Aug 13, 2023
Scripps News obtains bodycam video of past incident with mass shooter
Scripps News fought to obtain video of the June 2021 incident that unfolded in a neighborhood outside of Colorado Springs in hopes of giving the public a clearer understanding of what happened that
Scripps News fought to obtain video of the June 2021 incident that unfolded in a neighborhood outside of Colorado Springs in hopes of giving the public a clearer understanding of what happened that day. Criminal charges filed after the troubling incident were not enough to stop the suspect from shooting and killing five people at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ club, Club Q, in November 2022. Anderson Aldrich pleaded guilty to the mass shooting and was sentenced to life in prison. Whats on the videoDeputies responded to the 2021 scene after the suspects grandmother, Pam Pullen, called 911 to report that her grandchild, Aldrich, who was 21 at the time, had been putting stuff together to make a huge bomb with plans to go out in a blaze and kill the family. Pullen said she escaped from the house by lying to Aldrich. When law enforcement officers arrived, footage from El Paso County sheriffs deputy Bethany Gibsons body camera shows the deputy sitting in a sheriffs vehicle, near the scene, contacting the grandmother again on her phone to gather more information. He pretty much went nuts, Pullen could be heard saying through the deputys speakerphone. He ran down and got his guns, came up and loaded em and had em aimed at us and told us, The fight starts now, and this ends today. And you guys are going with me. Were all going to die together.' And he literally proceeded to then run back down the stairs and bring up a box that was very, very heavy and open it and show us the contents, and all we could see was a bunch of chemicals arranged in it. And I have no clue what it is, but he said, This is enough to ... to take out a federal building (and) an entire police department, and he went on and on, and he said, I am loaded and ready, she told the deputy. Did he prevent you guys from leaving? Gibson asked. At first, yes, absolutely, said Pullen. The suspects motherAs SWAT officers assembled their tactical gear and blocked off parts of the residential neighborhood, the suspects mother, Laura Voepel, could be seen approaching a deputy after running out of the home where Aldrich was allegedly making threats. Im fine ... Hes not going to hurt me, she said as deputies attempted to escort her to the back of a sheriffs vehicle. What do you guys think hes going to do? ... Why dont you just talk to him? she begged. Voepel protested getting into the sheriffs vehicle until officers threatened to handcuff and arrest her for obstructing them. I cant leave him. I cant! she said repeatedly. She said she was worried Aldrich would die. Deputy Seth Fritsche eventually drove Voepel to an alternate location to reunite with family members. When he parked, Voepel got out of the vehicle and warned the deputy that several people could be killed if deputies were to breach the home where Aldrich was located. You need to evacuate this block is what you need to do. Do you understand what Im saying? she pleaded. You need to evacuate the neighbors. Hes got a lot of stuff in there, do you understand? Scripps News could not reach Voepel or Pullen for comment. The criminal chargesAlthough the district attorney's office charged Aldrich with felony menacing and kidnapping, a judge ultimately dismissed the case when the victims could not be subpoenaed to testify and the defendants right to a speedy trial was placed in jeopardy. According to Ian Farrell, a University of Denver associate law professor, the district attorney would not have been able to rely on the familys statements that were recorded on body camera and in 911 calls because a defendant has a right to confront his accusers. The prosecution always has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that all of the elements of the offense were committed, and so you need evidence for that. And often, that evidence will be the testimony of, say, a victim, said Farrell. If the victim is for some reason reluctant to testify, for example, because its a loved one, it can be therefore very challenging for the prosecution to demonstrate that all of the elements of the offense have been committed ... the less cooperative they are, the harder it will be to then convince the jury that the offense has been committed, Farrell said. Scripps News asked Farrell whether the district attorney could have filed other charges that did not rely on a victims testimony. Although it may have seemed that the suspect could have been charged with possession of explosives, Farrell said the materials sheriffs deputies said Aldrich possessed ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder were likely not enough to be considered illegal explosive or incendiary parts under the law. If the only things the police found were ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder, (Aldrich) could not have been charged with possession of explosives, Farrell said. Without seeing the video, Farrell
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