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Guilty of Hate

An LGBTQ shooter pleads guilty to hate crimes
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Photos of Kelly Loving (left to right), Derrick Rump, Ashley Paugh, Raymond Green Vance and Daniel Aston stand above a memorial outside of Colorado Springs’ Club Q. Nov. 22, 2022.

On Saturday Nov. 19, 2022, Club Q, a Colorado Springs gay nightclub, when it was subjected to a hate crime. After killing five and endangering over 40 others, the killer is finally paying for his crimes in 2024.

Club Q is a gay and lesbian nightclub that has drag shows on Saturday nights and even “all-age” Sunday brunches and has been a safe space for members of the LGBTQ+ community for 20 years.

If it wasn’t for the brave club attendee, the events that happened on Nov. 19th could have been even more appalling. The attendee happened to grab a handgun from Aldrich, hitting him with it and pinning him to the ground until law enforcement were able to arrest him.

According to AP news, Joshua Thurman a club attendee said, “I could have lost my life — over what? What was the purpose?” he said as tears ran down his cheeks. “We were just enjoying ourselves. We weren’t out harming anyone. We were in our space, our community, our home, enjoying ourselves like everybody else does.”

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Aldrich was at first unclear of his motivations for the shooting and was uncooperative with any interview given by law enforcement and media. To charge Aldrich with a hate-crime it would need to be proven that Aldrich was “called to action” by the nightclub’s sexual orientation or the victim’s sexual orientation. In a court of law, that is extremely difficult to prove.

In June of 2023, Aldrich faced five murder charges and 46 counts of attempted murder. Which is one for each of the lives he attempted taking and the ones he did take. He was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty. 

The victims believed these charges were not enough and fought for Aldrich to be further charged. As of this year, Aldrich plead guilty to 50 hate crime charges and 24 firearm violations. This leaves Aldrich with multiple life sentences and a 190 year sentence on top of those charges. 

According to AP news, Jeff Aston, whose son Daniel Aston was shot and killed in the attack, listened remotely to the hearing. “This was a hateful, stupid, heinous and cowardly act,’ Aston said, adding that he’d like to see Aldrich suffer as much as the victims and their family members.”

The events that took place are tragic, although they are not the first. Before Club Q’s shooting, Colorado has been subjected to several other mass shootings. The shooting of Columbine High school being the most notorious shooting to take place, killing 13 and wounding 20.

According to AP news, “Since 2006, there have been 523 mass killings and 2,727 deaths as of Nov. 19, according to The Associated Press/USA Today database on mass killings in the U.S.That is only 17 years and around 30 shootings a year. 

Mass killings and shootings affect many people and not just the victims. A mass killing leaves behind distraught family members and a terrified community. It’s a wonder that they are so common in American culture and society. This begs the question “Why?”

Excluding the fact that American gun control has been a hot debate for several years. The rise of depression and widespread use of social media could be a leading factor of why shootings are so prevalent in society. 

According to AP news, “America’s toxic mix of bigotry and absurdly easy access to firearms means that such events are all too common and LGBTQ+ people, BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) communities, the Jewish community and other vulnerable populations pay the price again and again for our political leadership’s failure to act,” CEO of a national LGBTQ-rights organization, Kevin Jennings of Lambda Legal, said.

American gun leniency is nothing knew to any American citizen and is one of the very first amendments in the U.S. constitution, but Americans have to ask themselves, “At what price?”

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MJ Ideus
MJ Ideus, Copy Editor
MJ Ideus is a Senior Tigers’ Eye Newspaper Copy Editor. She joined because she enjoys writing and providing information to students about the school. In her free time she practices Colorguard, listens to music and reads. When she is able to she tries to get into Theater.
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