DENVER (AP) – Authorities said the person who would later kill five at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado was on the FBI’s radar a day before her arrest on charges of threatening to kill family members, but agents had the Case closed just weeks later.
The FBI’s disclosure to The Associated Press creates a new timeline for when law enforcement was first alerted to Anderson Lee Aldrich as a potential threat. It was previously believed that Aldrich only became known to authorities after he made the threat on June 18, 2021.
The details of the June 17, 2021 tip to the FBI are not known. But the next day, Aldrich’s grandparents ran out of their Colorado Springs home and called 911. They said Aldrich was building a bomb in the basement and threatened to kill it. Details of the case remain sealed, but an AP-verified arrest affidavit explained how upset Aldrich was that the grandparents were moving to Florida because it would get in the way of Aldrich’s plans to carry out mass shootings and bombings.
The grandparents were concerned for Aldrich even before the 911 call, the document said, as the grandmother told authorities she and her husband had been “living in fear” over Aldrich’s “recent death threats against her and others.”
CONTINUE READING: The Club Q patron who helped stop the shooter said he wanted to “save the family I found”.
As part of the FBI’s investigation, the agency said it was coordinating with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office responding to the June 18, 2021 call from Aldrich’s grandparents and the now 22-year-old Aldrich for felony threats and kidnapping arrested. But about a month after receiving the tip, the FBI completed its evaluation of Aldrich, who is non-binary and uses she/them pronouns.
“With the state indictments pending, the FBI completed its evaluation on July 15, 2021,” the FBI said.
Those charges were later dropped for unknown reasons. Under Colorado law, cases dismissed by either prosecutors or a judge are automatically sealed to prevent people from ruining their lives if not prosecuted. Authorities invoked the law when they refused to answer questions about the case, but a coalition of media organizations including the AP have asked the court to unseal the records.
A spokesman for the sheriff’s office, Sgt. Jason Garrett, declined to comment on the FBI’s statement or whether his agency had any tips on Aldrich prior to Aldrich’s arrest in 2021, citing the Seal Act.
The shooting happened more than a year later at Club Q just before midnight on November 19, when Aldrich opened fire as soon as they entered the club, firing indiscriminately with an AR-15 rifle while wearing a ballistic vest, according to an arrest carried affidavit written the day after the shooting but was not unsealed until Wednesday night.
The affidavit does not provide any new information about what motivated Aldrich, but says that shortly after the shooting, Aldrich expressed remorse to the medical staff and said they had been awake for four days, according to police officers who checked their room at the hospital guarded. It contains no more of what Aldrich may have told investigators.
The document also includes an image from the club’s surveillance video showing an explosion coming out of the gun barrel as Aldrich entered the club.
Aldrich’s mother told police they were supposed to go to the cinema at 10 p.m. that night, about two hours before the attack, but said Aldrich left before that and said they had to run errands quickly.
The FBI is now helping to solve the shooting. Xavier Kraus, a former neighbor of Aldrich and her mother, told the AP on Wednesday agents had been interviewing him over the past few days through a free-speech website created by Aldrich that contained a series of violent posts that glorified violence and racism.
CONTINUE READING: The alleged LGBTQ nightclub that was shooting fled Colorado’s red flag gun law
“It was meant for people to go and say whatever they want, except for the two rules: no spamming and no child pornography,” Kraus said. “If I had known what would become of it, it would have struck a different nerve with me.”
Kraus said that after the bomb threat charges were dropped, Aldrich began boasting about recovering the guns and once showed Kraus two assault rifles, body armor and incendiary rounds.
Kraus said Aldrich was “talking about bullets that could penetrate police-grade armor,” said Kraus, who said it seemed like Aldrich was hoping someone would break into their home.
The information provided to the FBI about Aldrich, which was not previously reported, represents the earliest known case of law enforcement officials being warned about Aldrich, and the shooting is the latest attack that has raised questions about whether those who once attracted the attention of the… Law-roused enforcement should have stayed on the FBI’s radar.
On the night of November 19, more than a year after the investigation concluded, authorities said Aldrich entered the Colorado Springs gay nightclub Club Q with an AR-15 rifle and opened fire, killing five people and 17 others injured before an army veteran wrestled the attacker to the ground.
An FBI evaluation is the lowest, least intrusive, and most elemental phase of an FBI investigation. Such assessments routinely open after agents receive a lead, and investigators routinely face the challenge of considering which of the tens of thousands of leads that come in each year could pose a viable threat.
There have been several high-profile examples of the FBI obtaining information about a shooter prior to a mass shooting. A month before Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people at a Florida high school, the FBI received an alert that he had discussed a mass shooting. A man who massacred 49 people at an Orlando nightclub in 2016 and another who detonated bombs on the streets of New York City that same year had each been investigated by federal agents, but officials later found they had no continued investigation justified by law enforcement agencies.
FBI policies, designed to balance national security with protecting civil rights, limit the steps agents can take during the evaluation phase. For example, agents can analyze information from government databases and open-source web searches, and conduct interviews during an assessment. But they cannot turn to more intrusive techniques, such as B. requesting a wiretapping or internet communication, without a higher level of consent and a more solid basis for suspecting a crime.
More than 10,000 assessments are opened every year. Many are shut down within days or weeks if the FBI determines there is no criminal or national security threat or basis for continued investigation. The system is designed to ensure that a person who hasn’t broken the law isn’t kept under constant surveillance based on a mere hunch – and that the FBI can reserve its resources for real threats.
Mustian reported from Colorado Springs. Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo and Lindsay Whitehurst contributed to this report from Washington.