The 22-year-old suspect accused of killing five and wounding dozens of others at a gay nightclub in Colorado last month allegedly threatened to become the “next mass killer” a year before horrific murder spree, according to documents unsealed Thursday by a judge.
Judge Robin Chittum unsealed a dropped bomb threat case reported by The Associated Press about the suspected gunman, who will not be named per Daily Wire policy about not giving notoriety to mass killers.
“This interest is so significant I think I would even call it profound,” Chittum said, according to The Guardian. “To … see what occurred in a case is very foundational to our system of government to have that scrutiny,” adding that “the only way for that scrutiny to occur is for this to be unsealed.”
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office arrested the suspect at his mother’s home in Colorado Springs in June 2021 after responding to a report by the suspect’s mother alleging that he threatened to harm the family with homemade bomb materials, multiple weapons, and ammunition. Authorities later booked the male gunman on two counts of felony menacing and three first-degree kidnapping charges in connection to the bomb threat that led ten surrounding homes to evacuate, according to law enforcement documents.
However, authorities later dismissed the case without formal charges filed against the suspect, forcing officials to seal all documents automatically as required by Colorado law.
“This is one of the strangest hearings I think I’ve ever had,” Chittum said, according to The Associated Press. “I’m having a hearing about a case that none of us is to recognize.”
According to a verified copy of the unsealed documents from the news outlet, the suspect allegedly told his grandparents about the weapons and bomb-making material in their basement as he pointed a Glock handgun at them while they pleaded for their lives.
“You guys die today … I’m loaded and ready,” the suspect allegedly said while threatening them not to interfere with his mass killing plans.
His grandparents escaped from the house and called 911 as the suspect stepped away.
The suspect then held his grandparents hostage in a nearby home where the mother lived when a SWAT team and bomb squad arrived, waiting outside with rifles raised and bomb-sniffing dogs.
The suspect threatened to set off a bomb if authorities attempted to enter, but eventually surrendered.
The Associated Press reported that FBI agents received a tip about the suspect a day before the bomb threat and later closed the case within weeks after the incident.
Authorities have refused to speak about the details of the case to this day.
Remarks about allegedly intending to become “the next mass killer” from the suspect have brought about questions over the effectiveness of Colorado’s “red flag” gun law and why he was allowed to obtain the firearms.
Public defender Joseph Archambault argued the importance of the suspect’s right to a fair trial, saying, “This will make sure there is no presumption of innocence.”
An attorney for the suspect’s mother argued that unsealing the case would increase her risk of suffering harm, harassment, intimidation, or retaliation.
Attorneys for the suspect told the judge that they plan on filing a contempt of court motion against the sheriff’s office about details of the sealed document reported in The Associated Press story, which was first obtained by a Colorado Springs TV station and verified as authentic by an anonymous law enforcement official unauthorized to speak about the details of the case.
Judge Chittum said she would not rule against the motion, adding it would not hold up her decision about unsealing the documents to the public.
It is still being determined when the unsealed documents will be available.
Authorities formally charged the suspect — with court documents noting that he describes himself as non-binary and uses they/them pronouns — on Tuesday with 305 counts, including charges of assault, hate crimes, and murder. If convicted of first-degree murder, authorities said the alleged shooter faces a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Despite Colorado abolishing the death penalty in 2020, the suspect could still face it if federal prosecutors charge the suspect with crimes under the U.S. code, which still has capital punishment for certain crimes.