A suspect is facing multiple murder and hate crime charges after five people were killed and 18 others were injured during a mass shooting inside a LGBT+ nightclub in Colorado Springs on 19 November.
Police officers responded to the scene shortly after midnight after 911 dispatchers received “numerous” calls that there was an active shooter inside the club.
On Sunday morning, Colorado Springs police identified the suspected shooter as 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich.
The suspect was overpowered by “hero” patrons who managed to wrest the guns from them, police said. Aldrich was hospitalised for undisclosed injuries.
Club Q said it was “devastated” by the attack and called the incident a “hate attack”.
According to law enforcement officials, the suspect “immediately” opened fire into the club just before midnight during a dance event that was set to finish at 2am.
On Monday, Aldrich was charged with five counts of first-degree murder and five counts of “bias-motivated crimes causing bodily injury”.
Here’s what we know so far:
Who is the Colorado Springs shooting suspect Anderson Lee Aldrich?
Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, was named as the suspected shooter on Sunday morning.
The suspect was taken into custody at the scene and transported to hospital for unspecified injuries.
Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said Aldrich entered the club and began firing a long rifle before being subdued by witnesses.
Two guns were recovered at the scene, an AR-15-style rifle and a handgun. Both weapons were legally purchased, law enforcement sources told CNN.
A motive has not yet been determined.
Public defenders said in a court filing on Tuesday that Aldrich is non-binary and uses them/they pronouns.
This claim has been met with skepticism. Aldrich’s neighbours told The Daily Beast the suspect frequently used homophobic slurs.
Does Aldrich have a criminal history?
Law enforcement officials said the suspect’s previous “interactions with law enforcement” are part of an investigation into the attack.
The suspect was arrested by El Paso County sheriff’s deputies last year, after mother Laura Voepel told police that her child was “threatening to cause harm to her with a homemade bomb, multiple weapons, and ammunition.”
Yet the district attorney’s office told Colorado Springs newspaper The Gazette that no formal charges had been filed and that the case had been sealed.
CNN obtained video footage of the shooter surrendering to law enforcement after allegedly making the bomb threat.
Aldrich also live-streamed the armed confrontation, threatening to blow the home “to holy hell”.
“This is your boy, I’ve got the f***ing s***heads outside, they’ve got a beat on me,” Aldrich says in footage obtained by The Gazette, which shows the suspect armed with a rifle and wearing body armour.
“If they breach I’m going to blow it to holy hell.”
No charges were formally laid against Aldrich, and the file has since been sealed, a local assistant attorney told The Gazette.
Howard Black, spokesman for the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, told The Denver Post that the incident “is all part of the investigation and will be released as appropriate.”
On Monday, Aldrich was arrested on suspicion of five counts of first degree murder and five counts of hate crime causing injury, according to court records.
The suspect made a first court appearance via videolink on Wednesday morning and will remain in custody.
A second appearance has been scheduled for 6 December.
What do we know about the suspect’s family?
The suspect is reportedly the grandchild of a Republican state legislator who praised the Capitol riot, according to public records and social media posts seen by The Independent.
A person with the same name and age as the suspect is listed as having lived at the same address as 45-year-old Laura Voepel.
Ms Voepel, in turn, is listed as a relative of California assemblyman Randy Voepel, 72, who said of the Capitol riot: “This is Lexington and Concord. First shots fired against tyranny."
In a string of Facebook posts first reported by the breaking news website Heavy, a person by the name of Laura Voepel referred to Randy Vopel as "Dad" and "my father", at one point telling him to "keep up the good work".
Other Facebook posts by Ms Voepel describe her buying a military camouflage suit for her Aldrich’s 15th birthday; asking for recommendations for a boxing coach; seeking a trauma and PTSD therapist seemingly for her child; and, after the 2021 bomb threat incident, asking if anyone knew a “fantastic defence attorney” who could help the family.
Randy Voepel’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Phone numbers listed as belonging to Ms Voepel were either out of service or did not pick up.
It was also revealed that Aldrich and their family are members of the Mormon church.
The church confirmed that Aldrich was a registered member of the Mormon church, but said in a statement the suspect was not active.
Ms Voepel’s social media footprint shows she is closely linked to groups associated with the Church of the Latter-Day Saints.
A spokesperson for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints confirmed that the suspect is on the membership rolls.
“The senseless act of violence in Colorado Springs is of great sadness and concern to us,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “We are greatly troubled by any violence in our communities and condemn most especially violent acts that are the result of intolerance against any of God’s children.”
On Monday, Mr Vasquez said in an interview with CNN on Monday that the suspect was refusing to speak with law enforcement.
When asked about the 2021 bomb threat, Mr Vasquez said the suspect’s mother had not cooperated with the investigation.
“We would certainly welcome an interview with her at any time,” he told CNN.
How did the shooting unfold?
The shooting took place after Club Q held a punk and alternative drag event hosted by performer Del Lusional.
The show began at 9pm, followed by a DJ and dancing from 11pm that was scheduled to go to 2am.
“I was walking backstage when I heard the gunshots. I only saw the after math and even then, I didn’t wanna look,” Del Lusional wrote in a post on Twitter.
In another post, the performer said: “I never thought this would happen to me and my bar. I don’t know what to do with myself. I can’t stop hearing the shots.”
The suspect was reportedly armed with an AR-15-style rifle and a handgun.
One victim ran from the scene to a nearby 7-Eleven and collapsed, according to a witness who spoke with Colorado Public Radio.
“One of the victims had gotten shot seven times and ran over here … trying to get some help,” he said. “He collapsed. That’s why that caution tape is out in the front there.”
Another witness told reporters on Sunday morning that he heard “four or five shots” while on the dance floor, then heard more gunfire and saw “the flash from the muzzle of the gun” before running into a dressing room in the back of the club and dropping to the floor.
The first call to 911 arrived at 11.56pm, and an officer was dispatched at 11.57pm.
Officers arrived on the scene at midnight, and a suspect was taking into custody at 12.02am.
A post on the club’s Facebook page said that people inside the building helped stop the shooter.
“Our [prayers] and thoughts are with all the victims and their families and friends,” according to a post on the club’s Facebook page. “We thank the quick reactions of heroic customers that subdued the gunman and ended this hate attack.”
‘Heroic’ intervention saved lives
Richard Fierro, a former US Army major, told how he tackled the suspect to the ground and beat the suspect unconscious.
Mr Fierro had been at the venue with his wife, daughter and her boyfriend Raymond Green, who died in the shooting.
Speaking to CNN on Monday night, Mr Fierro described how he overpowered the suspect and then beat them unconscious with a handgun while another person stomped on their head.
“I found a crease between his armour and his head and I just started waling away with his gun,” Mr Fierro said.
More than 30 firefighters and 11 ambulances responded to the scene, and ambulances transported three patients at a time to local hospitals.
During an early morning press conference in the aftermath of the attack, police spokesperson Lt Pam Castro stressed that “the investigation is in the very initial stages” and declined to discuss a motive.
The FBI also is assisting the Colorado Springs Police Department with the investigation.