Law enforcement officials testified at a hearing for the accused Club Q shooter in a courtroom packed with survivors and family members of the victims.
COLORADO SPRINGS — Law enforcement officers who were among the first to respond to a mass shooting last year at an L.G.B.T.Q. nightclub in Colorado Springs detailed a chaotic and bloody scene during a preliminary court hearing on Wednesday for the trial of the person accused of fatally shooting five people and injuring at least 17 others.
On the first day of the hearing, prosecutors laid out evidence to support their case against the suspect, Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, who faces over 300 charges including multiple counts of first-degree murder and hate crimes.
Mx. Aldrich, who identifies as nonbinary and uses the pronouns they/them, faces life in prison without parole if convicted of the first-degree murder charges.
Connor Wallick, a police officer for the Colorado Springs Police Department was one of the first to enter the nightclub, Club Q, after reports of the shooting.
“I could hear people screaming and crying,” Officer Wallick said. “I could smell a lot of gunpowder. I could hear music, but it seemed like the music had been turned down before I got there.”
Officer Wallick said that when he entered the nightclub, he found two women inside who had been shot. Officer Wallick said that he asked the women where the shooter was, and one said she did not know.
Making his way through the nightclub, Officer Wallick said he soon found the suspect on the ground, with a man on top of them with a gun. The suspect, Officer Wallick said, had a ballistic vest with a grenade. A large rifle with several magazines was found on the ground.
Officer Wallick said that the suspect was bleeding from their head and that there was a lot of blood on the walls.
He said that when he asked the suspect if they were the shooter, Mx. Aldrich denied it and said that the man who subdued them was the shooter.
The mass shooting occurred close to midnight on Nov. 19, when the police say Mx. Aldrich entered Club Q armed with an AR-15 and a handgun, according to the affidavit for an arrest warrant, and began firing the assault rifle indiscriminately.
Daniel Aston, Raymond Green Vance, Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh and Derrick Rump were killed. Two unarmed club patrons tackled and subdued the shooter until the police arrived.
On Wednesday, the suspect, wearing an orange jumpsuit, sat quietly during the appearance at the Fourth Judicial District courthouse in El Paso County. Family members of the victims were also at the courthouse, including the parents of Mr. Aston, a 28-year-old transgender man who moved to Colorado Springs two years ago and landed his first job as a bartender at Club Q.
Also testifying on Wednesday was Detective Jason Gasper, an investigator for the Colorado Springs Police Department, who responded to the scene. Detective Gasper was asked to describe photos presented on a projector in the courthouse by Reginald Short, chief deputy district attorney for the Fourth Judicial District.
“It was apparent that a lot of bleeding had taken place there,” Mr. Gapser said as he described photos from inside the nightclub.
This week’s hearing is expected to continue through Friday. Prosecutors will present the minimum amount of evidence needed to prove probable cause and to persuade the judge that there is enough evidence to move forward with the trial.