FBI asking about videos and racist website in connection with Colorado shooting
The FBI is asking about two websites in connection with last month’s shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado that left five dead and 17 others injured, a former neighbor and friend of the suspect told NBC News.
The former neighbor, Xavier Kraus, said an FBI agent asked him about the two websites at an FBI field office in Colorado Springs last Thursday afternoon after an agent called him earlier that day.
One of the websites, Kraus said he told investigators, was created by Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, who was charged Tuesday with 305 criminal counts, including first-degree murder and bias-motivated crimes, in the mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs shortly before midnight on Nov. 19. Aldrich was subdued by three club patrons shortly after the shooting began and was then arrested by authorities.
The website allegedly created by Aldrich is a forum-type “free speech” site where people have anonymously posted racist and antisemitic memes, language and videos.
A video on the homepage titled “Wrong Targets” advocates for killing civilians as part of a larger effort to “assassinate the elites at the top” and “cleanse” society.
A link on the homepage that reads “Visit Our Brother Site!” directs to a webpage with links to four short videos, each uploaded in two different formats, that appear to have been posted in the hours leading up to the shooting.
Two of the videos show the inside of a Toyota at night; in one, the dashboard clock reads 11:44, and the person recording the video says “OK” before ending it. The videos appear to have gone up from 9:28 p.m. to 11:43 p.m. local time on the night of the shooting. While it is unclear who recorded and posted the videos, one frame in the 11:44 video shows a reflection in the rearview mirror that resembles Aldrich.
Aldrich arrived at Club Q around 11:55 p.m. in a gold Toyota Highlander, police said in an affidavit released Wednesday, and local police began receiving 911 calls about a shooting at at 11:56 p.m.
The “brother site” previously hosted video of the mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, in May that left 10 people dead, according to an archive of the page that was viewed by NBC News. Links to the site were quickly shared on the extremist sites 4chan and 8kun (formerly 8chan) in the days after the shooting, where the site and video were discussed.
Public defenders representing Aldrich, who is being held without bond, didn’t immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment.
A spokesperson for the FBI’s Denver field office said, “The Denver FBI Field Office, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, National Security Division, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado are aware of the situation regarding the shooting in Colorado Springs at Club Q, and we will review all available facts of the incident to determine what federal response is warranted.” The Colorado Springs police department didn’t return a request for comment.
Kraus, who, according to public records, lived one door away from Aldrich in a Colorado Springs apartment complex, said he told the FBI that Aldrich made the free speech website in late spring or early summer. Kraus said Aldrich described the site as “a platform where people could go and post pretty much whatever they want.”
“At the time, I was like, OK, I can kind of get behind that, I guess, not really realizing what it was going to actually turn into,” Kraus said. He added that he and Aldrich — whose attorneys have said is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns — visited the site together at Aldrich’s apartment about two or three times after the site was live, and that Aldrich once said they had forgotten to moderate the content added by others.
Kraus said that most of the posts currently on the site, including the racist content, were not there when he visited it with Aldrich. A message at the top of the site’s homepage states, “There are two Rules. NO CP and NO SPAMMING,” with “CP” presumably referring to child pornography.
Kraus said the agents asked whether Aldrich posted the “Wrong Targets” video on the homepage. Kraus said he told them that the video’s placement on the site “was something that only an admin could do.” He knew this because he had previously visited the site with Aldrich, but he was unable to confirm that Aldrich was the one to post the video.
The FBI also asked Kraus about the “brother site” that included the video links and whether he knew anything about it or what was on it, he said. Kraus said an agent unsuccessfully tried to access that site on a laptop while Kraus was at the field office, and a subsequent text message between Kraus and the agent also shows the agent was unable to open it at the time.
One of the four videos appears to quickly pan around the inside of an apartment. Kraus confirmed that the apartment shown was the apartment that Aldrich had lived in with their mother when Aldrich and Kraus were neighbors.
One of the videos is completely black throughout, and the two videos recorded inside the vehicle are dark, but some details can be made out. In one of the vehicle videos, the person recording says, “Shoutout to professional seven sins,” and the car dashboard clock reads 10:06.
After listening to the voice in the videos, Kraus said it “sounds very, very similar” to Aldrich, but he could not confirm this with certainty.
When asked about the “professional seven sins” remark, Kraus said that he and Aldrich were both familiar with an online community called Se7en Sins Gaming Community, but Kraus didn’t know the meaning of the remark. One of the administrators of this online community goes by the name “Professional.”
If this remark was meant to refer to the online gaming community and is tied to the alleged Club Q gunman, it would not be the first time such a reference was made by a mass shooter. Brenton Tarrant, who in 2019 shot and killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, said during a livestream of the shootings, “subscribe to PewDiePie,” a reference to a viral meme about a popular YouTuber who posted videos of himself playing video games. A livestream of the shooting was posted to 8chan, eventually leading to the site’s ban in New Zealand and rebranding to 8kun.
Less than one month later, a shooter at the Poway Synagogue in California posted a largely identical manifesto to the Christchurch shooter on 8chan shortly before the attack. Investigators said the shooter tried and failed to set up a livestream of the shooting.
Kraus said that he has felt a “tremendous amount of guilt” since the Club Q shooting. He said that he did not challenge Aldrich when they made racist or homophobic statements, including stating that they “hate faggots,” because Aldrich was “an angry person” who also owned guns.
“I know that this wasn’t something that I did, but, I don’t know how to explain it, I feel absolutely horrible knowing that I knew somebody and got to know somebody and made friends with somebody that could go in and do this horrible thing,” Kraus said. “There’s some nights I just cry, because it could have been me, it could have been, who knows what could have happened — it’s just terrifying.”
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com