The suspect in the deadly shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs first appeared in court via video on Wednesday and was being held without bail.
In a brief video appearance from prison, Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, was seen slumped in a chair, flanked by two defense attorneys.
The attorneys had to prompt their client when El Paso District Court Judge Charlotte Ankeny asked Anderson to provide her name and whether they understood her constitutional rights.
With injuries visible on the side of her face, Aldrich answered in slurred, muffled tones. The lawyers refrained from reading a briefing on the rights, charges and penalties in the case.
Ankeny scheduled the next hearing for December 6 at 8:30 am with Judge Michael McHenry.
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The court appearance comes after defense attorneys said late Tuesday that their client was non-binary and court filings identified the suspect as “Mx. Aldrich.” The attorneys’ footnotes claim that Aldrich uses s/he pronouns.
The suspect was beaten into submission by well-wishers during Saturday night’s shooting and was discharged from hospital on Tuesday. The motive for the shooting is still under investigation, but authorities said Anderson faces possible murder and hate crime charges.
The charges against Aldrich are preliminary and prosecutors have not yet filed any formal charges.
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Local and federal authorities have declined to answer questions about why hate crime charges were being considered. District Attorney Michael Allen noted that the murder charge would carry the harshest sentence — life in prison — while crimes of prejudice carry probation.
He also said it was important to show the community that crimes motivated by prejudice would not be tolerated.
Aldrich was arrested last year after her mother reported that her child threatened her with a homemade bomb and other weapons. Authorities at the time said no explosives were found, but gun control advocates have questioned why police didn’t use Colorado’s “red flag” laws to confiscate the guns Aldrich’s mother claims her child has.
Allen declined to answer questions related to the 2021 bomb threat after Wednesday’s court hearing.
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Authorities said Aldrich was using a long rifle and was stopped by two club guests, including Richard Fierro, who told reporters he took a pistol from Aldrich, hit her with it and with the help of another person held her until police arrived.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.