On January 16, 2024, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that prosecutors reached a plea deal with Anderson Aldrich, the individual responsible for killing five and wounding dozens of others in the November 19, 2022, shooting of Colorado’s Club Q, an LGBTQ+ bar in Colorado Springs. The United States Attorney’s Office “alleges that Aldrich committed this attack because of actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity of any person.” Aldrich will plead guilty to fifty federal hate crime charges and twenty-four firearm violation charges in exchange for a 190-year sentence with additional life sentences while avoiding the death penalty. In June 2023, Aldrich was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole under Colorado state law after they pled guilty to murder charges and forty-six counts of attempted murder. Colorado abolished the death penalty in March 2020.

The DOJ’s announcement of the plea deal comes days after it announced it will seek a death sentence for Payton Gendron, responsible for the May 2022 racially motivated supermarket shooting in Buffalo, NY. Mr. Gendron is the first person for whom Attorney General Merrick Garland has authorized a death sentence. The DOJ provided no explanation for the different decision in Aldrich’s case. Aldrich, like Mr. Gendron, was young at the time of the crime and charged with state and federal hate crimes in connection with a mass shooting.

For some of Aldrich’s victims, the DOJ’s decision is disheartening. Ashtin Gamblin, who was shot and seriously injured in the shooting told prosecutors that Aldrich should face the death penalty. Michael Anderson, a bartender at Club Q who was working during the shooting, told the Associated Press that federal charges should act as a deterrent, by “sending a message to people who want to commit violent acts against this community, and [letting] them know this is not something that is swept away or overlooked… No matter how much justice is served statewide or federally, it can’t undo bullets fired.”

In a series of calls with the Associated Press, Aldrich reportedly admitted being “on a ‘very large plethora of drugs’ and abusing steroids at the time of the attack.” Aldrich also told reporters that it is “completely off base” to call the attack a hate crime. However, in February 2022, state prosecutors revealed in court that Aldrich ran a website that posted a “neo-Nazi white supremacist” shooting training video. A detective also testified that Aldrich’s gaming friends told him that they had “expressed hatred for police, LGBTQ+ people and minorities, and used racist and homophobic slurs.”


Tyler Cunnington and Emily Arseneau, Club Q Shooter faced fed­er­al hate crimes charges but no death penal­ty, sur­vivors say it’s not enough, KRDO, January 16, 2024; Colleen Slevin, Shooter who killed 5 peo­ple at Colorado LGBTQ+ club intends to plead guilty to fed­er­al hate crimes, Associated Press, January 162024.

See the U.S. Department of Justice’s press release regard­ing the Club Q shoot­ing, here.