Colorado shooting suspect to make first court appearance

The motive for the shooting is still under investigation, but authorities say Aldrich could face murder and hate crimes charges.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The alleged shooter who could face hate crimes charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs has been ordered to be arrested without release on bail. first court on Wednesday as the suspect slumped in a chair.

Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, can be seen with facial and head injuries in a short video that emerged from prison. Aldrich appeared to need the defenses’ promptings and gave a vague answer when asked by Judge Charlotte Ankeny of El Paso County Court to name them.

The suspect was beaten by patrons during the Saturday night shooting at Club Q and was released from the hospital on Tuesday. The motive for the shooting is still under investigation, but authorities say Aldrich could face murder and hate crimes charges.

Hate crime charges will require proof that the shooter was motivated by bias, such as against the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The charges against Aldrich are preliminary and prosecutors have yet to file formal charges.

Defense attorneys said late Tuesday that the suspect is not bisexual and in court filings referred to him as “Mx. Aldrich.” The attorney’s footnotes assert that Aldrich is not binary and uses the pronoun surname/surname.

Prosecutor Michael Allen repeatedly referred to the suspect as “he” during his post-hearing news conference and said the suspect’s gender status would not change anything about the case in his view. Allen said Aldrich was “physically competent” to press charges.

Ankeny sets the next hearing for December 6.

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

Aldrich was known as Nicholas Franklin Brink until 2016. A few weeks before he turned 16, Aldrich successfully filed a lawsuit in a Texas court for a name change, court records show. At the time, his legal guardians filed a request for a name change to Brink.

“Minor wants to protect himself and his future from any connection to his biological father and his criminal record. Father has not had contact with Minor for several years,” the lawsuit filed in Bexar County, Texas said.

The suspect’s father, Aaron Brink, is a mixed martial artist and porn performer with multiple criminal histories, including a conviction for assaulting the shooter’s mother, Laura Voepel, both before and after the suspect. was born, state and federal court records show. A 2002 misdemeanor conviction in California resulted in a protective order that initially prohibited Aaron Brink from communicating with the suspect or Voepel except through an attorney, but was later modified to allow supervised visits. close to the child.

Aaron Brink told the San Diego CBS affiliate, KFMB-TV, that he was shocked to learn of Aldrich’s alleged involvement. He said his first reaction was to question why Aldrich was at a gay bar. Brink said he did not have much contact with his children but taught them to fight, “praising” Aldrich for his violent behavior as a child. He added that he was sorry for letting Aldrich down. “There’s no reason to go and kill people,” Brink said. If you’re killing people, then something’s wrong. That’s not the answer.”

One of the suspect’s grandfathers is Randy Voepel, an outgoing lawmaker in the California State Assembly. The suspect’s mother, Laura Voepel, identified Randy Voepel as her father on her Facebook page in a 2020 post about his time working in the state Legislature.

Voepel, a Republican, has had a mixed record of voting on LGBTQ bills. He compared the January 6 attack on the US Capitol to the Revolutionary War, calling it “the first shots fired at tyranny”. In response to the criticism, he later said that he does not “tolerate or support the violence and lawlessness that has taken place.”

Randy Voepel did not return phone calls seeking comment. It’s unclear how close he was to the suspect.

Aldrich’s request to change his name comes months after Aldrich was apparently the target of online bullying. A website posting from June 2015 attacked a teenager named Nick Brink suggesting they may have been bullied in high school. The post included photos similar to those of the shooting suspect and mocked Brink about his weight, lack of money and what it said was an interest in Chinese cartoons.

Additionally, a YouTube account was opened under Brink’s name that included an animation titled “Asian Gays Sexually Abused”.

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

Local and federal authorities declined to say why the hate crime allegations were being reviewed. District Attorney Michael Allen noted that murder charges would carry the harshest punishment – life in prison – while the offense of bias qualifies for a suspended sentence. He also said it is important to show the community that crimes with a biased motive are not tolerated.

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

Authorities at the time said no explosives were found, but gun control advocates asked why police didn’t use Colorado’s “red flag” laws to seize a weapon that Aldrich’s mother had say her child has.

Allen declined to answer questions about the 2021 bomb threat following Wednesday’s hearing.

The weekend attack took place at a nightclub known as a sanctuary for the LGBTQ community in this mostly conservative city of about 480,000 about 70 miles (110 km) south of Denver. .

A longtime Q Club patron who was shot said the club’s reputation made it a target. In a video statement, Ed Sanders said he was thinking about what he would do in the wake of the 2016 mass shooting following the 2016 massacre of 49 people at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

“I think this incident highlights the fact that LGBT people need to be loved,” Sanders, 63, said. “I want to be resilient. I am a survivor. I won’t be caught by some sick person.

Authorities said Aldrich used a long rifle and was stopped by two club patrons including Richard Fierro, who told reporters he took a pistol from Aldrich. , used it to beat them and pin them down with the help of another person until the police arrived.

The victims were 22-year-old Raymond Green Vance, originally from Colorado Springs who was saving money to buy his own apartment; Ashley Paugh, 35, a mother who helps find homes for her adopted children; Daniel Aston, 28, who has worked at the club as a bartender and entertainer; Kelly Loving, 40, whose older sister describes her as “caring and sweet”; and Derrick Rump, 38, another club bartender known for his intelligence. Colorado shooting suspect to make first court appearance

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