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Suspect in Colorado LGBTQ+ club shooting to appear in court

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — The alleged shooter may face hate crime charges in a deadly shooting shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub are scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.

Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, who was beaten into submission by cartridges during Saturday evening shooting at the Q club, was supposed to appear at the hearing via video. The motive for the shooting remains under investigation, but authorities said Aldrich faces murder and hate crime charges.

A hate crime charge requires proving that the shooter was motivated by bias, such as against the actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of the victims. The allegations against Aldrich are preliminary and prosecutors have not yet filed formal charges. Aldrich is represented by Joseph Archambault, a deputy chief justice from the state public defender’s office. The lawyers of the office do not comment on the case to the media.

Defense attorneys said Tuesday night that the suspect is non-binary. In standard court filings filed by the defense team, the suspect is referred to as “Mc. Aldrich,” and attorneys’ footnotes state that Aldrich is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns. The motions concern matters such as the unsealing of documents and the collection of evidence, not Aldrich’s identity, and no details were provided.

Aldrich’s name was changed more than six years ago when he was a teenager after filing a court petition in Texas to “protect himself” from his father, who had a criminal record that included domestic violence against Aldrich’s mother.

Until 2016, Aldrich was known as Nicholas Franklin Brink. A few weeks before his 16th birthday, Aldrich applied to a Texas court to change his name, court records show. The name change petition was filed on Brink’s behalf by their grandparents, who were their legal guardians at the time.

“The minor wants to protect himself and his future from any connection with his biological father and his criminal history. The father has not had contact with the minor 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 battery against the alleged shooter’s mother, Laura Vopel, both before and after the suspect was born, state and federal court records show. A 2002 misdemeanor conviction in California led to a protective order that initially barred the father, Aaron F. Brink, from contacting the suspect or Voepel except through an attorney, but was later modified to allow supervised visitation with the child .

The father was also sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for importing marijuana, and while on probation, violated his terms by testing positive for illegal steroids, according to public records. Brink could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

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

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

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

Court documents on Aldrich’s arrest were sealed at the request of prosecutors. Aldrich was released from the hospital and booked into the El Paso County Jail, police said.

Local and federal authorities have declined to answer questions about why the hate crime charges are being investigated. District Attorney Michael Allen noted that the murder charges would carry the maximum penalty of life in prison, while the first-degree felony charge would be eligible for probation. He also said it’s important to show the public that bias-motivated crimes are unacceptable.

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

At the time, authorities said no explosives were found, but gun control advocates questioned why police didn’t use Colorado’s “red flag” law to seize the gun Aldrich’s mother said was in her child’s possession.

The attack happened over the weekend at a nightclub known as a haven for the LGBTQ community in this largely conservative city of about 480,000 people, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) south of Denver.

Long time patron of Club Q who was wounded in the back and hip said the club’s reputation made him a target. Speaking in a video statement released by the University of California Memorial Hospital, Ed Sanders said he thought about what he would do in a mass shooting after the 2016 massacre of 49 people. 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 stable. I survived. Some sick person won’t take me out.”

The attack was stopped by two club-goers, including Richard Fiera, who told reporters he took the gun from Aldrich, hit them with it and held them down with the help of another man until police arrived.

The victims were Raymond Green Vance, 22, a Colorado Springs native who was saving money to get his own apartment; Ashley Pau, 35, a mother who helped find homes for foster children; Daniel 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.

A The database is managed by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University which tracks all mass murders in America since 2006, shows that this year was particularly bad. The U.S. currently has 40 mass murders this year, second only to the 45 that occurred in all of 2019. The database defines mass murder as the killing of at least four people, excluding the killer.


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