The suspect, Anderson Lee Aldrich, had several prior run-ins with law enforcement, including reportedly threatening his mother with a homemade bomb in June 2021. He was arrested and charged with menacing and first-degree kidnapping, and found with “multiple weapons.”
However, his mother refused to cooperate with investigators in the case, and Aldrich was not prosecuted. The records of the case were sealed afterwards, helping him evade Colorado’s red flag law, which allows law enforcement to seize firearms from a person deemed a threat to themselves or others.
“We need heroes beforehand — parents, co-workers, friends who are seeing someone go down this path,” said Colorado state Rep. Tom Sullivan, who sponsored the state’s “red flag” law, which passed in 2019. “This should have alerted them, put him on their radar.”
Experts pointed out that if Aldrich had been prosecuted for the 2021 bomb threat, Saturday’s shooting might very well have been prevented.
“It’s definitely not just gun-control advocates asking this. Why wasn’t he prosecuted for the multiple felonies involved with the bomb threat. Why wasn’t the state’s red flag law used in this case?” asked gun rights activist Stephen Gutowski.
Others, however, noted that “red flags” rarely way the work they are intended:
In her effort to take credit for getting a red flag law passed she inadvertently admits it was useless in preventing the crime. Jean-yus! https://t.co/QVDrpRXeM7
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) November 17, 2022
Aldrich is now facing five counts of first-degree murder and five counts of a bias-motivated crime causing bodily injury after he opened fire on a crowd in Club Q on Saturday. In addition to the five people who were killed, another 25 were injured, including 19 who were shot, according to Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers.
A spokesperson for the district attorney’s office, Howard Black, said the investigation into Saturday’s shooting will also include a study of the 2021 bomb threat.
“There will be no additional information released at this time,” Black said. “These are still investigative questions.”