The accused shooter in the deadly mass shooting at a Colorado LGBTQ nightclub was previously arrested over an alleged bomb threat incident last year, though the case was dismissed after the suspect’s family refused to testify, the local district attorney said Thursday.
The circumstances around the 2021 arrest have faced much scrutiny after the suspect — 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich — was arrested in connection with the Nov. 19 shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, which killed five people and wounded more than a dozen others. Aldrich faces 305 charges, including first-degree murder, attempted murder, assault and bias-motivated crimes, in the shooting.
The 2021 case was sealed upon its conclusion, though a judge ruled Thursday that it be unsealed. It is unclear when the unsealed documents will be posted online.
In June 2021, Aldrich was arrested in an alleged bomb threat incident after their mother alerted authorities that they were “threatening to cause harm to her with a homemade bomb, multiple weapons and ammunition,” according to a press release posted online last year by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.
Colorado Springs resident Leslie Bowman told ABC News that she was renting a room to Aldrich’s mother, Laura Voepel, at the time of the bomb threat incident, and that Aldrich livestreamed a “shocking” video via Voepel’s Facebook account from inside Bowman’s home while authorities were outside. The footage showed Aldrich with a gun as well as a helmet and vest that resembled body armor. Security cameras at Bowman’s home also captured Aldrich entering the residence that day and surrendering to authorities hours later.
No explosives were found. Aldrich was booked into the El Paso County Jail on two counts of felony menacing and three counts of first-degree kidnapping, according to the sheriff’s office. A judge ultimately dismissed the case.
El Paso County District Attorney Michael Allen defended his office’s handling of the 2021 incident, telling reporters Thursday that his office pursued the case but were not able to subpoena Aldrich’s mother or grandmother — whom he said had previously made concerning statements to police about Aldrich — to testify against the suspect. Since the prosecution could not put forward victims in the timeframe for a speedy trial, the judge dismissed the case, Allen said.
“The court did not act inappropriately in that regard,” Allen said during a press briefing Thursday, arguing that the victims not cooperating “led to the dismissal of that case.”
“This office absolutely prosecuted it. We prosecuted it until we couldn’t prosecute it any longer. And it would not have prevented the Club Q shooting,” he said.
The records in the 2021 case were previously sealed at the request of the defendant, Allen said. The sealed records have led to “confusion” for the public in the wake of the Club Q shooting, he said.
“That confusion then leads to frustration and anger,” Allen said during the briefing, which he said was to “provide truth” on the prior investigation.
Before the 2021 case was dismissed, two guns were confiscated from Aldrich and remain in evidence, according to Allen.
Aldrich was able to legally purchase the assault-style rifle allegedly used in the Club Q shooting, officials briefed on the investigation told ABC News.