By: Katie Parkins
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Scripps News Denver) — The suspect accused of killing five people and injuring 17 others during an attack on LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs last November has pleaded guilty to five counts of first-degree murder and dozens of other counts.
Anderson Lee Aldrich, 23, who uses they/them pronouns, will not face a jury trial. They will serve life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Aldrich pleaded guilty to five counts of first-degree murder and 46 counts of attempted first-degree murder. They pleaded “no contest” to two charges of bias-motivated crimes.
The suspect entered the guilty plea Monday morning during an arraignment in an El Paso County courtroom. 4th Judicial District Judge Michael McHenry explained to the suspect and their legal team the implications of a plea deal and the rights they waived in pleading guilty.
The plea was expected after The Associated Press reported the suspect’s plans earlier this month.
“I have to take responsibility for what happened,” they told the AP during a jailhouse interview for that story.
In the wake of that report, Scripps News Denver with some Club Q survivors who were frustrated that the Associated Press had spoken to the suspect.
Michael Anderson, who was working as a bartender at Club Q on the night of the November mass shooting, was among the people interviewed for the AP story. He told Scripps News Denver he thought it was “completely irresponsible” for the AP to interview the suspect in jail.
“All [the suspect] deserves is his day in court,” Anderson said,
In a statement, the AP said it took “great care” in its reporting.
The stories of the lives of the five victims include tales of friendly bartenders who were well-loved and looked after their patrons.
Daniel Aston was 28 years old and worked as a bartender at Club Q.
Raymond Green Vance was 22 years old. He was born in Chicago but spent most of his life in Colorado Springs.
In Monday’s arraignment hearing, Raymond’s mother Adriana, said, “somehow the families all need to find a way to go on. This man doesn’t deserve to go on.”
Kelly Loving was 40 years old.
Ashley Paugh’s husband, Kurt Paugh, said that his wife meant everything to their family.
“It hurts that this monster gets to spend the rest of his life in prison, living off our tax dollars,” Kurt Paugh said during Monday’s arraignment hearing.
During her victim-impact statement, Ashley’s sister described her and Kurt having to tell Ashley’s daughter Riley that “her mommy was never coming home.” Ashley’s sister, said “the screams and cries of ‘no, no, no’ and begging us to please do something to bring her mommy back are forever etched into my mind.”
Derrick Rump was 38 years old and worked as a bartender at Club Q.
Survivors of the November attack, some of whom served as grand marshals in Denver’s Pride Parade Sunday, are also frustrated with the alleged mismanagement of donated funds.
On Saturday, the Colorado Healing Fund announced the disbursement of $811,400 received for Club Q victims. The funds will be distributed through the organization’s community partners to the victims’ families, survivors, and those immediately impacted, CHF said in a news release.
This story was originally published by Scripps News Denver, an E.W. Scripps Company.