the responsibility of the district attorney, and judges like Chittum don’t have power to force charges.

“Since a deadline for proceeding with (Aldrich’s) trial was coming up and the prosecution clearly was not ready to proceed … the trial judge had no choice but to dismiss the case,” Farrell said.

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Contact News Now Reporter Christine Fernando at or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.

Contributing: The Associated Press