Monday, November 21, 2022


As we know now, Anderson Lee Aldrich, who's been identified as the mass shooter at a Colorado Springs gay bar on Saturday, had a previous encounter with the law, in 2021:
... a woman — believed to be Aldrich’s mother — called the authorities to report that her son was threatening her with a homemade bomb and other weapons. Sheriff’s deputies were called to a single-story brick-and-siding house in the 9800 block of Rubicon Drive, the scene of the reported bomb threat. Public records show that Aldrich at the time lived on the block, at 9815 Rubicon Dr.

Deputies arriving at the scene ordered a partial evacuation of the neighborhood and then confronted Aldrich at another house, about a mile away.

There, Aldrich at first refused to surrender. But after a standoff, he was persuaded to walk out of the house, and was arrested without incident. No bomb was found, but Aldrich was charged with five felony counts, including kidnapping and felony menacing.

Why local prosecutors declined to pursue charges in the case was not clear.
Your right-wing relatives might believe that Aldrich wasn't prosecuted because of liberalism and wokeness. But Colorado Springs has a Republican mayor. The county sheriff is a Republican. The county DA is a Republican. The city just passed a budget that adds fifteen new police officers to the force. So liberalism didn't keep Aldrich free.

Maybe Aldrich's mother didn't want to press charges. Maybe he didn't seem like someone the authorities would consider a "real" criminal (or, for that matter, a person with real mental health issues).

That was a year ago -- but I keep thinking about another reported incident involving police and this family.

The New York Times tells us this about the original incident:
Leslie Bowman said in an interview that the frightening 2021 incident took place at her home, where she had been renting a spare room to Mr. Aldrich’s mother, Laura Voepel. Ms. Bowman said she was away from the house during the 2021 incident.

“His mom had called me and said, ‘Don’t come home right now, there are some people looking for Andy,’” Ms. Bowman recalled, using Mr. Aldrich’s nickname.

Two days after the incident, Ms. Bowman arranged to have Ms. Voepel move out of her home. “Once she was gone, I changed the code on the door, and I never saw or heard from her again,” Ms. Bowman said.
Then the Times tells us:
But about a month ago, she said, the police visited Ms. Bowman and said they were looking for Ms. Voepel to check on her welfare, though Ms. Bowman did not know why.
Why were the police doing a welfare check on Aldrich's mother a month ago? Was it because he was still threatening her?

The Washington Post says:
Also unclear was whether any petitions had been filed against Aldrich preventing him from possessing a firearm. Colorado’s 2019 “red flag” law gives local judges the authority to order the confiscation of firearms from individuals with a history of mental illness or violence.

As of Sept. 28, there have been 348 “red flag” cases in Colorado, the majority filed by police departments, since the law went into effect in 2020.
Politico notes that the county sheriff is not a fan of the red flag law:
El Paso County appears especially hostile to the law. It joined nearly 2,000 counties nationwide in declaring themselves “Second Amendment Sanctuaries” that protect the constitutional right to bear arms, passing a 2019 resolution that says the red flag law “infringes upon the inalienable rights of law-abiding citizens” by ordering police to “forcibly enter premises and seize a citizen’s property with no evidence of a crime.”

County Sheriff Bill Elder has said his office would wait for family members to ask a court for surrender orders and not petition for them on its own accord, unless there were “exigent circumstances” and “probable cause” of a crime.
Maybe law enforcement decided that the original threat to the mother was an isolated incident that didn't demonstrate serious problems with violence. (No explosives were found, although, as Politico notes, "The press release issued by the sheriff’s office at the time ... did not mention anything about whether any weapons were recovered.") But was there a second threat to the mother a month ago, after which law enforcement again did nothing to prevent Aldrich from obtaining weapons, or remove any he may have already had? And is that why we're here?

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