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Colo. governor signs four gun control bills

Club Q mass shooting in November left five people dead

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Democratic Colorado Gov. Jaren Polis signs gun control measures on April 28, 2023. (Screenshot courtesy of CBS Colorado)

Democratic Colorado Gov. Jaren Polis signed four gun control measures Friday aimed at quelling rising suicides and youth violence, preventing mass shootings and opening avenues for victims of gun violence victims to be able to sue the firearm industry.

For many in the state who have advocated for reform, the history of mass shootings in particular has been a focal point although lawmakers were unable to pass a measure that would have banned sales of assault-style weapons in Colorado.

Earlier this month House Bill 1230, that would have banned the sale or transfer of so-called assault weapons, was rejected in a dramatic, 6-7 vote in the House Judiciary Committee at about 1 a.m. following a 14-hour hearing that featured testimony from hundreds of people, the Colorado Springs Sun newspaper reported.

House Bill 1230 was introduced in the aftermath of the mass shooting at Club Q, an LGBTQ night club in Colorado Springs that killed five people and injured another 25.

A handful of states including California, Illinois, New York and Maryland have bans on assault weapons.

CBS Colorado noted Friday before the ink was even dry on Polis’ signature, gun rights groups sued to reverse two of the measures: Raising the buying age for any gun from 18 to 21, and establishing a 3-day waiting period between the purchase and receipt of a gun. The courts are already weighing lawsuits over such restrictions in other states.

Screenshot/CBS Colorado

The Colorado Springs Gazette on Mar 15 published a list of the state’s mass shootings:

Chuck E. Cheese, 1993, four dead 

On Dec. 14, 19-year-old gunman and former employee Nathan Dunlap opened fire on the staff of an Aurora Chuck E. Cheese, killing four and injuring one employee. 

Columbine High School, 1999, 15 dead 

Two armed teens went on a shooting rampage April 20, killing 12 students and one teacher, and wounding more than 20 others. After the attack, gunmen Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, killed themselves. At the time, this was the largest school shooting in U.S history. 

Platte Canyon High School, 2006, two dead 

On Sept. 27, armed 53-year-old Duane Roger Morrison entered Platte Canyon High School, taking six young girls hostage and sexually assaulted them. Following a three-hour standoff with police, Morrison killed one of the girls before turning the gun on himself. 

Youth with a Mission Center and New Life Church, 2007, five dead

In the morning of Dec. 9, 24-year-old Matthew John Murray opened fire on the Youth With a Mission Center in Arvada. He killed two, and injured two before escaping. Later that day, he made a similar attack on New Life Church in Colorado Springs, killing two and wounding three before shooting himself. 

Aurora Movie Theater, 2012, 12 dead 

One armed gunman, later identified as 25-year-old James Holmes, opened fire at a midnight showing of “Batman: The Dark Knight Rises,” killing 12 and leaving 70 wounded. 

Arapahoe High School, 2013, two dead

Student and gunman Karl Pierson, 18, made an armed attack on Dec. 13 that killed one 17-year-old girl. Pierson died by suicide on the scene.

Halloween 2015, three killed, shooter killed by police 

Noah Harpham armed himself Halloween morning with an AR-15 rifle and two handguns, and went on a bloody rampage near downtown Colorado Springs that ended when Colorado Springs police officers fired on him.

Planned Parenthood, 2015, three dead 

An armed anti-abortion radical entered a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs on Nov. 27, killing three including one police officer. Following a standoff that lasted nearly five hours and left nine others injured, the shooter was identified as Robert Lewis Dear, Jr., 57. 

Walmart, 2017, three dead 

On Nov. 1, 47-year-old Scott Ostrem opened fire in a Thornton Walmart, killing three shoppers. Ostrem escaped the scene and was later found and arrested in Westminster.

STEM school, 2019, one dead 

An 18-year-old student, Devon Erickson, opened fire in the Highlands Ranch school, killing one teen and leaving eight others injured. The 18-year-old victim and two other students charged Erickson, an effort that disarmed the shooter but resulted in the student being fatally shot to the chest. 

King Soopers, 2021, 10 dead 

On March 22, a gunman attacked a Boulder King Soopers grocery store. Among the 10 killed was a Boulder police officer. The suspect, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, has so far been ruled incompetent to stand trial.

Birthday party massacre, 2021, seven dead

The last mass shooting in Colorado Springs, prior to the Club Q mass shooting, happened in May 2021, when a gunman killed six members of an extended family at a birthday party at a mobile home in Colorado Springs, before turning the gun on himself. It was the fourth deadliest mass shooting in state history, tied for the deadliest mass murder in the city’s history.

Polis signs for gun safety laws:

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Colorado

Victory Fund endorses Herod for Denver mayor

‘It’s about getting the right LGBTQ person elected’

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Leslie Herod is among 20 candidates running for Denver mayor. (Photo courtesy Herod campaign)

The LGBTQ Victory Fund, the only national organization dedicated to electing LGBTQ leaders to public office, has picked its top choice for Denver’s next mayor — Leslie Herod, who currently serves as District 8 representative in the Colorado House of Representatives.

Herod hopes to continue her service to the city as its mayor and someone who believes Denver is ready to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.

“It’s not just about getting an LGBTQ person, it’s about getting the right LGBTQ person elected. And the fact that they chose to endorse me and support me really means a lot to me,” Herod said.

Herod, who is the first African American to be elected to the Colorado General Assembly, announced the endorsement in a press release.

“I know Leslie’s commitment to smart public policy and leadership to address issues of real concern for all Denverites makes her the best candidate,” said Annise Parker, president and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund.

Herod began serving Denver in 2016, when she was first elected to represent the city in the General Assembly. 

According to statewide opinion surveys, Denver is at crossroads, coping with two major issues: crime and affordable housing versus homelessness. 

“Denver’s a city where we still have a lot of vacant lots and many of those vacant lots are owned by the city and county of Denver or Denver Public Schools. We can use that space to ensure that those across the housing spectrum have access to housing,” Herod said.

Herod said these are the primary goals she will focus on through a collaborative and equitable lens that ensures every Denverite has a voice in the conversation about the future of the city and can thrive in the place they call home.

Denver has 20 candidates running for mayor. And although that may sound intimidating, Herod is confident she is the right candidate for the job.

“I know Denver is ready to take advantage of all the opportunities that lie before us. And for me, it’s really about making sure that we are improving the lives of every single Denverite so our city and our communities can thrive,” Herod said. 

Herod has passed more than 150 pieces of legislation, and when she noticed a need for mental health services, she successfully launched Support Team Assiatnce Response (STAR). STAR provides an EMT and mental health professional in response to mental health related emergency calls instead of law enforcement and a firefighter paramedic.

Besides advocating for Denver residents’ mental and physical health, including the LGBTQ community, Herod has improved access to HIV/AIDS medications and fought for the safety of trans kids in schools. 

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Colorado

Biden calls Club Q owners as community grapples with aftermath

Focus on the Family headquarters vandalized

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Entrance to the Focus on the Family complex in Colorado Springs after the mass-murder at LGBTQ+ Club Q (Photo by Nic Grzecka/Instagram)

As the LGBTQ community continues to mourn the loss of the five people killed in last weekend’s mass shooting, focus is now shifting to a reflection of anti-LGBTQ sentiment that has evolved from prejudice to incitement according to Nic Grzecka, a co-owner of Club Q.

In an interview with the Associated Press, one of his first since the chaos of the aftermath created by the mass-shooting, Grzecka said he believes the targeting of a drag queen event is connected to the art form being cast in a false light in recent months by right-wing activists and politicians who complain about the “sexualization” or “grooming” of children.

Even though general acceptance of the LGBTQ community has grown, this new dynamic has fostered a dangerous climate, he said.

“It’s different to walk down the street holding my boyfriend’s hand and getting spit at (as opposed to) a politician relating a drag queen to a groomer of their children,” Grzecka said. “I would rather be spit on in the street than the hate get as bad as where we are today.”

On Thursday, President Joe Biden spending the Thanksgiving holiday with the first lady and family members in Nantucket, Massachusetts, called Grzecka and Club Q co-owner Matthew Haynes.

The president and the first lady offered condolences and reiterated their support for the community as well as their commitment to fighting back against hate and gun violence. They also thanked the two men for the ‘incredible contributions they have made and will continue to make to Colorado Springs.’

The president told reporters enroute to Nantucket, reflecting on the mass-shooting at the LGBTQ+ club and then another mass-shooting Tuesday, at a Walmart store when a night manager opened fire in a breakroom in Chesapeake, Va., killing six, and wounding at least half a dozen more, said he has plans to support a bill banning assault rifles during the lame-duck session before the next Congress is seated in January.

“I’m going to do it whenever — I got to make that assessment as I get in and start counting the votes,” Biden said

As the memorial outside Club Q grows, more attention is now being focused on the needs of the survivors and others in the LGBTQ community in Colorado Springs affected by the mass-shooting.

An annual ‘Friendsgiving’ feast for the members of the LGBTQ community unable to spend time with relatives because of their being LGBTQ and which was normally held by the owners and staff of Club Q was shifted to a community dinner at the Colorado Springs MCC Church.

In an Instagram post, earlier in the week, Grzecka thanked Colorado Governor Jared Polis, state Attorney General Phil Weiser, Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez and city councilmember Nancy Henjum in whose district the LGBTQ club is located, “for your hard work to ensure there was a Crisis Center to service the Club Q and Colorado Springs community during the holiday.”

Fallout over the shooting continues as anger mounts at what many in the LGBTQ community see as targeted hate amplified by a resurgence of anti-LGBTQ hate speech online and by right-wing media outlets and far-right figures such as Fox host Tucker Carlson.

Colorado Springs is also home to Focus on the Family, one of the largest anti-LGBTQ groups in the U.S. The Christian ministry group has opposed same-sex marriage, LGBTQ+ service in any branch of the U.S. armed forces and continues to advocate for the discredited practise of conversion therapy.

Late Thursday person or persons unknown vandalized the sign at the main entrance to the group’s headquarters complex. “We went out there to investigate if there was a crime that took place,” Colorado Springs Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Jason Ledbetter told the Gazette regarding the overnight incident. “There is no suspect information at this time.”

In a Instagram post, Grzecka displayed a picture of the vandalized sign with graffiti spray painted in black reading; “Their blood is on your hands five lives taken.”

In his message accompanying the picture, Grzecka noted:

Focus on the Family moved to our city in the 90’s, was a large group behind pushing through Amendment 2 along with Colorado for family matters. People such as Dr. James Dobson and Will Perkins have spread a nasty, false and hurtful narrative about our LGBT community.

Amendment 2 was passed in 1992, and Colorado Springs (El Paso county) were the votes to pass the amendment, the same amendment that gave our city the nickname “hate city USA”

Words have consequences and your continuous false narrative about the LGBT community has consequences,
@focusonthefamily this message added to your sign has more truth to it than you may actually be able to understand.

This is not vandalism this is not an attack on Christian’s. This message is just that a message that was delivered in a way to ensure you receive it.

@cityofcos, Mayor Suthers when can we meet to discuss how this type of anti-gay speech, is coming from our own backyard.

The Gazette also reported that people from around the nation are holding in-person and online fundraisers for victims and families of the Club Q mass shooting. 

While the state has an official online donation site, the Colorado Healing Fund, a private online drive, also has become one of the largest appeals.

Good Judy Garage in Denver, an LGBTQ business, raised $25,000 in two hours after starting a GoFundMe drive on Sunday. The initial goal was upped to $50,000 and now is at $750,000, as donations continue to pour in. As of Friday, the amount collected was $761,707 raised.

Link to the GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-for-the-club-q-families-and-survivors.

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Defense attorneys say Club Q suspect is nonbinary

Alleged shooter to make virtual court appearance Wednesday

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(Photo courtesy of Facebook)

The suspect in the killing of five people and the wounding of over a dozen others in the Saturday night mass shooting at Club Q is nonbinary say attorneys in documents filed Tuesday in the 4th Judicial District and El Paso County, Colorado Combined Courts.

The Colorado Springs Gazette reported that lawyers for suspect Anderson Lee Aldrich filed a series of motions after they were released from the hospital and transferred to the El Paso County jail in downtown Colorado Springs.

Joseph Archambault, who is the chief trial deputy for the Office of the Colorado State Public Defender, and Michael Bowman, another state public defender, included a footnote in the documents which read: “Anderson Aldrich is nonbinary. They use they/them pronouns, and for the purposes of all formal [court] filings, will be addressed as Mx. Aldrich.”

The suspect has 10 charges stemming from the shooting. Five felony counts of first degree murder and five felony counts of bias-motivated crimes causing bodily injury.

In a press briefing earlier, Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said the suspect had not made any statements to investigators, despite attempts to interview Aldrich.

The Gazette reported that Aldrich is scheduled to make a virtual appearance for an advisement hearing at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday in 4th Judicial District Court. There is no date set for the suspect’s first in-person court appearance. 

According to the Gazette the six motions filed by the defense include a motion to unseal the arrest affidavit for the defense, a motion to limit pretrial public comment, a motion to provide ongoing disclosures to the defense, a motion for the court to prohibit ex parte search warrants by law enforcement, a motion for preservation of discoverable materials, and a motion demanding a preliminary hearing. 

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