EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition announced Thursday morning that an El Paso County District Court judge has ordered the records related to a 2021 bomb threat arrest of the Club Q shooting suspect be unsealed.
The Colorado FOIC said the judge declared the public interest in the case is “so significant, I would even call it profound” and it outweighs the defendant’s privacy interests.
“Attorney and CFOIC president Steve Zansberg led a media coalition asking for the records to be unsealed. The judge said she didn’t need testimony to understand that the new allegations against [Anderson] Aldrich are enough to trigger a statutory provision allowing the unsealing of records,” CoFOIC shared.
The judge told CoFOIC that the provision allowing the unsealing of the record was, “written for this type of a scenario where something huge comes out of the woodwork and demands scrutiny from the public.”
Police allege Anderson Aldrich, 22, was the shooter that night at Club Q in Colorado Springs.
2021 bomb threat in El Paso County
In June 2021, deputies with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office charged a man with the same name as the Club Q shooting suspect with two counts of felony menacing and three counts of first-degree kidnapping.
A press release from the Sheriff’s Office on June 18, 2021, stated, “The reporting party said her son was threatening to cause harm to her with a homemade bomb, multiple weapons, and ammunition. The reporting party was not in the home at the time when she made the call and was not sure where her son was.”
Deputies later arrested Aldrich in the 6300 block of Pilgrimage Road after evacuating 10 homes in the area.
Initially, sources told the Problem Solvers that charges in the bomb threat case were dismissed because the victims (the suspect’s mother) refused to cooperate with investigators.
During a news conference Thursday, District Attorney Michael J. Allen said that his office attempted to serve the witnesses/victims in this case, which included the suspect’s grandparents, but was ultimately unsuccessful in making contact with them.
“They didn’t cooperate, and it led to the dismissal of that case, but this office absolutely prosecuted it,” Allen said. “We prosecuted it until we couldn’t prosecute any longer, and it would not have prevented the Club Q Shooting.”
Allen explained that during this prior arrest, EPCSO seized bomb-making materials and two guns. Allen said one of the guns was a rifle and the other was a 9mm pistol noted in the evidence log as a ghost gun with no serial number, no model and no make.
“It’s important to note that both of those weapons are still in the custody of the sheriff’s office today,” Allen said. “In fact, after the Club Q shooting, I was able to look at those items because they remain in evidence and were never turned back over to the defendant.”
ESPCO stated that On Aug. 12 of this year Aldrich called the sheriff’s office evidence facility to seek the release of all weapons. The sheriff’s office denied that request.
Officials with the sheriff’s office tell FOX31, when the request was made, it was denied due to an active investigation. Then, when a second request was made to get those guns back, it was denied due to the statute of limitations in Colorado law.
Allen said that with the speedy trial deadline approaching and with the witnesses remaining unresponsive, the judge moved to dismiss the case since relying on hearsay to convict is not enough.
Allen also requested that the Colorado legislature make alterations to the law that limits a prosecutor’s ability to discuss sealed cases, which contributes to the public’s concerns over limited transparency.
Currently, if a judge seals a case ruling, a prosecutor who was in that room and was part of the case can go outside of the courtroom, be asked by a member of the public about that specific case, but is prohibited from confirming the case’s existence or discussing it any further.