Colorado Gay Club Shooting Suspect Is Nonbinary

Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP) – The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is nonbinary, the suspect’s defense team has said in court filings.

In several standard motions filed Tuesday on behalf of Anderson Lee Aldrich, public defenders referred to the suspect as “MX.” Aldrich,” the footnotes note, noting that Aldrich, 22, is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns. These proposals deal with issues such as sealed documents and evidence gathering, not Aldrich’s identity and any There was no detail.

Aldrich, who was beaten into submission by patrons during Saturday night’s shooting at Club Q, was to appear in court for the first time on Wednesday by video from jail. The motive for the shooting is still under investigation, but officials said Aldrich faces possible murder and hate crime charges.

Hate crime charges would require proving that the shooter was motivated by prejudice, such as against the victims’ actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The charges against Aldrich are preliminary, and prosecutors have not yet filed formal charges. Aldrich is represented by Joseph Archambault, Chief Trial Deputy, Office of the State Public Defender. Office of attorneys does not comment on matters to the media.

It was also revealed Tuesday that Aldrich’s name was changed six years ago as a teenager, after filing a legal petition in Texas seeking to “protect himself” from a father with a criminal history, including domestic violence, against Aldrich’s mother. was done.

Aldrich was known as Nicholas Franklin Brink until 2016. Before she turned 16, Aldrich petitioned a Texas court for a name change, court records show. On Brink’s behalf, his grandparents, who were his legal guardians at the time, submitted a petition for a name change.

The petition, filed in Bexar County, Texas, states, “The minor wishes to protect himself and his future from any association with the birth father and his criminal history. The father has had no contact with the minor for several years.” “

The suspect’s father is a mixed martial arts fighter and pornography artist with an extensive criminal history, including convictions for battery against the alleged shooter’s mother, Laura Voepel, in state and federal courts, both before and after the suspect’s birth. Shows the records of A 2002 misdemeanor battery conviction in California resulted in a protective order that initially barred the father, Aaron F. Brink, from contacting the suspect or Vopel except through an attorney, but later allowed supervised visits with the child. Modified for.

According to public records, the father was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in custody for importing marijuana and violated his terms by testing positive for illegal steroids while on supervised release. Brink could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

The request to change Aldrich’s name came months after Aldrich was apparently targeted by online bullying. A website posting from June 2015 that a teen named Nick Brink was assaulted suggests he may have been bullied in high school. The post included photos similar to those of the shooting suspect and ridiculed Brink for his weight, lack of money, and interest in Chinese cartoons.

Additionally, a YouTube account was opened in Brink’s name that included an animation titled “Asian lesbians flirting”.

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

Court documents related to Aldrich’s arrest were sealed at the request of prosecutors. Police said Aldrich had been released from the hospital and was being held at the El Paso County Jail.

Local and federal officials have declined to answer questions about why hate crime charges are being considered. District Attorney Michael Allen said the murder charges carry the harshest penalties — life in prison — while the prejudicial offenses are eligible for probation. He also said it is important to show the community that crimes motivated by bias are not tolerated.

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

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

The weekend attack happened at a nightclub known as a sanctuary for the LGBTQ community in this conservative city of about 480,000, about 70 miles (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. Speaking in a video statement released by UC Health Memorial Hospital, Ed Sanders said he wondered what he would do in the aftermath of the 2016 mass shooting that killed 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. No sick person is going to take me out.”

The attack was stopped by two club patrons, including Richard Fierro, who told reporters that they took a handgun from Aldrich, hit him with it and held him down with the help of another man until police arrived.

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

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Beden is a core member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercover issues.

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From Associated Press reporters Bernard Condon in New York, Colleen Slevin in Denver, Jake Bleiberg in Dallas, Amy Forliti in Minneapolis, Matthew Brown in Billings, Montana, Jill Bled in Little Rock, Arkansas, Stephanie Dazio in Los Angeles and news researcher Rhonda Schaffner Contributed by New York.

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