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13 Investigates: A look at Colorado’s red flag law, who can enforce it and why

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- More and more questions are being raised on whether or not Colorado's red flag laws could've prevented the suspect in a mass shooting at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub from legally owning a firearm.

Saturday, just before midnight, a gunman entered Club Q and opened fire. Five people lost their lives and dozens more were injured.

The 22-year-old suspect, Anderson Aldrich, has since been released from the hospital and booked into the El Paso County Jail.

The mass shooting wasn't the first time the suspect interacted with law enforcement. In 2021, the El Paso County Sheriff's Office released information stating the suspect had been taken into custody after his mother reported that he threatened her with multiple weapons and ammunition.

In video obtained by 13 Investigates, the suspect is seen holding a gun and wearing a rifle during the 2021 incident. While he was taken into custody, he was never prosecuted in the case.

In a 2019 bill, the Colorado legislature allowed members of the public and law enforcement officers to petition a court for the installation of extreme risk protection. If ordered, it would require the relinquishment of weapons from an individual for up to one year.

However, in a press conference on Tuesday, 4th Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen said a sitting district attorney is not included as a "law enforcement officer or agency" as listed in the law.

"The DA's office doesn't play a part in the red flag law. That would be up to a law enforcement agency. That's why I say nobody in this group can really answer that specific question. It has to be initiated by law enforcement or a member of the public, not by the DA's office," Allen said.

13 Investigates spoke with two sitting district attorneys, a former district attorney, and a criminal defense attorney about whether Allen's comments were correct.

All four said they were under the impression a district attorney does fall under "law enforcement officer or agency" as outlined in Title 20, Title 13, and House Bill 19-1177, which became Colorado's red flag law.

"They absolutely have law enforcement capabilities. They carry law enforcement badges. They have investigators on their staff with arrest capabilities," Colorado Springs Attorney Jeremy Loew said. "The district attorney's office is without question, a law enforcement agency."

Huerfano County District Attorney Henry Solano told 13 Investigates it's not common for a district attorney to file for an ERPO, but rather for an investigator in their office.

"Unless the DA's office does not have an investigator, who by statute is also a law enforcement officer, they would use their investigator. So a deputy district attorney is not a witness in any hearing or proceeding related to the Colorado Red Flag Law," Solano said.

13 Investigates reached out to DA Allen's office for comment on the findings. They did not respond to our request for comment.

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Sean Rice

Sean is reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about him here.

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