The suspect in the deadly LGBTQ nightclub shooting in Colorado Springs made an initial appearance in court by video Wednesday and was held without bail.
In a brief video appearance from jail, 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich could be seen slumped in a chair, flanked by two defense attorneys.
The attorneys had to prompt their client when El Paso County Court Judge Charlotte Ankeny asked Anderson to state their name and whether they understood their constitutional rights.
With visible injuries on the side of their face, Aldrich answered in slurred, hushed tones. The attorneys waived reading an advisement of the rights, charges, and penalties in the case.
Ankeny set the next hearing for Dec. 6 at 8:30 a.m. with Judge Michael McHenry.
The court appearance came after defense attorneys said late Tuesday that their client is nonbinary and in court filings referred to the suspect as “Mx. Aldrich.” The attorneys’ footnotes assert that Aldrich uses they/them pronouns.
The suspect was beaten into submission by patrons during Saturday night’s shooting and released from the hospital Tuesday. The motive in the shooting was 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 formal charges.
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 charges would carry the harshest penalty — life in prison — whereas bias crimes are eligible for probation.
He also said it was important to show the community that bias motivated crimes are not tolerated.
Aldrich was arrested last year after their mother reported 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 asked why police didn’t use Colorado’s “red flag” laws to seize the weapons Aldrich’s mother says her child had.
Allen declined to answer questions related to the 2021 bomb threat following Wednesday’s court hearing.
Authorities said Aldrich used a long rifle and was halted by two club patrons, including Richard Fierro, who told reporters that he took a handgun from Aldrich, hit them with it and pinned them down with help from another person until police arrived.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.