Previous case against Club Q suspect fell apart when witnesses refused to testify, prosecutor says

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A judge dismissed a 2021 criminal case against Anderson Lee Aldrich, the suspect in the mass shooting at a Colorado nightclub last month, after relatives who reported threats from Aldrich refused to cooperate, a prosecutor said Thursday.

Authorities seized two guns from Aldrich — a “ghost” gun without a serial number and an AK-15-style semiautomatic weapon — and those guns were never returned, District Attorney Michael J. Allen told reporters in Colorado Springs. The felony charges were pending for 383 days during which Aldrich was prohibited from acquiring firearms, Allen said.

But even though relatives reported Aldrich to police for threatening to carry out a mass shooting and bombing, prosecutors were repeatedly unable to serve them with subpoenas, Allen said.

Allen said Thursday that at a July hearing, Aldrich’s defense attorney requested that the case be dismissed, telling the judge that prosecutors had made “some very valiant efforts” to serve subpoenas on witnesses, but that “there was no likelihood that these people would leave. to appear.” The case was dismissed the same day.

“We did everything we could have done in that case,” Allen said, adding, “We’ve got to get the actual person on the stand.”

Allen spoke to reporters shortly after a judge unsealed the 2021 case, which raised questions about the effectiveness of Colorado’s “red flag” law and whether law enforcement officials fumbled an opportunity to prevent the shooting at Club Q. That law allows family members or authorities to request the temporary confiscation of weapons from individuals who pose a threat to themselves or others.

Before the end of Thursday, authorities had declined to comment on the bomb threat case, citing state law they said blocked them from doing so. Allen rejected what he called a “false narrative” that, he said, unfairly blamed prosecutors for dropping the ball on the case and obscuring details about it. He said his office asked the judge to continue the case on the day it was dismissed.

Absent testimony from Aldrich’s grandparents, who reported the threats in 2021, “I don’t see anything about the prior case that would have prevented the Club Q shooting,” Allen said.

The unsealed filing was posted to a Colorado court’s website late Thursday afternoon. According to the arrest papers, Aldrich’s grandparents told law enforcement that Aldrich would “be the next mass murderer” and had weapons and bomb-making materials.

The documents said Aldrich held the grandparents at gunpoint and told them they could not sell their home because “it would interfere with his plans to carry out a mass shooting and bombing.” Records say the grandparents fled the house and called 911, after which police arrested Aldrich on suspicion of felony menacing and kidnapping at Aldrich’s mother’s home.

Aldrich’s attorney objected Thursday to the expungement of the records, as did Aldrich’s mother, Laura Voepel. Voepel’s attorney argued that could expose her to harassment or retaliation. An attorney listed in a court document as representing Pamela Pullen, Aldrich’s grandmother, did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation that she was unwilling to testify. Aldrich’s defense attorney at the time also did not immediately respond to a request for more information.

Aldrich was formally charged this week with 305 counts of murder, attempted murder, assault, attempted assault and hate crimes in the Club Q shooting, which left five people dead and 17 injured. It remains unclear when and how Aldrich came into possession of the weapons used in the assault.

An arrest affidavit released Wednesday said Aldrich entered the club shortly before midnight wearing a ballistic vest and almost immediately began shooting “indiscriminately” before being stopped by patrons.

Hours later, Voepel told investigators that she and Aldrich planned to go to a movie at 10 p.m. that evening, the statement says. However, Aldrich left on an errand and said it would take 15 minutes, but never returned. Voepel told officials the only weapon the couple owned was a pocket knife belonging to Aldrich, the report said.

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