DENVER — The shooter accused of killing five people and injuring 17 others at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs pleaded guilty Monday to charges that will ensure a sentence of life in prison.
Anthony Lee Aldrich, 23, who identifies as nonbinary and uses Mx. Aldrich, allegedly walked into the popular Club Q on Nov. 19, 2022, and opened fire. The shooter is charged with 323 criminal counts including first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault and bias-motivated crimes.
The plea should close the chapter on one of the worst mass killings in Colorado history.
On the night of the shooting, the shooter first entered the club around 10:15 before walking back to the parking lot. The shooter re-entered shortly before midnight, wearing a ballistic vest and carrying an AR-15-style assault rifle and allegedly carried out the attack.
The shooter was tackled and disarmed by patrons before being taken into custody by authorities.
The victims were between the ages of 22 and 40.
The shooter has since apologized for the attack, NBC News affiliate KUSA in Denver reported.
The massacre came 17 months after the shooter was arrested following a standoff that the suspect livestreamed with El Paso County sheriff’s deputies.
After the suspect was arrested and jailed on suspicion of multiple counts of felony menacing and kidnapping, prosecutors decided not to pursue the case and the records were sealed, according to KUSA.
The suspect’s mother, however, had reported that her child “was threatening to cause harm to her with a homemade bomb, multiple weapons, and ammunition,” the sheriff’s department said in a news release.
Army veteran Richard Fierro, who was at Club Q celebrating a birthday with his wife, their daughter and her friends, is one of two people who subdued the shooter.
“I just know I got into mode, and I needed to save my family — and my family was at that time everybody in that room,” he said in November.
In interviews, others who survived the shooting described the terror they felt when the suspect started firing bullets indiscriminately.
Michael Anderson, a bartender at Club Q, recalled in November that he heard “a few popping sounds” and initially assumed someone inside the club might have been clapping.
“Then I looked up,” he said, “and I realized people were running.”