By COLLEEN SLEVIN, THOMAS PEIPERT, JESSE BEDAYN and BRITTANY PETERSON
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub was ordered held without bail in an initial court appearance Wednesday as the suspect sat slumped over in a chair.
Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, could be seen with injuries visible on their face and head in a brief video appearance from jail. Aldrich appeared to need prompting by defense attorneys and offered a slurred response when asked to state their name by El Paso County Court Judge Charlotte Ankeny.
The suspect was beaten into submission by patrons during Saturday night’s shooting at Club Q and released from the hospital Tuesday. The motive in the shooting was still under investigation, but authorities said Aldrich faces possible murder and hate crime charges.
Hate crime charges would require proving that the shooter was motivated by bias, such as against the victims’ actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The charges against Aldrich are preliminary, and prosecutors have not yet filed formal charges.
Defense attorneys said late Tuesday that the suspect is nonbinary and in court filings referred to the suspect as “Mx. Aldrich.” The attorneys’ footnotes assert that Aldrich is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns.
Prosecutor Michael Allen repeatedly referred to the suspect as “he” during a press briefing after the hearing and said the suspect’s gender status would not change anything about the case in his opinion. Allen said Aldrich was “physically competent” to stand charges.
Ankeny set the next hearing for Dec. 6.
Of 17 people injured by gunshots in the attack, 11 remained hospitalized late Wednesday, officials said.
Aldrich’s name was changed more than six years ago as a teenager, after filing a legal petition in Texas seeking to “protect himself” from a father with a criminal history including domestic violence against Aldrich’s mother.