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Suspect in Colorado LGBTQ nightclub massacre is charged with 305 counts, including murder and hate crimes

NBC News 12/6/2022 David K. Li

The suspect in last month's deadly rampage at a Colorado LGBTQ nightclub was charged Tuesday with 305 criminal counts in what could be the most heavily prosecuted murder case in state history, authorities said.

Anderson Lee Aldrich is suspected of killing five people and wounding 17 others on Nov. 19 at Club Q in Colorado Springs. Five more were injured but not by gunshots. Twelve others were victims with no visible injuries, police said.

The 305 charges filed in court include first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault and bias-motivated crimes, District Attorney Michael Allen told the court.

Allen said he couldn't recall a murder trial with so many counts.

“At least to my knowledge, I think it’s probably the most charges that we’ve ever filed in a single case, on a murder case like this in the state of Colorado," Allen told reporters after the hearing. "But there could be others out there that I’m just not thinking of right now.”

Lawyers on both sides asked the judge to schedule Aldrich's preliminary hearing for May.

Mourners gather at a memorial for the victims of a mass shooting at Club Q (Parker Seibold / The Gazette via AP file) © Provided by NBC News Mourners gather at a memorial for the victims of a mass shooting at Club Q (Parker Seibold / The Gazette via AP file)

Allen cited his own busy trial schedule and said defense lawyers will need time to go over all of the evidence against their client.

“This case we expect to be very voluminous (and) will probably take some time for defense (lawyers) to digest it and be ready for presentation of evidence at a preliminary hearing,” Allen told the court.

But 4th Judicial District Judge Michael McHenry insisted the hearing can start sooner and ordered both sides to be ready on Feb. 22 for a preliminary hearing he expected to last two days.

“I would be surprised if we get to an actual jury trial sometime in 2023," Allen later told reporters. "I suspect it’ll be sometime later than that.”

Aldrich sat alongside defense lawyers, wearing a fluorescent lime jail uniform and appearing attentive throughout the proceeding.

Tuesday's pre-trial hearing was the first time the public saw Aldrich since Nov. 23 when the 22-year-old made an initial court appearance.

The suspect, who was roughed up by club patrons who desperately fought back during the shooting, appeared lethargic that day and struggled to sit upright in a wheelchair.

Booking mug shots showed numerous cuts all over the suspect's face, a black, swollen left eye and a bruise behind the left ear. Aldrich is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns.

“At the very first setting, the suspect’s demeanor and body were much different than today," Allen said after the hearing.

They "walked into the courtroom today (and) appears to have healed, to some degree, form the bruising that was apparent on (their) face at the last setting."

Witnesses have credited the fast action of Army veteran Richard Fierro, 45, and another person for pouncing on the gunman and limiting the carnage.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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