Times Standard (Eureka)
Detective: Alleged Colorado Springs nightclub shooter ran neo-Nazi site
The 22-year-old accused of carrying out the deadly mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs in November ran a neo-Nazi website and used gay and racial slurs while gaming online, a police detective testified Wednesday.
Anderson Lee Aldrich used racial slurs while gaming, posted an image of a rifle scope trained on a gay pride parade and used a homophobic slur when referring to someone who was gay, Detective Rebecca Joines testified on the first day of a three-day trial to determine if there’s enough evidence to warrant hate crime charges against Aldrich.
Aldrich, who wore an orange jail jumpsuit at the hearing and cried at times, identifies as nonbinary and uses the pronouns they and them. Joines said another witness told investigators that Aldrich said their mother, Laura Voepel, is nonbinary and forced them to go to LGBTQ clubs.
Joines said evidence also indicates that Aldrich was considering livestreaming the Nov. 19 attack at Club Q in which five people were killed and many others were injured.
Earlier Wednesday, another detective testified about the two men credited with stopping the attack.
Detective Ashton Gardner told the courtroom that surveillance video from inside the club showed that a Navy sailor, Petty Officer Second Class Thomas James, grabbed the red-hot barrel of Aldrich’s AR-style rifle in an effort to wrench it away and burned his hand. He said James and Aldrich then tumbled off a landing and began struggling over Aldrich’s handgun, which Aldrich fired at least once, shooting James in the ribs.
After being shot, it is clear from the video that James was tiring, “but he continues to do what he can to subdue the suspect until police arrive,” Gardner testified, noting that James later gave up his spot in an ambulance to someone else who was injured.
As James was grappling with Aldrich, Army veteran Richard Fierro rushed over to help, grabbing the rifle and throwing it, Gardner said. Fierro then used the handgun to beat Aldrich, telling officers, “I kept hitting him until you came.”
Aldrich shook during the testimony about the people they shot and cried while being led out of court for the lunch break.
James, who issued a statement days after the attack saying he “simply wanted to save the family that I found,” didn’t appear to be at the hearing. But Fierro, who sustained scrapes and bruises, sat in the back row. His daughter’s boyfriend was killed in the attack.
After the gunfire ended and police arrived, Aldrich tried to pin the shooting on one of the patrons who subdued them while also claiming that the shooter was hiding, Officer Connor Wallick testified. Officers didn’t believe it and shortly afterward confirmed that Aldrich, 22, was the shooter, he said.