Anderson Lee Aldrich: Who is Colorado Springs shooting suspect?
The suspect in the Colorado Springs mass shooting at an LGBTQ+ nightclub had a turbulent upbringing, tumultuous family relationships and threatening behaviour.
Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, is accused of killing five people and injuring at least 25 others after entering Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado on Saturday (19 November) night. Aldrich faces murder and hate crime charges in connection to the shooting.
Police named Daniel Aston, Derrick Rump, Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh and Raymond Green Vance as victims who lost their lives as a result of the attack.
Court documents, filed by Aldrich’s lawyers, state that Aldrich is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns. They are expected to make their first court appearance in the coming days after being released from the hospital following the shooting.
A review of birth and court records as well as information about Aldrich’s family uncovered by media outlets have begun to shed light on their life, giving the public insight into the suspected shooter’s past.
Aldrich was born Nicholas Franklin Brink in 2000 to parents Aaron Franklin Brink and Laura Voepel, according to CNN. Their father filed for divorce in September 2001, and Voepel stated in a 2007 court filing that Aldrich had no contact with their father.
Brink was a mixed martial arts fighter and porn actor who has spent time in prison for drug charges, The Washington Post reported. He was also convicted on battery charges against Voepel in the past.
The alleged shooter’s mother is the daughter of Republican California assemblyman Randy Voepel, who compared the 6 January attack on the US Capitol to the American revolutionary war.
She was granted sole legal and physical custody of Aldrich in 2007. Voepel struggled with the law, including being arrested on suspected arson charges when Aldrich was 12-years-old, and mental health issues in the following years, according to CNN.
Colorado Springs shooting suspect was the subject of an online bullying campaign as a teen
In 2015, Anderson Lee Aldrich was the subject of a bullying page on a Wikipedia-like website, which included a fictitious biography of the then-teenager filled with offensive language and ridicule, the Washington Post reported.
Additionally, a YouTube account was set up under Aldrich’s birth name that featured an animation titled “Asian homosexual gets molested”.
It was revealed that Aldrich changed their name as a teenager in 2016. Just before turning 16, Aldrich petitioned a Texas court for a name change to “protect” the teen from “any connections to birth father and his criminal history”.
The petition was submitted on the teen’s behalf by their grandparents, who were legal guardians at the time, and described how Aldrich’s father had “no contact with the minor for several years”.
Aldrich was also a member of the Church of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), also known as the Mormon church. The church has faced backlash in recent years for its opposition to same-sex marriage, queer relationships and LGBTQ+ identities.
In a statement to Fox 13, an LDS spokesperson confirmed Aldrich was listed on the church’s membership roll but “not been active in some time”. The statement also condemned the “senseless act of violence in Colorado Springs” and said the church joined with “others in mourning the loss of those whose lives were taken”.
The spokesperson added Aldrich “did not exhibit signs of believing or associating with members of the Church” and said disparaging an “entire faith” based on the alleged shooter’s actions was “problematic”.
Anderson Lee Aldrich was previously arrested in connection with a bomb threat
Aldrich was arrested in June 2021 in connection to a bomb threat that led to a standoff at their mother’s home, according to a release from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.
Voepel told police that Aldrich threatened her with a “homemade bomb, multiple weapons and ammunition” and that several nearby homes were evacuated.
Aldrich was seen on Ring doorbell camera video, obtained by CNN, surrendering to police as an armoured vehicle and several patrol cars surrounded the property they were residing in.
In another video, also obtained by CNN, Aldrich ranted about the police and threatened to “blow [the house] to holy hell” if officers breached it.
“I’ve got the f*****g s**theads outside, look at that, they’ve got a bead on me,” Aldrich said in the video, pointing at a covered window.
“You see that right there? F*****g s**theads got their f*****g rifles out.”
“If they breach, I’mma f**king blow it to holy hell.”
Aldrich was charged with felony menacing and kidnapping concerning the bomb threat, the El Paso County Sherriff’s Office stated. However, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported the district attorney’s office said no formal charges were pursued in the case, which has since been sealed.
The 2021 arrest raised questions about why Colorado’s “red flag” law didn’t come into play
Colorado’s “red flag” law, which took effect in 2020, is supposed to give law enforcement agencies or private citizens the ability to petition a judge to temporarily seize an individual’s firearms if they pose a significant risk to themselves or others.
There were no records of relatives or police filing a petition to use the red flag law to take away firearms from Aldrich following the 2021 bomb threat, the Associated Press reported.
Colorado state representative Tom Sullivan, whose son was killed at the 2012 Aurora theatre mass shooting and sponsor of the law, said Aldrich’s 2021 threat was an example of the legislation being ignored.
“We need heroes beforehand — parents, co-workers, friends who are seeing someone go down this path,” Sullivan said.
“This should have alerted them, put him on their radar.”
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