Anderson Lee Aldrich: Colorado Springs shooting suspect accused a newspaper of ‘damaging’ their reputation

Months before Colorado Springs suspect Anderson Lee Aldrich allegedly opened fire at an LGBT+ nightclub, they left an ominous and accusatory voicemail for a local newspaper that had opened an investigation into their past run-ins with law enforcement.

The Colorado Springs Gazette released a recording of the voicemail left at his office on Aug. 26, just three months before the 22-year-old, who was booked into the El Paso County Jail on Tuesday and is being held without bail, was due to be arrested for allegedly carrying out a massacre that left five dead and another 18 wounded.

Aldrich, who identifies as non-binary according to their lawyers, was seen in court on Wednesday via video stream with numerous apparent injuries to the face and neck. According to club patrons, several Club Q patrons tackled the 22-year-old and managed to wrestle away the AR-style rifle they were carrying.

The voicemail published by the Gazette reveals an audibly furious Aldrich requesting that the reporters and editors responsible for a news story about an alleged bomb scare against their mother be removed or edited from the outlet’s website.

They argued that their records had been sealed and that the content of the story was “defamatory”.

“There’s nothing at all, the case has been dropped and I’m asking you to delete or update the story,” Aldrich is heard saying in August’s voicemail.

The story in question from June 2021 is about an incident in which the then 21-year-old allegedly threatened their mother with a homemade bomb.

While that incident led to an explosive ordnance disposal squad appearing at the home and forcing neighbors to evacuate surrounding homes, the allegations of menacing crimes and three counts of first-degree kidnapping were not prosecuted as formal charges in the case, which was later sealed . .

However, a report of the article on the incident remained live on the Colorado Springs outlet’s website, prompting Aldrich to contact the paper last summer over concerns that the report of the incident was damaging their reputation.

“I am requesting its removal as the entire case has been dismissed and everything currently on your website is defamatory,” can be heard in the recording, which says a person in the voicemail, who identifies himself at the beginning of the conversation as ” Anderson Lee Aldrich”.

“It is damaging to my reputation and since the case was dismissed, I would like you to delete or update this article as soon as possible to include nothing but factual information, to include nothing but factual facts,” say they. , before closing on the line that “you must delete the item”.

Booking photo of Anderson Lee Aldrich, suspect in the Colorado Springs nightclub mass shooting

(AP)

The Gazette notes in the article that shared the voicemail since published that the editors can make the decision to remove names from the archives “only in rare circumstances when information is inaccurate or out of date.”

On the same day, the voicemail was left at the Gazettea reporter called the number that left the voicemail, which was listed as belonging to Aldrich’s step-grandfather, Jonathan Pullen.

The person who answered the call refused to confirm they were Aldrich unless the reporter calling from the Gazette explained their intent to call the Colorado home.

“During the conversation, Aldrich asked for that again The Gazette remove coverage of bomb threats from their website as it could harm his job search and his credibility with future employers,” the paper reported, citing details of the phone call in an article published this week, just days away after the Club Q massacre happened.

According to the local news outlet’s coverage, the court had filed a “motion not to proceed,” Aldrich had said, claiming that their case “should have been dismissed from the start.”

The reporter then informed Aldrich that the news outlet could confirm that no record of arrest or arrest allegations existed, but noted that the newspaper would not be able to proceed with editing the archived June 2021 article until it consulted with the editor and verified Aldrich’s account. have confirmed. events with the prosecutor.

During the subsequent August 2022 phone call, the reporter pressed Aldrich for more details about the alleged bomb threat that led to the press release from the sheriff’s office in the first place.

Included in that press release, the reporter noted, was an account that Aldrich’s own mother had been the person to enlist the police’s help after they reportedly threatened to “harm her with a home-made bomb, multiple guns” . and ammunition.” The reporter also asked about other details in the press release, including an allegation of kidnapping and a confrontation with deputies.

“That’s all false,” Aldrich told the Gazette reporter, before accusing the sheriff’s office of pressing charges “without evidence.”

“They tried to bury me under (the allegations) and keep me behind bars,” Aldrich said, sounding calmer than their more “accusatory” voicemail, according to the reporter.

The Gazette had also contacted the state’s district attorney to verify Aldrich’s claims on the same day of the Aug. 31 phone call. Attorney General’s Office spokesman Howard Black said during that conversation that he could only confirm that “the file does not exist” on the said suspect.

District Attorney Michael Allen said this kind of response about sealed cases is standard practice, he said at a news conference Monday.

Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, the suspect in the mass shooting that killed five people and injured 17 at an LGBTQ nightclub, appears before a judge along with public defenders Joseph Archambault and Michael Bowman at their hearing in a video link from the jail. side and in a wheelchair and showing facial injuries in a still image from a video in Colorado Springs, Colorado

(via REUTERS)

“(A statute) requires us to give very specific answers to questions about matters that may or may not be covered by a seal warrant,” Mr Allen said, according to the Gazettewhen asked if he was aware of the 2021 incident involving Aldrich.

“That statute requires us to say in response to questions about (a sealed case) that no such record exists.”

News of Aldrich’s previous run-ins with law enforcement has raised a new specter of scrutiny regarding Colorado’s red flag laws, which are designed to prevent individuals who show signs of a threat to themselves or others from purchasing any type of firearm or possess.

Firearms advocates who spoke to The Associated Press note how red flag laws, rarely used in Aldrich’s homeland of El Paso County, could have at least brought the 22-year-old notoriety to law enforcement officials leading up to Saturday. . violent and bloody attack.

“We need heroes up front — parents, colleagues, friends who see someone walking this path,” said Colorado State Representative Tom Sullivan, whose son was killed in the shooting at the Aurora theater and sponsored the red flag law that was adopted in 2019. “This should have alerted them, put him on their radar.”

On Wednesday, Aldrich appeared in court for the first time. The motive for the shooting is still under investigation, but authorities said Aldrich may face charges of murder and hate crimes.

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