Known Wolf Redux: Colorado Springs Shooter Was on FBI Radar, Prosecutor Dropped Case Despite Threats, 100 lbs. of Explosives


Colorado Springs Shooting
In this image taken from El Paso County District Court video, Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, center, sits during a court appearance in Colorado Springs, Colo., Tuesday, Dec. Nov. 6, 2022. Aldrich, the suspect accused of entering a Colorado gay nightclub and opening fire killing five people and wounding 17 others, was charged by prosecutors Tuesday with 305 criminal counts. (El Paso County District Court via AP)

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Aaaaand here we go again. Another mass shooter — this time Anderson Lee Aldrich, the one who shot up a Colorado Springs gay nightclub, murdering five people — had been known to the FBI for over a year before his attack. And the case of the previously reported barricading incident and bomb threat that got him arrested was dropped by the local prosecutor.

It was obviously all just a silly misunderstanding. All the killer did was threaten his family with a bomb and hole up in his home, resulting in the evacuation of a good portion of the surrounding neighborhood.

From USA Today . . .

Aldrich’s grandparents called 911 that day, saying their grandchild was building a bomb in their basement and had threatened them. According to the sealed records, the AP reported, Aldrich told their grandparents they were planning to “conduct a mass shooting and bombing.”

Oh, is that all? Hold on . . .

The FBI was aware of the accused Colorado Springs LGBTQ bar shooter the day before the suspect was arrested for making bomb threats against family members in June 2021, authorities have confirmed.

The 22-year-old who was charged with 305 counts in connection with the Nov. 19 mass killing, Anderson Lee Aldrich, was previously arrested on June 18, 2021, after threatening to kill family members at their home. 

But the FBI was aware of Aldrich at least the day prior, and closed out its case just weeks later, the agency told USA TODAY. The Associated Press first reported on the FBI disclosure.

“The FBI received information on June 17, 2021 concerning Anderson Aldrich. As part of the assessment, the FBI coordinated with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, which arrested Aldrich on June 18, 2021. With state charges pending, the FBI closed its assessment on July 15, 2021,” the FBI said in a statement.

Aldrich joins an ever-growing club of “known wolf” mass shooters like Nikolas Cruz, Omar Mateen, and Nidal Hassan.

Anderson Lee Aldrich. A year and a half before the Colorado Springs gay nightclub shooting that left five dead, Aldrich, the alleged shooter, was accused of threatening to kill his grandparents if they stood in the way of his plans to become “the next mass killer.” (Colorado Springs Police Department via AP, File)

In this case, the killer’s family didn’t want to cooperate in the prosecution — reportedly out of fear at what Aldrich might do to them. But they probably didn’t really have to. Given the law enforcement response that was required along with the quantity of explosives and other materiel that was found, that should have been enough to get our friends at the ATF involved.

As the AP reports . . .

The Colorado Springs gay nightclub shooter had charges dropped in a 2021 bomb threat case after family members who were terrorized in the incident refused to cooperate, according to the district attorney and unsealed court documents.

The charges were dropped despite authorities a finding a tub with more than 100 pounds (45 kilograms) of explosive materials and later receiving warnings from other relatives that suspect Anderson Lee Aldrich was sure to hurt or murder a set of grandparents if freed, according to the documents, which were unsealed Thursday.

A former county district attorney is doing his best to blame the lack of prosecution on the reluctance of the family to cooperate.

The former district attorney who was replaced by [current El Paso County District Attorney Michael] Allen told The Associated Press he faced many cases in which people dodged subpoenas, but the inability to serve Aldrich’s family seemed extraordinary.

“I don’t know that they were hiding, but if that was the case, shame on them,” Dan May said of the suspect’s family. “This is an extreme example of apparent manipulation that has resulted in something horrible.”

Yes, well, it isn’t as if they didn’t have any evidence to work with.

Aldrich, 22, was arrested in June 2021 on allegations of making a threat that led to the evacuation of about 10 homes. The documents describe how Aldrich told the frightened grandparents about firearms and bomb-making material in the grandparents’ basement and vowed not to let them interfere with plans for Aldrich to be “the next mass killer” and “go out in a blaze.”

Aldrich — who uses they/them pronouns and is nonbinary, according to their attorneys — holed up in their mother’s home in a standoff with SWAT teams and warned about having armor-piercing rounds and a determination to “go to the end.” Investigators later searched the mother’s and grandparents’ houses and found and seized handguns, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, body armor, magazines, a gas mask and a 12-gallon tub with explosive chemicals.

How many “red flags” does one wack-o have to wave before getting psychiatric help? How many FBI agents does it take to screw in a light bulb? How many felonies does someone in El Paso County have to commit before being charged with a crime and jailed or committed?

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