A bomb threat case against the suspect in the Club Q shooting went nowhere last year because the relatives declined to testify, Colorado authorities said Thursday.
Anderson Lee Aldrich is alleged to have killed five people Nov. 19 at the Colorado Springs LGBTQ club the year after having been arrested on allegations of making a bomb threat that prompted the evacuations of about 10 homes.
The paper trail in that arrest showed no trial or conviction, and little was known about the case until Thursday, when an El Paso County judge unsealed court records and District Attorney Michael Allen spoke about that matter for the first time.
The alleged victims in the 2021 case were the suspect's mother and grandparents, who could not be reached by process servers seeking to secure their testimony, Allen said.
Aldrich had been charged with two counts of felony menacing and three counts of first-degree kidnapping.
“The only way that it [the bomb threat case] would have prevented the [Club Q] tragedy is if the witnesses actually were present at trial, testified and somebody was convicted," Allen told reporters. "He was not convicted in that case, and that person then was in custody for an extended period of time."
Kristy Bootes, a victims advocate who appeared with Allen, said family members frequently refuse to testify against loved ones.
“The victim will often feel responsible for the consequences that the perpetrator is facing. They’ll often feel a responsibility to help them change," Bootes said. "Victim recantation in family violence cases is incredibly common."
On June 18, 2021, Aldrich’s grandmother called dispatchers and “stated Anderson told her he was going to be the next mass killer” and had amassed guns and ammunition, a sheriff’s deputy wrote in an affidavit unsealed Thursday.
The grandmother said Aldrich had been creating what she thought was a bomb in the basement, and she “stated Anderson has bragged about wanting to ‘go out in a blaze,’” the affidavit says.
That day, Aldrich’s grandmother said they had been living in fear, according to the affidavit. They planned to move to Florida, which Aldrich was not happy about, and when they called Aldrich into the living room to discuss it, Aldrich came out of the basement with a handgun, the grandmother said, according to the affidavit.
The grandmother said Aldrich pointed the gun at them and said, "You guys die today, and I'm taking you with me," the document says. When Aldrich went back to the basement, they ran to their car and called 911.
Authorities found Aldrich's vehicle at his mother's home, which is in the same area, and Aldrich inside the home, the affidavit says. A SWAT team arrived and the mother left the home and said “he let me go,” it says.
Allen bristled Thursday at any suggestion that his prosecutors didn't push the case as hard as they could have.
"We prosecuted it until we couldn’t prosecute it any longer," he said. "It would not have prevented the Club Q shooting."
He added later: "Nobody gave up on this case. We were fighting this case until the very end. We asked for a continuance the day it was dismissed."
Aldrich has been charged with 305 criminal counts, including first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault and bias-motivated crimes.
Advocates of Colorado's red flag law have argued that more should have been done to disarm Aldrich last year.
Two weapons were seized from Aldrich at the time of the bomb threat arrest, Allen said.
"No other firearms were obtained, signifying, I guess, he probably didn't have any other at that time," Allen said.
Other court documents released Thursday included a letter to a judge from two siblings of Aldrich’s grandfather. They said Aldrich was raised by his grandparents.
They describe a family frightened of Aldrich. They said in the letter that Aldrich punched holes in walls and broke windows and that his grandparents slept with their bedroom door locked and a baseball bat by the bed.
“My brother lived in a virtual prison — even the neighbors would not come near their home due to the shouting and atmosphere,” the brother and sister of Aldrich’s grandfather wrote.
Aldrich identifies as nonbinary and uses the pronouns they/them, the suspect's lawyer has said in court filings.