The man suspected of carrying out the horrific shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs over the weekend also appears to have been arrested last summer following an alleged bomb threat and a long standoff with law enforcement.
Officials said Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, opened fire at Club Q nightclub just before midnight on Saturday, killing five and wounding at least 25 before “heroic” guests stopped the gunman.
Little was confirmed about Aldrich or his motives as of Sunday afternoon, but officials said they are investigating the attack as a hate crime.
Aldrich does not appear to have a public presence on social media. He was arrested minutes after the shooting began, officials said.
It appears that Aldrich was previously arrested in June 2021 after a woman reported her son threatened her with “a homemade bomb, multiple guns and ammunition,” according to a press release from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. The man arrested in the incident – after a long standoff with MPs and the evacuation of nearby homes – had the same name and age as Aldrich.
Authorities have not confirmed whether the two men are identical.
In the June 2021 incident, deputies found Aldrich, then 21, at a home in suburban Colorado Springs — about 15 miles from Club Q — where he refused to surrender to officers, the report said .
Deputies found Aldrich at Leslie Bowman’s home, who rented a guest room to Aldrich’s mother, Laura Voepel. Bowman said Aldrich lives nearby with his grandparents.
“Laura texted me and was like, ‘Hey, when are you coming home?’ I said I’d be there in 30 minutes to an hour,” Bowman recalled in an interview on Sunday. “She said to me, ‘Well, don’t come home. Some people are looking for Andy (Anderson Aldrich).”’
Bowman, 41, was alarmed.
“When she said people were looking for Andy, I thought maybe it was the police,” she said. “And I wasn’t cool with it.”
Bowman described Aldrich as a great man. She said he was quiet and hadn’t socialized much.
“He was physically imposing, so I could understand why some people might find him intimidating,” she said.
Bowman said she called the police to see what was going on.
“I didn’t know the seriousness of the situation, but they said, ‘Don’t go to your house,'” Bowman said.
Numerous police vehicles were parked in front of her house. Voepel was inside with her son for two hours before she left,” Bowman said.
“That’s when I found out about the guns and the explosives,” she said.
Deputies eventually evacuated 10 homes in the area and sent a text alert to residents within a quarter-mile radius before Aldrich went outside and was arrested without issue, the release said. Bowman said the standoff lasted about three hours before a crisis-negotiation unit persuaded Aldrich to come to the front door.
He was arrested on two counts of felony threats and three counts of first-degree kidnapping, although it’s unclear who was kidnapped. No explosives were found, the press release said.
“Nobody followed me to ask questions or give me details, not the prosecutor, nobody,” Bowman said. “Since the situation ended peacefully, I just got on with my life.”
Last month, she said, sheriff’s deputies came to her home again, but this time to investigate Voepel, who she said no longer lives there. She didn’t know what prompted the review.
According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, no formal charges were brought against Aldrich and the case was sealed. A call to prosecutors on Sunday went unanswered, but a spokesman for prosecutors declined to comment to other media outlets on the matter.
When Bowman first learned of the shooting and the suspect’s identity on Sunday, she was stunned. She got out of bed and paced the floors of her house.
She has described herself as a strong 2nd Amendment supporter, but wonders how Aldrich got a gun.
“I hope justice is done,” Bowman said. “I don’t think it was because of the bomb threat last year. If he were, he would be in prison and five people would not be dead today.”
Times editors Hannah Wiley in Sacramento, Kevin Rector in Colorado Springs, and Jack Dolan in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-11-21/colorado-springs-nightclub-suspect-history What we know about suspect in mass shooting at gay nightclub