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US LGBTQ Club Shooter Given Another 55 Life Sentences

US LGBTQ Club Shooter Given Another 55 Life Sentences
(AP)

Tuesday, 18 June 2024 05:06 PM EDT

A mass shooter who killed five people at an LGBTQ club in the US state of Colorado pleaded guilty to hate crimes Tuesday over the horrifying 2022 massacre and was given another hefty sentence.

Anderson Lee Aldrich was already serving five life sentences for the gun rampage at Club Q in Colorado Springs that also injured 22 people.

A US district judge added a further 55 life sentences and an extra 190 years to that tariff after hearing how Aldrich specifically targeted members of the LGBTQ community with a $9,000 arsenal he had spent two years amassing.

"You went to this community's safe place and mass-murdered people, but I hope what you learned today is this community is much stronger than you," judge Charlotte Sweeney said, noting it was appropriate to sentence Aldrich during Pride Month.

"This community is stronger than your armor, stronger than your weapons, and it's sure as heck stronger than your hatred."

Federal hate crime charges carry stiff penalties in the United States, and people convicted of them can face the death penalty, but prosecutors agreed to take that off the table in return for Aldrich's 74 guilty pleas.

Aldrich walked into Club Q on November 19, 2022, shooting five people dead with an AR-15-style assault rifle.

Two patrons of the club eventually wrestled the heavyset and bearded shooter to the ground, detaining Aldrich until police arrived.

In court filings federal prosecutors said Aldrich vented online before carrying out the crime.

"The defendant used an online platform... to disseminate a manifesto purportedly authored by someone who committed a mass shooting earlier that year," documents said.

"This link revealed predominantly racist and anti-Semitic beliefs but also the following statement, 'Transgenderism, however, is a mental illness and should be addressed as such.'"

A week before the shooting Aldrich posted a photo depicting a rifle sight over a gay pride parade with the comment "lol," the document said.

Defense attorneys have said Aldrich, 24, identifies as non-binary. Federal prosecutors have used gender-neutral terms in filings, but state prosecutors have reportedly said there is "zero evidence" the attacker identified as non-binary before the horrific episode.

The Club Q shooting was the latest in a long line of attacks on LGBTQ venues in the United States, the deadliest of which claimed 49 lives at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in 2016.

Members of the LGBTQ community have expressed alarm at what they say is an uptick in hateful rhetoric ahead of a bitterly contested presidential election this November in which incumbent Joe Biden is being challenged by Donald Trump.

LGBTQ rights are a contentious issue in America's so-called "culture wars," which pit liberal values against those of conservatives.

With more firearms than inhabitants, the United States has the highest rate of gun deaths of any developed country.

© AFP 2024


Newsfront
A mass shooter who killed five people at an LGBTQ club in the US state of Colorado pleaded guilty to hate crimes Tuesday over the horrifying 2022 massacre and was given another hefty sentence.Anderson Lee Aldrich was already serving five life sentences for the gun rampage...
shooting, lgbtq
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2024-06-18
Tuesday, 18 June 2024 05:06 PM
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