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Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke Delivers Remarks Announcing Former Colorado Resident Sentenced to Life in Prison for Federal Hate Crimes and Firearm Offenses Related to Mass Shooting at Club Q


Denver, CO
United States

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Good afternoon. My name is Kristen Clarke, and I am the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department. I’m joined today by Acting U.S. Attorney Matt Kirsch, FBI Special Agent in Charge Mark Michalek and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent in Charge Brent Beavers.

Today, Anderson Lee Aldrich was sentenced to 55 life sentences running concurrently plus 190 years, without the possibility of parole, for the brazen and calculated attack against innocent people at Club Q on Nov. 19, 2022. This was one of the most violent, hate-fueled mass shootings targeting the LGBTQIA+ community in our nation’s history. The defendant’s actions killed five people, seriously injured dozens of others and caused untold anguish to many others. This tragedy runs contrary to our most basic American values, respect for the sanctity of life and the intrinsic worth of every human being.

The attack took place on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, when members of the LGBTQIA+ community and their allies gathered at the safe haven of Club Q to celebrate some of the most vulnerable people in our society. It is a sad irony that the attack demonstrates why the event was necessary.

Today, we want to convey our support for the victims of that horrific act, for their loved ones and for the members of the LGBTQIA+ community. The lives needlessly cut short that day, the pain inflicted and the trauma imposed are beyond tragic. This sentence while severe cannot undo the harm inflicted on that day.

The victims and survivors — Club Q patrons, employees and artists – were attacked when and where they least expected it. That was the defendant’s plan. The defendant visited Club Q at least eight times prior to the shooting. The defendant knew the layout of the club and was at Club Q an hour and a half before the shooting and was aware that many patrons and employees were there for Transgender Day of Remembrance. Prior to committing this heinous crime, the defendant created a website to post videos espousing racist ideology and discussing racially motivated mass shootings. The defendant used online platforms to spew anti-gay and anti-transgender views. The defendant made over $9,000 in weapons-related purchases from at least 56 different vendors. And then, armed with an AR-15 style assault weapon, the defendant murdered and harmed innocent people in their safe space. When the bullets stopped, Club Q looked like a war zone. Survivors of the shooting are still living with the pain and physical impacts from the shooting, requiring them to spend hours with doctors and burdening them with medical expenses. Many of those impacted continue to endure trauma as a result of the defendant’s actions.

We know that this sentence can’t bring back loved ones, heal injuries or dissipate the lingering trauma. But today’s sentencing should send a loud message: we will not tolerate hate in our country and that purveyors of bias-motivated violence will be held accountable for their actions. Those who seek to consummate their hate-filled ideas through violence better think twice. We vigorously prosecute hate crimes cases to vindicate the principle that every American, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, has the right to live freely without fearing violence based upon bias and hatred.

That principle is carved in stone, literally, in an inscription on the Justice Department building, where I go to work every day. It says, “Liberty is maintained in security of justice.” That principle is why the prosecution of hate-motivated violence stands as one of our top priorities.

The conclusion of the criminal case arising from that attack comes during Pride month, a celebration of LGBTQIA+ people, who seek to live openly and authentically in our country. Pride month is also a reminder about the work we must do to ensure the promise of dignity and freedom for all. The reminder could not be more stark today, a week after the anniversary of the 2016 attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. It should galvanize us to action and heighten our vigilance against the forces of hate.

I want the entire LGBTQIA+ community to know that the Justice Department stands with you. We remain steadfast in our commitment to using the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act to stop these hateful acts, to protect you, and to hold accountable those who dare to threaten, injure or harm you. In America, no one should be subjected to hate or violence because of who they are, what they look like or who they love.

In closing, I want to thank our team of federal, state and local law enforcement partners and federal prosecutors who worked together on this important case. Thank you.

Civil Rights
Updated June 18, 2024