COLORADO SPRINGS—Anderson Lee Aldrich kept an assault-type rifle and a burner phone in a one-bedroom apartment near the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs where he lived with his mother until a couple of months ago, according to Xavier Kraus, a former neighbor in the same apartment hallway.
Kraus, 23, who said he once considered Aldrich a friend, also told The Daily Beast that the 22-year-old suspect in the mass shooting at the LGBTQ club Club Q that killed five people and injured 18 more on Saturday frequently used the word “f*ggot.”
Aldrich has since been charged with five counts of murder and five hate crimes in connection with the latest episode of mass gun violence in America to target the LGBTQ community.
“There would be times where he and his mom would get into fights, arguments, because he would be saying hateful things about whoever he was angry with,” Kraus told The Daily Beast. “He said things sometimes that probably should have been alarming to me. He used the term “f*ggot” a lot. Most of the time it came from a place of anger.”
Kraus said he called Aldrich “Andy,” but understood his neighbor’s full name to be Anderson Lee Aldrich because Kraus would sometimes pick up orders of medicine for him and his mother, whom he identified as Laura Voepel.
Attempts to reach Voepel for comment on this story were not immediately successful. Colorado Springs Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for the local prosecutor’s office deferred a request for comment to a pending press conference. It was not clear if Aldrich had an attorney.
Last year, as has been widely reported, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office responded to a bomb threat involving 21-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich and his mother, who told police her son was threatening her with “a homemade bomb, multiple weapons, and ammunition.” After evacuating the area, police took Aldrich into custody without further incident, though videos obtained by The Daily Beast suggest he was wearing tactical gear and itching for some kind of violent confrontation.
Local prosecutors have not yet explained what happened in the aftermath of that episode, which saw Aldrich booked on kidnapping charges, among others. Authorities have also not confirmed that the Aldrich arrested in connection with the club shooting is the same individual as the suspect in that episode.
Kraus told The Daily Beast that police knocked on his door at 3 a.m. this past Sunday, hours after the attack, and asked about the apartment in which Aldrich had lived. Kraus didn’t learn details of the shooting until later Sunday, and assumed police meant the new neighbor who moved in a month ago, he said.
It was only when he heard Aldrich’s name in connection with the shooting that he came to believe it was the same man he knew, he said.
“We had this conversation talking about how dangerous these guns are, these weapons are,” said Kraus. “He had this idea that we would go out at some point to a range and he [would] teach me some gun safety and go out and shoot some target practice. We never ended up getting around to do that. But that conversation just kind of sits with me, because I know how I felt when I saw the gun and he showed it to me. He was like, ‘This is all legal. I’m totally allowed to have this.’ It was an assault-rifle type gun.”
Aldrich liked to go to a range that allowed “rapid fire” shooting and would do so with his mother, Kraus said, showing The Daily Beast videos of a man and woman he identified as Aldrich and his mother firing at a target.
The date on which the videos were recorded was not clear.
“There was one time where he made a ‘shooting his gun’ reference to a woman he was upset with,” Kraus said. “And this was one of the instances where his mom was like, ‘Andy, oh my God, no, you can’t say that.’”
Another chilling episode that Kraus said stuck with him: at one point, Aldrich asked if he’d like to hold his gun, but Kraus said he felt like it was too dangerous.
According to Kraus, Aldrich told him, “It’s not the gun you’ve got to be afraid of, it’s the people.”