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In 2021, judge warned of suspected gay bar attacker's shootout plans

Colorado Springs Shooting
Posted at 9:55 AM, Dec 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-16 12:55:19-05

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — A Colorado judge who dismissed a 2021 kidnapping case against the suspected LGBTQ nightclub shooter warned last year that the defendant had been stockpiling weapons and planning a shootout, and needed mental health treatment or "it’s going to be so bad.”

The comments made by Judge Robin Chittum in August last year are contained in court documents obtained by The Associated Press. They add to the warning signs authorities had about Anderson Aldrich's increasingly violent behavior prior to the Nov. 19 shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs.

Five people were killed and 17 wounded.

The judge's comments came during a preliminary hearing on charges that Aldrich kidnapped their grandparents, and had previously been under a court seal that was lifted last week.

“You clearly have been planning for something else,” Chittum told Aldrich during the hearing, after the defendant testified about an affinity for shooting firearms and a history of mental health problems.

“It didn’t have to do with your grandma and grandpa. 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. And then that’s kind of what it turned into,” the judge said.

Chittum’s assistant Chad Dees said Friday that the judge declined to comment.

The 2021 charges against Aldrich — who had stockpiled explosives and allegedly spoke of plans to become the “next mass killer” before engaging in an armed standoff with SWAT teams — were thrown out during a four-minute hearing this past July at which the prosecution didn’t even argue to keep the case active.

Chittum, who received a letter last year from relatives of the grandparents warning that Aldrich was “certain” to commit murder if freed, granted defense attorneys’ motion to dismiss the case because a deadline was looming to bring it to trial.

There was no discussion at that July hearing about Aldrich’s mental health treatment, violent past, or exploring options to compel Aldrich’s grandparents and mother to testify.

Details of the failed 2021 prosecution — laid out in 13 court hearing transcripts obtained by the AP — paint a picture of potential missteps in the case against Aldrich and raise more questions about whether enough was done to stop the recent mass shooting.