A glimpse into the difficult life of the Club Q mass shooting suspect

New details have emerged in the case of Anderson Aldrich, the suspect in a fatal shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub, raising further questions about a possible motive for the attack that left five dead and 18 injured in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The day before Aldrich’s first court appearance, the 22-year-old’s attorneys filed documents explaining that Aldrich identifies as non-twin and uses they/them pronouns.

This information is among the few things collected about Aldrich.

Scattered elements of the suspect’s biography — a name change, an arrest in 2021 where their mother accused them of threatening her with a homemade bomb, a family connection to a California police officer — have emerged. But much is still unknown.

Little about Aldrich has surfaced online or on social media, and only the suspect’s estranged father has spoken publicly since the Colorado shooting.

Aldrich appeared via video Wednesday from the El Paso County Jail for a six-minute hearing after being released from the hospital after Saturday’s attack. They were ordered held without bail. No formal charges have yet been filed and the next trial is scheduled for December. 6.

The suspect spoke only while answering the judge’s questions. They said their name out loud, “Anderson Aldrich,” and answered yes when the judge asked if they had watched the video about their constitutional rights in this case.

Aldrich was arrested on suspicion of murder and bias crime — Colorado’s term for hate crimes — police said, but officials have not said what led to the shooting.

Lawyers say Aldrich’s gender identity has no bearing on whether hate crime charges can be filed.

A spokesman for Colorado’s 4th District Attorney’s Office declined to comment on whether Aldrich’s gender identity would disqualify them from charges in connection with the fatal shooting, saying “evidence will lead to the appropriate charges.”

Aldrich’s attorneys asked that the warrant be unsealed but did not respond to further requests for comment.

Front and side view of a man with bruises on his face

Shooter Anderson Aldrich in his booking photo.

(Colorado Springs Police Department)

Aldrich was born May 20, 2000, to Laura Voepel and Aaron Brink in California, according to Orange County court records. The following year, Brink filed for divorce and Voepel was granted full custody of their child, without Brink’s visitation rights.

In the following years, Aldrich moved with his mother to Texas and then to Colorado, sometimes living with his maternal grandmother. They also have a younger brother, according to Voepel’s Facebook page.

Aldrich is the grandson of California Rep. Randy Voepel (R-Santee), a legislative aide told The Times on Monday.

The outgoing state representative previously aligned with the Tea Party movement and later drew criticism for comments that resembled Jan. 6 riot at the US Capitol because of the shots fired at “Lexington and Concord” in the Revolutionary War. He declined to comment further about his grandson Monday, the aide said.

Aldrich’s parents have criminal records, court documents show. Laura Voepel was found guilty of a lesser charge of criminal mischief in San Antonio and sentenced to five years of probation, according to court documents.

Brink, Aldrich’s father, was also arrested on drug-related charges and other crimes. Brink was an MMA fighter, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette. He appeared in an episode of the reality television show “Intervention,” according to his IMDb page.

Court records in Bexar County, Texas, show Aldrich requested a formal name change six years ago to Anderson Lee Aldrich. The request was approved on May 4, 2016.

According to the Associated Press, the request for the name change said Aldrich wanted to protect their future “from any association with his birth father and his criminal history.” Father has not had contact with minors for several years.”

The Washington Post reported that Aldrich had endured “particularly vicious online bullying.”

The attorney representing the family in the case did not respond to questions from The Times.

Kristen Browde, an attorney and president of the National Trans Bar Assn., said that regardless of Aldrich’s gender identity, “a person’s membership in a protected group in no way precludes the possibility that the crime the individual commits is motivated by hate.”

“The fact is, no matter what that person’s motivation turns out to be, the fact is that there are extremists speaking from lecterns and broadcasting microphones who are inciting violence and saying things like, ‘I would not shed a tear’ or that LGBT.” People should be tied up and shot in the back of the head,” she said. “Whether it turns out to be the motivation for this attack or not, such statements are dangerous.”

Brink said his ex-wife told her that Aldrich had changed their name because of embarrassment over Brink being their father and that Aldrich had died, the New York Times reported.

But a month ago, Aldrich called Brink. The conversation turned into an argument, with Aldrich threatening to beat Brink up.

Brink, who describes himself as religious and a conservative Republican, told the newspaper that he had expressed distaste for gay people when Aldrich was younger, but offered his condolences to the families of the victims.

Aldrich was arrested in June 2021 in the Colorado Springs suburb where they and their mother lived at the time, after Voepel reported that Aldrich had threatened her with “a homemade bomb, multiple weapons and ammunition,” according to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. .

The incident ended in a standoff with deputies and the evacuation of nearby homes, but officials said they did not find any explosives after Aldrich’s arrest.

This happened at the home of Leslie Bowman, who was renting a room from Aldrich’s mother. Bowman shared footage from her Ring security camera with The Times that shows Aldrich — who she said passed on Andy — entering her house.

In the video, Aldrich said, “The police have surrounded the house. This is where I stand, okay? … Today I die.”

Voepel replied, “What’s going on?”

“They don’t care about me anymore, apparently,” Aldrich replied.

In another video taken by Bowman from a Facebook Live stream, which Bowman said Aldrich posted during the confrontation, Aldrich was seen wearing what appears to be a helmet and body armor.

“That’s your boy,” Aldrich said in a taped live broadcast. “If they break, Ima … blow it to holy hell!”

In the final Ring video from the incident, Aldrich was seen exiting Bowman’s house about three hours later with his hands in the air and no longer wearing a helmet or body armor. The police chief’s report says that Aldrich was arrested without incident. However, charges related to the incident were later dismissed.

There is also no official record that police or relatives tried to trigger Colorado’s “red flag” law after the arrest, which could have allowed authorities to seize any weapons or ammunition Aldrich owned, or prevent him from they bought them, at least temporarily.

Bowman said Aldrich’s mother moved out of the room she rented about two days after the arrest, and she hasn’t seen Voepel or Aldrich since. At the time, Aldrich lived about a mile away with his grandparents but visited his mother often, Bowman said. She said the teenager was never talkative and that Voepel and Aldrich would often watch movies together.

They “came from time to time, sometimes once or twice a week,” Bowman said. She described Aldrich as “quite calm.”

She said there was only one other incident where Aldrich became aggressive, got in her face and slammed the door on her after Bowman and Voepel’s argument in early 2020. But Bowman said. Aldrich did not become physically abusive and she chalked it up to being protective of their mother. Bowman said he did not know if Aldrich, then 20, was in school or working.

Bowman said she found it hard to believe that Aldrich identified as non-binary.

“I have only known him as he/him. Laura just always referred to him as “my son,” Bowman said. “There was never anything other than he/him pronouns and referring to him in the male gender.”

Bowman said he remains concerned that the original charges against Aldrich were dropped.

“In an incident this serious, there should at least be some kind of procedure, just something, to hold.” [them] on the radar,” she said.

In the month before the shooting, Aldrich’s mother posted on a Facebook group for women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints asking for help.

She asked in February for a recommendation for a “trauma/PTSD therapist,” writing that it was for a “21-year-old,” the same age Aldrich was at the time.

Nearly three months later, she asked if someone could refer her child — who she described as “6’6″ tall and punches like a freight train” — to a personal boxing trainer.

“Can’t find a good gym or anyone serious,” she wrote. The post said her baby had “made some big life changes and needs this!”

Times staff writers Hannah Wiley and Terry Castleman contributed to this report.

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