Defense: Colorado gay club shooting suspect nonbinary

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal Five people shooting The suspect was not a member of a gay club in Colorado Springs, according to the defense team.

In several standard motions filed on behalf of Anderson Lee Aldrich on Tuesday, public defenders refer to the suspect as “Mx. Aldrich” noted in footnotes, that Aldrich, 22-year-old, is nonbinary. He/she uses they/them pronouns. These motions concern issues such as evidence gathering and unsealing documents, and not Aldrich’s identity. There was no explanation.

Aldrich, who was Patrons force you to submit during Saturday night’s Club Q – shootingAldrich was due to appear in court Wednesday via video link from jail. While the motive behind the shooting is still being investigated, authorities have stated that Aldrich could be facing murder and hate crimes charges.

Hate crime charges would require proving that the shooter was motivated by bias, such as against the victims’ actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Aldrich’s charges are preliminary and prosecutors have yet to file formal charges. Aldrich is represented by Joseph Archambault, a chief trial deputy with the state public defender’s office. The office does not comment on cases for the media.

It was also revealed Tuesday that 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 a father with a criminal history including domestic violence against Aldrich’s mother.

Aldrich was known until 2016 as Nicholas Franklin Brink. According to court records, Aldrich applied for a Texas court to change his name several weeks before turning 16. Their grandparents, who were at the time their legal guardians and submitted a petition to change their name on Brink’s behalf.

“Minor wishes for his safety and future from any links to his father and criminal history. The petition was filed in Bexar County Texas. It stated that the father had not been in contact with the minor for many years.

The suspect’s father is a mixed martial arts fighter and pornography performer with an extensive criminal history, including convictions for battery against the alleged shooter’s mother, Laura Voepel, both before and after the suspect was born, state and federal court records show. A 2002 California misdemeanor battery conviction resulted in a protective Order that initially prohibited Aaron F. Brink from contacting the suspect or Voepel without an attorney. However, it was later modified to allow monitored visits.

According to public records, the father was also sentenced for importation of marijuana. While on supervised released, he violated his conditions and tested positive for illegal steroids. Brink could not reach Brink Tuesday to comment.

Aldrich requested a name change months after he was apparently bullied online. A June 2015 website post that attacked Nick Brink, a teen, suggests that they were bullied in high school. The post featured photos similar to the one of the shooting suspect. It also ridiculed Brink over his weight, lack in money, and what it said was his interest in Chinese cartoons.

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

The Washington Post was the first to report on bullying and name changing.

Court documents laying out Aldrich’s arrest were sealed at the request of prosecutors. Aldrich was released by the hospital and was being held at El Paso County jail according to police.

Questions about hate crime charges have been evaded by both local and federal authorities. District Attorney Michael Allen noted that the murder charges would carry the harshest penalty — life in prison — whereas bias crimes are eligible for probation. He stated that it was important for the community to know that bias motivated crimes are not acceptable.

Aldrich was taken into custody last year after Aldrich’s mother reported that Aldrich threatened her with a bomb and other weapons. Ring doorbell video obtained by The Associated Press shows Aldrich arriving at their mother’s front door with a big black bag the day of the 2021 bomb threat, telling her the 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 have asked why police didn’t use Colorado’s “red flag” laws to seize the weapons Aldrich’s mother says her child had.

The weekend assault occurred at a nightclub that is known for being a sanctuary for the LGBTQ community. It is located about 70 miles (110 km) 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. Ed Sanders spoke out in a video release by UC Health Memorial Hospital. He said that he was thinking about what he would do if there were a mass shooting, following the massacre of 49 people at Orlando’s Pulse gay nightclub.

“I think this incident underlines the fact that LGBT people need to be loved,” said Sanders, 63. “I want to be resilient. I’m a survivor. I’m not going to be taken out by some sick person.”

Richard Fierro, a club patron, told reporters that Aldrich gave him a handgun and that he hit the two men with it. Then he pinned them down with help of another person until police arrived.

The Victims were Raymond Green Vance, 22, a Colorado Springs native who was saving money to get his own apartment; Ashley Paugh, 35, a mother who helped find homes for foster children; Daniel Aston, 28, who had worked at the club as a bartender and entertainer; 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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Bedayn is a Corps member for The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America It is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local media outlets to report on unreported issues.

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Associated Press reporters Bernard Condon, Colleen Stlevin, Denver, Jake Bleiberg, Amy Forliti, Matthew Brown, Billings, Montana, Jill Bleed, Little Rock, Arkansas, Stefanie dazio in Los Angeles, and Rhonda Shafner, news researcher from New York contributed.

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