Colorado Springs LGBTQ club shooting suspect accused of killing 5 people held without bail

Colorado Springs LGBTQ club shooting suspect accused of killing 5 people held without bail

Colorado Springs LGBTQ club shooting suspect accused of killing 5 people held without bail

The alleged shooter faces possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting five people at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs was booked held without bail in an initial court appearance on Wednesday.

Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, appeared on video from the jail and could be seen slumped in a chair with injuries visible on his face and head. Aldrich appeared to need prompting from defense attorneys when asked to give his name by El Paso County Court Judge Charlotte Ankeny.

Aldrich was beaten into submission by the patrons during Saturday night shooting at Club Q and discharged from the hospital on Tuesday. The motive for the shooting was still under investigation, but authorities said he is facing possible murder and hate crime charges.

Hate crime charges would require proof that the shooter was motivated by bias, such as against the victims’ actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The charges against Aldrich are preliminary, and the prosecutor’s office has not yet brought formal charges. Aldrich is represented by Joseph Archambault, a chief trial officer with the state public defender’s office. Lawyers from the office do not comment on matters to the media.

Defense attorneys said late Tuesday that the suspect is non-binary. Standard court documents filed by the defense team refer to the suspect as “Mx. Aldrich,” and attorneys’ footnotes claim Aldrich is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns. The motions deal with issues such as unsealing documents and evidence collection, not Aldrich’s identity, and there was no elaboration on that.


Colorado Springs Police Department

Aldrich’s name was changed more than six years ago as a teenager, after filing a legal petition in Texas to “protect himself” from a father with a criminal history including domestic violence against Aldrich’s mother.

Aldrich was known as Nicholas Franklin Brink until 2016. Weeks before turning 16, Aldrich petitioned a Texas court for a name change, court records show. A petition for the name change was filed on Brink’s behalf by their grandparents, who were their legal guardians at the time.

“Minor wishes to protect herself and her future from any connection to birth father and his criminal history. Father has had no contact with minors for several years,” the petition, filed in Bexar County, Texas, states.

The suspect’s father is a mixed martial artist and pornographer with an extensive criminal history, including convictions for assaulting the alleged shooter’s mother, Laura Voepel, both before and after the suspect was born, state and federal court records show. A 2002 conviction in California resulted in a protective order that initially barred the father, Aaron F. Brink, from contacting the suspect or Voepel except through an attorney, but was later amended to allow supervised visitation with the child.

The father was also sentenced to 2 1/2 years in custody for importing marijuana and violating supervised release conditions by testing positive for illegal steroids, according to public records. Brink could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Aldrich’s request for a name change came months after Aldrich was apparently the victim of online bullying. A June 2015 website post attacking a teenager named Nick Brink suggests they may have been bullied in high school. The post included photos similar to photos of the shooting suspect and ridiculed Brink for their weight, lack of money and what it said was an interest in Chinese cartoons.

In addition, a YouTube account was opened in Brink’s name that included an animation titled “Asian Homosexual Being Assaulted.”

The name change and bullying were first reported by The Washington Post.

Court documents detailing Aldrich’s arrest were sealed at the request of prosecutors. Aldrich was released from the hospital and was being held in the El Paso County Jail, police said.

Local and federal authorities have declined to answer questions about why hate crime charges were considered. District Attorney Michael Allen noted that the murder charges would carry the most severe penalty — life in prison — while bias crimes are eligible for probation. He also said it was important to show society that bias-motivated crimes will not be tolerated.

Aldrich was arrested last year after their mother reported her child threatened her with a homemade bomb and other weapons. Ring doorbell video obtained by The Associated Press shows Aldrich arriving at his mother’s front door with a large black bag on the day of the 2021 bomb threat, telling her the police were nearby, adding: “This is where I stand. Today I die. “

Authorities said at the time that no explosives were found, but gun control advocates have questioned why police did not use Colorado’s “red flag” laws to seize the weapons Aldrich’s mother says her child had.

The assault over the weekend took place at a nightclub known as a haven for the LGBTQ community in this mostly conservative city of about 480,000 about 110 kilometers south of Denver.

A longtime Club Q patron who was shot in the back and thigh said the club’s reputation made it a target. In a video statement released by UC Health Memorial Hospital, Ed Sanders said he thought about what he would do in a mass shooting after the 2016 massacre of 49 people at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

“I think this incident underscores the fact that LGBT people need to be loved,” said Sanders, 63. “I want to be resilient. I’m a survivor. I’m not going to be taken out by a sick person.”

Authorities said Aldrich used a long rifle in the attack that was stopped by two club patrons including Richard Fierro, who told reporters he took a gun from Aldrich, hit them with it and pinned them down with the help of another person until police arrived.

The victims were Raymond Green Vance, 22, a Colorado Springs native who was saving money to get his own apartment; Ashley Paugh, 35, a mother who helped find homes for foster children; Daniel Aston, 28, who had worked at the club as a bartender and entertainer; Kelly Loving, 40, whose sister described her as “caring and sweet”; and Derrick Rump, 38, another club bartender known for his wit.

A database run by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University that tracks all mass killings in America back to 2006 shows that this year has been particularly bad. The United States has now had 40 mass murders so far this year, second only to the 45 that occurred in all of 2019. The database defines a mass murder as at least four people killed, not including the killer.


Bedayn is a staff member for The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on hidden issues.


Associated Press reporters Bernard Condon in New York, Jake Bleiberg in Dallas, Amy Forliti in Minneapolis, Matthew Brown in Billings, Montana, Jill Bleed in Little Rock, Arkansas, Stefanie Dazio in Los Angeles and news researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed.

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