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Club Q shooter pleaded guilty to 2022 mass shooting

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The gunman who killed five people and injured more than a dozen others at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado in 2022 pleaded guilty to a series of federal charges on Tuesday.

Anderson Lee Aldrich, 24, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to 74 counts, including hate crimes and weapons offenses. Aldrich is scheduled to be sentenced later Tuesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs.

Aldrich opened fire on the nightclub with an AR-15 rifle before bar patrons intervened to stop the rampage.

Aldrich is currently serving a life sentence without parole for murder he confessed to last year. The deal was made to spare the families of survivors and victims a potentially painful trial. “I intentionally and after careful deliberation caused the death of each victim,” Aldrich told the state judge at the time.

Aldrich murdered Ashley Paugh, Daniel Aston, Derrick Rump, Raymond Green Vance and Kelly Loving.

Club Q has been closed since the shooting, and owners said in an October 2023 letter that it will not reopen in the same location.

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Many were frightened and grief-stricken after the shooting, which was reminiscent of the shooting at the LGBT nightclub Pulse in Florida in 2016, in which 49 people were shot and killed.

Following the Club Q shooting, Pulse survivor Chris Hansen said he was devastated but urged Colorado's LGBTQ+ community to stay strong.

“Don't give up and don't stay in the dark,” he said at the time. “You have to remember that as long as you're alive, there's still hope. And as long as you're alive, there's still love, and love wins, and you can't let this 22-year-old take away your happiness, your joy, your love, your community, your strength.”

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Aldrich kills 5 people at Club Q in ‘malicious’ attack

Aldrich entered Club Q on November 19, 2022, with an AR-style rifle and opened fire into the packed nightclub. Prosecutors said that in the “deliberate, malicious and premeditated” attack, Aldrich not only killed five people, but injured 19 and attempted to murder 26 others.

“Aldrich committed this attack based on the actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity” of the customers, the Justice Department said in a press release.

Prosecutors noted in court documents that Club Q was celebrating Transgender Day of Remembrance and was a well-known LGBTQ+ nightclub in the city.

Contributors: Thao Nguyen, Josh Meyer, Cady Stanton, Terry Collins, USA TODAY; Reuters.

Contact reporter Krystal Nurse at [email protected]. Follow her on X, formerly Twitter, @KrystalRNurse.