Less than a day before Colorado Springs mass shooting suspect Anderson Lee Aldrich allegedly opened fire at an LGBT+nightclub, their mother posted a chilling message about her child on Facebook.
“My son is missing,” wrote Laura Voepel, the mother of the 22-year-old mass shooting suspect accused of carrying out the massacre at Club Q that left five people dead and more than a dozen injured, Inside Edition first reported.
“He took my phone and my debit card. We had plans and were so excited,” added Ms Voepel.
She also shared the last message her child had sent her just one day before the deadly shooting: “Get ready to have the best night ever.”
Just before midnight on Saturday, Ms Voepel’s child Aldrich allegedly walked into the popular LGBT+ dance venue in Colorado Springs, and opening fire with a rifle that was reportedly purchased legally.
It’s just the latest in a flurry of details about the suspected shooter’s history and personal relationships with family members to be unearthed in the days since the brutal massacre that has led many to scrutinise how the 22-year-old was able to legally purchase firearms.
According to CNN, law enforcement sources say the suspect appears to have legally purchased both guns – a semi-automatic rifle and a handgun – that were allegedly used in Saturday’s deadly assault.
Aldrich, who allegedly identifies as nonbinary, is now facing preliminary charges including five counts of murder along with five charges of committing a bias-motivated crime causing bodily injury over Saturday night’s massacre.
One of the central critiques about Aldrich ability to legally purchase firearms stems from an incident that occurred about a year and a half before they were arrested for their involvement in the Colorado Springs gay nightclub shooting.
In June 2021, Aldrich, then 21 years old, allegedly threatened their mother with a homemade bomb, forcing neighbors in surrounding homes to evacuate while the bomb squad and crisis negotiators talked them into surrendering.
According to a press release from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office at the time, Ms Voepel had called 911 and informed them that her child was “threatening to cause harm to her with a homemade bomb, multiple weapons, and ammunition.” The standoff reportedly lasted for three hours before police were able to talk Aldrich down and deescalate the situation.
Aldrich was booked on two counts of felony menacing and three counts of first-degree kidnapping, but the 21-year-old was never formally charged, and the case was sealed, meaning anyone inquiring about the incident would be told “no such record exists”, said District Attorney Michael Allen on Monday.
“The red flag question is something that I think none of us up here are in a position to answer,” Mr Allen said, after being asked by a reporter about Aldrich’s past brushes with law enforcement and how that didn’t set off the state laws designed to stop dangerous people from getting hold of such weapons.
“Colorado has very restrictive sealing laws. What that means is that if a case is filed in a courtroom in the State of Colorado and is dismissed for any reason… it is automatically sealed,” he added, before explaining exactly how agents would respond if they were asked about a sealed case.
“That is a change in the law that occurred back in 2019. That same statute requires us to give very specific answers… to say in responded to questions about it that ‘no such record exists.’”
Mr Allen noted that the 10 “arrest only” charges of first-degree murder and committing a bias-motivated crime causing bodily injury would likely be updated when formal charges are eventually filed with the court.
On Wednesday, Aldrich made their first appearance in court via video stream where a judge denied the 22-year-old suspect bail. The motive in the shooting is still under investigation, but authorities said Aldrich faces possible murder and hate crime charges.
The next court date is set for 6 December at 8.30am local time, but that appearance may shift due to a scheduling conflict with the defence.
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