COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KDVR) — The Club Q massacre in Colorado Springs is the 33rd mass shooting in Colorado since the state outlawed the death penalty in July 2020.
Even if the El Paso District Attorney’s Office wanted to pursue the death penalty against 22-year-old Anderson Aldrich, it can’t. That doesn’t sit well with Colorado Springs resident Leslie Bowman.
“I do support, personally, the death penalty, especially in cases of murder. I think that when you take a life, you forfeit your own,” Bowman said.
Bowman once rented a room to Aldrich’s mother, Laura Voepel, and it was Bowman’s house where Aldrich engaged in a standoff with El Paso County Sheriff’s deputies in June 2021, after their mother reported they had made a bomb threat directed at her.
An attorney for Aldrich said in a court filing Tuesday that Aldrich is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns.
A livestream video taken by Aldrich showed them dressed in body armor with a handgun seen on a bed in the background as they spoke about blowing the home to “holy hell” if SWAT members entered the home.
Aldrich’s arrest record related to that incident was sealed after charges were dismissed.
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Bowman isn’t the only person disappointed that Aldrich is now accused of killing five people and shooting 17 others, yet won’t face the death penalty.
“I think this is exactly what the death penalty exists for are mass killings,” said George Brauchler, former 18th Judicial District attorney.
Brauchler sought the death penalty for James Holmes in the 2012 Aurora theater mass shooting, but he received life in prison after the jury failed to vote unanimously for death.
Now, the option doesn’t even exist after Gov. Jared Polis and the Colorado legislature eliminated the death penalty in July 2020.
“Look, every poll I’ve ever seen about the death penalty in the state of Colorado or across America shows that folks are overwhelmingly in support of a death penalty in certain circumstances,” Brauchler said.
How many mass shootings happened in Colorado?
The Problem Solvers reviewed statistics kept by the Gun Violence Archive, which tracks mass shootings defined by four or more people getting shot in a single incident, not including the perpetrator.
So far this year, Colorado has experienced 13 mass shootings where 30 people were killed and 57 injured.
In 2021, Colorado again had 13 mass shootings, where 32 people were killed and 41 injured. That includes the King Soopers grocery store shooting in Boulder that left 10 people dead and one injured.
In the last six months of 2020, after Colorado eliminated the death penalty, there were seven mass shootings, resulting in six deaths and 33 injuries.
Does the death penalty deter mass shootings?
“Everyone who is outraged by these mass shootings is looking for some magic bullet. The solution, how can we stop these shootings from occurring?” said Chris Decker, a Denver defense attorney and FOX31 legal analyst.
Decker said that while the death penalty may seem like a popular option to reconsider, most studies have found have a death penalty statute does not stop mass killings.
“The fact that a death penalty could be in play does not go through the minds of mass murderers at the time they’re executing their victims,” Decker said.
The only way Anderson faces the death penalty for the Club Q shooting would be if the U.S. Attorney’s Office were to claim jurisdiction and prosecute the case, because federal law allows for the death penalty.
Both Decker and Brauchler told FOX31 they think it’s unlikely federal prosecutors will attempt to take this case from the El Paso County district attorney.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment when the Problem Solvers asked if was considering taking over the prosecution of the Aldrich case.
The 22-year-old is expected to make a first court appearance Wednesday morning.