The judge in a 2021 kidnapping case against the man accused in last month's deadly rampage at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ club had warned that the suspected shooter could be planning violence.
The 22-year-old has been charged with murder, attempted murder, assault and bias-motivated crimes in the Nov. 19 attack at Club Q that killed five people and wounded 17. Lawyers for Anderson Lee Aldrich have said they will not comment on the case.
In 2021, while presiding over a kidnapping case that involved an alleged bomb threat, Judge Robin Chittum of El Paso County warned that Aldrich may be stockpiling weapons and explosives and planning a shootout. The judge's warning was included in court documents unsealed Dec. 8.
"Wow," the judge said of the alleged plans for violence. "Just really, really scary."
Officials said that on June 18, 2021, Aldrich allegedly pointed a gun at and threatened to kill relatives. The suspect was charged with two counts of felony menacing and three counts of first-degree kidnapping.
Relatives, including the grandparents who claimed to have been kidnapped, had told the judge about Aldrich’s struggles with mental illness during an August 2021 hearing at which the judge said Aldrich needed treatment or “it’s going to be so bad,” according to the documents.
Yet no mention was made during a hearing this July of the suspect’s violent behavior or the status of any mental health treatment.
And Chittum, who had received a letter late last year from relatives of Aldrich’s grandparents warning the suspect was certain to commit murder if freed, granted a defense attorney’s motion to dismiss the case as a trial deadline loomed and the grandparents had stopped cooperating.
The judge's assistants did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday night. District Attorney Michael Allen said at a news conference last week the 2021 case was dependent on victims' testimony that was unlikely to materialize.
Authorities have said that the suspect's grandparents were set to move out of state and that Aldrich was upset by the plans and told a parent about a homemade bomb.
According to an affidavit from a sheriff's deputy, Aldrich’s grandmother called dispatchers to inform them that "Anderson told her he was going to be the next mass killer."
Aldrich was arrested, and two firearms were seized, prosecutors said.
At a 2021 hearing, Chittum expressed alarm at Aldrich's behavior and suggested the suspect planned more mayhem.
"You clearly have been planning for something else, and it didn’t have to do with your grandma and grandpa," she said in court. "It was saving all these firearms and trying to make this bomb, and making statements about other people being involved in some sort of shootout and a huge thing."
She said she was "glad" SWAT team members didn't hurt or kill the suspect.
"Things just went unhinged," the judge said. "And it looks like it could have been worse because you had plans for it to be worse."
Aldrich is accused of walking into Club Q late on Nov. 19 and opening fire with an AR-15 clone, a replica of a rifle initially developed for war but first sold for sporting purposes.
Aldrich was subdued by at least two clubgoers before police arrived.