The suspect in this weekend’s shooting rampage in Colorado Springs was known to law enforcement long before authorities say he walked into Club Q, an LGBTQ nightclub, and opened fire, killing five people and injuring 17 others. 

Back in 2021, sheriff’s deputies in SWAT gear responded to his home for a bomb threat after he allegedly threatened his mother with a homemade bomb, forcing neighbors in surrounding homes to evacuate while the bomb squad and crisis negotiators talked him into surrendering. 

Critics say the concerning behavior is exactly the type of indicator that police or family could use to request an “emergency risk” order to strip firearm access and prevent gun violence. 

But if members of the public inquire about the incident, the police, court and prosecutors all are required to say there is no record of it, almost as though it never happened. 

The situation put a spotlight on a national trend in criminal justice reform known as “collateral relief.” In short: giving those accused of a crime a chance to move on in an arrest that never resulted in a conviction, as was the case in El Paso County in 2021 with Anderson Lee Aldrich, the suspect in the mass shooting in Colorado late Saturday.

‘Didn’t have time to scream’:As the shooting started at Club Q, bodies fell, and an Army vet rose

Hero takes down gunman: Former Army soldier went into hero mode to subdue shooter at Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub

The law, and others like it in Colorado, passed in 2019 and was sponsored by State Sen. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, the site of the massacre.

He says the vanishing police report is not a flaw, but the system working as intended.

“We overcharge, over-incarcerate and over-criminalize everything in our criminal justice system,” Lee said Tuesday. “There are lots of people walking around that have records from their past as an impediment to moving on, getting loans, housing jobs or housing.”

Lee said questions about the system should be directed to the district attorney who decided against prosecuting Aldrich last year—which could have created a criminal record. That record, in turn could have prevented the shooter from legally purchasing firearms.

More:Police say LGBTQ club shooter used ‘long rifle’ and acted alone: What we know about the attacker and Colorado gun laws

More:Instead of ‘deadnaming,’ police take bold step of verifying Colorado shooting victims’ names, pronouns