Colorado Springs LGBTQ+ club shooter Anderson Lee Aldrich sentenced to multiple life sentences

A man who killed five people in a shooting at an LGBTQ+ club has been sentenced to 55 life terms in prison.

Anderson Lee Aldrich entered Club Q - a sanctuary for LGBTQ+ people in the conservative city of Colorado Springs - with a semi-automatic rifle and a handgun during a drag show in November 2022.

The attack left a further 19 people injured, including a staff member who was working the door and remains in physical therapy after being shot nine times.

Aldrich today pleaded guilty to federal hate crime charges - but declined to apologise or address the victims' families.

He is already serving life in prison after pleading guilty to state charges in the shooting.

Federal prosecutors focused on proving the attack was premeditated and fuelled by bias - and the plea deal meant Aldrich repeatedly admitted to evidence of hatred towards LGBTQ+ people.

"The admission that these were hate crimes is important to the government, and it's important to the community of Club Q," said prosecutor Alison Connaughty.

"It's a special gathering place for anyone who needed community and anyone who needed that safe place," she said. "We met people who said 'this venue saved my life and I was able to feel normal again.'"

District Judge Charlotte Sweeney - the first openly gay federal judge in Colorado - heard testimony from victims before accepting the plea agreement, which also includes a total of 190 years on gun charges and other counts.

She told Aldrich: "You will never get out of prison."

The court heard investigators uncovered evidence of Aldrich's hate for the LGBTQ+ community - including a target with a rainbow ring that had bullets in it at his house, and two websites he created to post hate-related content.

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He spent more than $9,000 on weapons-related purchases in the two years leading up to the attack, according to evidence presented by prosecutors.

A hand-drawn map of Club Q was also found at his apartment, along with a black binder of training material entitled 'How to handle an active shooter'.

Aldrich visited the club at least eight times before the attack - doing so just an hour and half before the shooting.

Just before midnight, he returned wearing a tactical vest with ballistics and an AR-15 style rifle.

He began firing immediately and killed the first person in the entryway, before shooting at bartenders and people at the bar then moving to the dancefloor.

Aldrich was stopped by a Navy officer who grabbed the barrel of the rifle, burning his hand, and an Army veteran who subdued him.