In 2019, Colorado passed a law that “automatically prevents the retrieval of criminal records when a case is entirely dismissed” /2/. This law “is likely what sealed the records from a 2021 bomb threat incident in which a man with the same name and age as the Club Q shooting suspect was arrested.” The Denver Gazette notes that
In June 2021, Anderson Lee Aldrich was arrested over a bomb threat that forced residents in a Lorson Ranch neighborhood in southeast Colorado Springs to evacuate from their homes for about three hours.
A press release El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said that a woman reported that her son, Aldrich, ‘threatened to cause harm to her with a homemade bomb, multiple weapons, and ammunition.’
No formal charges were pursued in that case, which has since been sealed. /3/
Investigators and the media were able to piece together Aldrich’s past, including a name change, through public records sources, among other touch points. /4/.
/1/ Marc Fisher, Michelle Boorstein, and Molly Hennessy-Fiske,How the Colorado mass shooting unfolded — and ended — inside Club Q, Wash. Post, Nov. 21, 2022 (“Fisher”).
/2/ Luige Del Puerto, Did Colorado law automatically seal 2021 suspect’s criminal record?, Denver Gazette, Nov. 21, 2022 (“Del Puerto”), citing CO Rev Stat § 24-72-705, (H.B. 19-1275), ch. 295, p. 2739. The legislation was a bipartisan bill by Reps. Michael Weissman, (D-Aurora) and Matt Soper, (R-Delta), and Sen. Pete Lee, (D-Colorado Springs).
/3/ Id., Del Puerto.
/4/ Joby Warrick and Robert Klemko, Police probe LGBTQ club shooting suspect’s ties to a 2021 bomb threat, Wash. Post, Nov. 20, 2022; and Joby Warrick, Robert Klemko, Razzan Nakhlawi, Alice Cities, and Cate Brow, LGBTQ club shooting suspect’s troubled past was obscured by a name change, records show, Wash. Post, Nov. 21, 2022.
Eric J. Ellman is Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs at the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) in Washington, DC. He also served for eight months as Interim President and CEO of the Association. More