A judge in a kidnapping case against the person accused of killing five people last month at the LGBTQ+ nightclub Club Q previously warned the suspected gunman could become violent.
In court transcripts obtained by the Associated Press, the judge who dismissed a 2021 kidnapping case against 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich raised concerns that Aldrich could be violent in the future.
Aldrich reportedly had a stockpile of weapons at this grandparents' house and had a standoff with police.
The news wire reports that Judge Robin Chittum had been told by Aldrich's grandparents, who had claimed to have been kidnapped, that Aldrich had mental health struggles. The judge said Aldrich should receive treatment or "it's going to be so bad."
Regardless, Chittum approved a defense attorney's motion to dismiss the case in a four-minute hearing in July. By that time, the AP reports, Aldrich's grandparents had stopped cooperating with authorities. Prosecutors did not attempt to keep the case open.
"You clearly have been planning for something else," Chittum told Aldrich during the hearing in August 2021. Aldrich had testified about liking to shoot guns as well as about his mental health.
"It didn't have to do with your grandma and grandpa. It was saving all these firearms and trying to make this bomb, and making statements about other people being involved in some sort of shootout and a huge thing. And then that's kind of what it turned into," the judge told the suspect, according to the AP.
Aldrich told Chittum that shooting at a shooting range was "highly therapeutic for me."
The AP notes that most people who are violent do not have mental illnesses.
The news that a judge understood the potential danger posed by Aldrich months before he allegedly entered Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colo., and opened fire, killing five and injuring more than 18, has posed questions about what authorities could have done to prevent the violence.
Alrich faces more than 305 charges related to the mass shooting.
Investigators have still not announced a potential motive for the attack.
"Judges are usually more aggressive in cases like this, when the handwriting is on the wall," Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz told the AP. While some prosecutors will overreach, "here, you have the legal system failing."
Ian Farrell, associate professor at the University of Denver Strum College of Law, said that Chittum doesn't have the ability to force charges.
"Since a deadline for proceeding with (Aldrich's) trial was coming up and the prosecution clearly was not ready to proceed ... the trial judge had no choice but to dismiss the case," Farrell explained.
Local prosecutors have declined to discuss specifics of the 2021 case, saying it's part of the current investigation after the Club Q shooting.