COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A judge ruled Thursday that records from a previous incident involving the accused Club Q nightclub shooter would be unsealed, allowing the public more details about a bomb scare allegedly caused by the suspect months before he was accused of killing five people.
District Court Judge Robin Chittum found the public’s interest in the case “far outweighed” Anderson Aldrich’s right to privacy and concerns about tainting the pool of potential jurors. The judge that the public interest “is so great I would even call it profound.”
The judge added that scrutiny of judicial cases is “foundational to our system of government.”
“The only way for that scrutiny to occur is for this to be unsealed,” Chittum said.
It’s unclear when the documents will be released, though court officials say the case is being examined and will be made public as soon as possible.
The judge’s order to release the records comes after several news organizations, including USA TODAY, sought to have the documents unsealed. The judge’s ruling also came despite objections from State Public Defender Joseph Archambault, a chief trial deputy with the state public defender’s office representing Aldrich.
Archambault argued unsealing the documents would end any chance of Aldrich receiving a fair trial, noting the charges from the previous incident were never proven to a jury.
Archambault contends the coverage is “already painting Aldrich as guilty,” and there’s no way he could be seen as innocent. Aldrich is accused of fatally shooting five people and injuring 17 others at Club Q on Nov. 19.
“Unsealing the documents would end any hope of a fair trial,” Archambault said.
According to leaked documents verified by AP, authorities responded to the home of Aldrich’s mother on June 18, 2021, after Aldrich, whose attorneys say is nonbinary and uses they/them/theirs pronouns, allegedly threatened their mother with a homemade bomb. The incident forced neighbors to evacuate and police crisis negotiators to respond before he surrendered. Aldrich was arrested for menacing and kidnapping, the AP reported.
Records from that arrest were previously sealed under a law meant to prevent unprosecuted arrests from ruining people’s lives after prosecutors decline to pursue charges.
Aldrich’s grandparents called 911 that day, AP reported, saying their grandchild was building a bomb in their basement and had threatened them. According to the now unsealed records, Aldrich told their grandparents they were planning to “conduct a mass shooting and bombing.”
Aldrich was charged Tuesday with 305 counts in the mass shooting at the LGBTQ nightclub, including murder, attempted murder, assault, and hate crime charges, with additional violent crime specifications.
More:Suspect in Colorado shooting at LGBTQ nightclub charged with 305 counts, including hate crimes, murder
In an arrest affidavit released Wednesday evening, Detective J. Gasper stated that Aldrich entered Club Q on Jan. 19 shortly before midnight with an AR-platform rifle and a pistol, opening fire almost immediately after entering the clubs’ main area.
More:Colorado Springs shooting suspect was on the FBI’s radar a day before threatening family in 2021
In the Wednesday filing, Detective J. Gasper, one of the responding officers, described the bloody scene at the club after the arrest was made, adding there was “medical intervention debris, and clothing items scattered” outside the club.
The records are set to be released by the 4th Judicial District Clerk’s Office on the Colorado 4th District cases of interest page.
The 4th Judicial District Attorney’s office is scheduled to hold a press conference at 1:30 MT Thursday.
Justin Reutter of the Pueblo Chieftain, part of the USA TODAY Network, reported from Colorado Springs. Terry Collins of USA TODAY reported from Oakland, Calif.
Story Credit: usatoday.com