Colorado Springs club shooting suspect tried to blame carnage on a patron, officer testifies

A memorial for victims of the November 19 shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is seen once week after the violence.

(CNN)A suspect accused of killing five people in a shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, tried to blame the carnage on a patron who was subduing him, a police officer testified at a preliminary hearing on Wednesday.

Anderson Lee Aldrich is charged with more than 300 counts in connection with the November 19 shooting at Club Q, including charges of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, assault and bias-motivated crimes causing bodily injury.
Aldrich -- whose attorneys say identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns -- faces up to life in prison without parole if convicted on the first-degree murder charges.
      Colorado Springs police Officer Connor Wallick, who was among the first officers inside the nightclub that night, told an El Paso County court on the first day of a three-day hearing that people were "screaming and crying" and the dark nighclub, with flashing purple-blue lights, smelled of gunpowder when he arrived about two minutes after a 911 call. Music played in the background.
        Wallick found Aldrich, 22, near the bloodied dance floor as Aldrich was being subdued, the officer testified Wednesday.
          Aldrich, wearing a ballistic vest, claimed to the officer that one of the two patrons who disarmed and held Aldrich down had carried out the shooting, according to Wallick.
          "(Aldrich) kept making statements that the person who's on top of them was the shooter in the incident," Wallick said.
          Police said two men helped to disarm Aldrich the night of the shooting. Former Army Maj. Richard Fierro has said he tackled Aldrich and held him down, and police said Thomas James, a US Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class, pushed a rifle out of the Aldrich's reach while Aldrich was being subdued.
          Aldrich had an assault rifle, Wallick testified.
            Another officer, Detective Jason Gasper, also testified, describing his response to the scene and going over photos from the investigation. The photos included bullet impacts from around the club, pools of blood, numerous AR-style cartridges, and the bodies of the five victims, CNN affiliate KOAA reported.
            Authorities allege Aldrich entered Club Q late November 19 with an AR-style weapon and a handgun and opened fire, killing Daniel Aston, Raymond Green Vance, Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh and Derrick Rump. At least 19 others were injured, police said, most of whom suffered gunshot wounds.