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Suspect in gay bar shooting that killed 5 facing murder, hate crime charges

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APTOPIX Colorado Springs-Shooting

Tyler Johnston, left, his fiance Keenan Mestas-Holmes, center, and their friend Atlas Pretzeus hug one another while paying their respects at a makeshift memorial near Club Q on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022 in Colorado Springs, Colo. The trio have close friends that were involved in the shooting. An attacker opened fire in a gay nightclub late Saturday night. 

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — The man suspected of killing five people and injuring others at a gay bar in Colorado Springs is facing murder and hate crime charges, according to online court records obtained Monday.

Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, faces five murder charges and five charges of committing a bias-motivated crime causing bodily injury, the records show.

A law enforcement official said the suspect used an AR-15-style semiautomatic weapon in Saturday night's attack, but a handgun and additional ammunition magazines also were recovered. The official could not discuss details of the investigation publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

At least five people are dead after a shooting at a gay nightclub in Colorado. Two other people who were inside are being hailed as heroes for subduing the shooter in a matter of minutes and possibly preventing other deaths.

Information on a lawyer who could speak on Aldrich's behalf wasn't immediately available Monday.

Club Q on its Facebook page thanked the "quick reactions of heroic customers that subdued the gunman and ended this hate attack."

Already questions were being raised about why authorities didn't seek to take Aldrich's guns away from him in 2021, when he was arrested after his mother reported he threatened her with a homemade bomb and other weapons.

Though authorities at the time said no explosives were found, gun control advocates are asking why police didn't try to trigger Colorado's "red flag" law, which would have allowed authorities to seize the weapons his mother says he had. There's also no public record prosecutors ever moved forward with felony kidnapping and menacing charges against Aldrich.

Mayor John Suthers said on NBC's "Today" that the district attorney would file motions in court Monday to allow law enforcement to talk more about any criminal history "that this individual might have had."

Of the 25 injured at Club Q, at least seven were in critical condition, authorities said. Some were hurt trying to flee, and it was unclear if all of them were shot, a police spokesperson said. Suthers told The Associated Press there was "reason to hope" all of those hospitalized would recover. Full story:

Bedayn is a corps member for The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

Associated Press reporters Colleen Slevin in Denver, Michael Balsamo in Washington, Jamie Stengle in Dallas, Jeff McMillan in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Matthew Brown in Billings, Montana, contributed.

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