fogn.png
Thursday December 8th, 2022 4:43AM

Colorado gay club shooting suspect to be at court hearing

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is 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 patrons during Saturday night's shooting at Club Q, was scheduled to appear by video at the hearing. The motive in the shooting was still under investigation, but authorities said Aldrich faces possible murder and hate crime 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. The charges against Aldrich are preliminary, and prosecutors have not yet filed formal charges. Aldrich is represented by Joseph Archambault, a chief trial deputy with the state public defender’s office. Lawyers from the office do not comment on cases to the media.

Defense attorneys said late Tuesday that the suspect is nonbinary. Standard court filings submitted by the defense team refer to the suspect as “Mx. Aldrich,” and the attorneys' footnotes assert that Aldrich is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns. The motions deal with issues like unsealing documents and evidence gathering, not Aldrich’s identity and there was no elaboration about it.

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 as Nicholas Franklin Brink until 2016. Weeks before turning 16, Aldrich petitioned a Texas court for a name change, court records show. A petition for the name change was submitted on Brink's behalf by their grandparents, who were their legal guardians at the time.

"Minor wishes to protect himself and his future from any connections to birth father and his criminal history. Father has had no contact with minor for several years," said the petition filed in Bexar County, Texas.

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 misdemeanor battery conviction in California resulted in 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 monitored visits with the child.

The father also was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in custody for importation of marijuana and while on supervised release violated his conditions by testing positive for illegal steroids, according to public records. Brink could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Aldrich's request for a name change came months after Aldrich was apparently targeted by online bullying. A website posting from June 2015 that attacked a teen named Nick Brink suggests they may have been bullied in high school. The post included photos similar to ones of the shooting suspect and ridiculed Brink over their weight, lack of money and what it said was an interest in Chinese cartoons.

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

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

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

Local and federal authorities have declined to answer questions about why hate crime charges were being considered. 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 also said it was important to show the community that bias motivated crimes are not tolerated.

Aldrich was arrested last year after their mother reported her child threatened her with a homemade 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 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 kilometers) 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. Speaking in a video statement released by UC Health Memorial Hospital, Ed Sanders said he thought about what he would do in a mass shooting after the 2016 massacre of 49 people at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

“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.”

Authorities said Aldrich used a long rifle in the attack that was halted by two club patrons including Richard Fierro, who told reporters that he took a handgun from Aldrich, hit them with it and pinned them down with help from 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.

A database run by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University that tracks every mass killing in America going back to 2006 shows this year has been especially bad. The U.S. has now had 40 mass killings so far this year, second to the 45 that occurred for all of 2019. The database defines a mass killing as at least four people killed, not including the killer.

___

Bedayn is a corps member for The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

___

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

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, AP Entertainment
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Dominican sugar imports tied to forced labor rejected by US
The U.S. government says it will detain all imports of sugar and related products made in the Dominican Republic by the country's largest sugar producer amid allegations that it uses forced labor
9:30AM ( 11 minutes ago )
Witness: Walmart employee opened fire in break room; 6 dead
A witness says a Walmart manager opened fire on fellow employees gathered in the break room of a Virginia store
9:29AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Pope links plight of Ukrainians today to Stalin's 'genocide'
Pope Francis is linking the suffering of Ukrainians now to the 1930s “genocide" by starvation that the country experienced under Josef Stalin
9:27AM ( 14 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Unemployment claims rise to 240,000, highest since August
The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose the highest level since August but still remained low by historic standards
8:36AM ( 1 hour ago )
Walmart employee fired on co-workers in break room; 6 dead
A witness says a Walmart manager opened fire on fellow employees gathered in the break room of a Virginia store
8:35AM ( 1 hour ago )
Police: Walmart employee opened fire in store, killing 6
Police say a Walmart employee opened fire at a store in Virginia, leaving six people dead
8:20AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Police: 6 people, assailant dead in Walmart shooting
Police say six people have been killed after a shooter opened fire at a Walmart in Virginia
5:37AM ( 4 hours ago )
Virginia police: Multiple people killed in Walmart shooting
Police say a shooting at a Walmart in Virginia has left several people dead or wounded
4:57AM ( 4 hours ago )
Defense: Colorado gay club shooting suspect is nonbinary
The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is nonbinary, the suspect’s defense team says in court filings In several standard motions filed on behalf of Anderson Lee Aldrich on Tuesday, public defenders refer to the suspect as “Mx
1:07AM ( 8 hours ago )
Top U.S. News short headlines
Wilko Johnson, British rocker who defied cancer, dies at 75
Wilko Johnson, the guitarist with British blues-rock band Dr. Feelgood who had an unexpected career renaissance after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, has died
7:46AM ( 1 hour ago )
Official: Organized crime likely behind Celtic gold heist
A senior official in southern Germany says that organized crime groups were likely behind the theft of a huge horde of ancient gold coins stolen from a museum this week
6:46AM ( 2 hours ago )
Colorado shooting suspect changed name as teenager in Texas
Public records show that the suspect in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado gay nightclub changed his name more than six years ago
9:02PM ( 12 hours ago )
AP Entertainment
Dominican sugar imports tied to forced labor rejected by US
The U.S. government says it will detain all imports of sugar and related products made in the Dominican Republic by the country's largest sugar producer amid allegations that it uses forced labor
9:30AM ( 11 minutes ago )
Witness: Walmart employee opened fire in break room; 6 dead
A witness says a Walmart manager opened fire on fellow employees gathered in the break room of a Virginia store
9:29AM ( 13 minutes ago )
UK top court rules against Scottish independence vote plan
The U.K. Supreme Court has ruled that Scotland does not have the power to hold a new referendum on independence without the consent of the British government
9:23AM ( 18 minutes ago )
Power outages in Ukrainian cities, Moldova after new strikes
A punishing new barrage of Russian strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure has caused power outages across large parts of the country as well as neighboring Moldova, adding to damage to Ukraine’s power network and misery for civilians as winter begins
9:20AM ( 22 minutes ago )
South Carolina program aims to boost ranks of Black teachers
A program in Charleston is trying to make the teaching profession more accessible to Black men, who are vastly underrepresented in classrooms in South Carolina and around the United States
9:17AM ( 25 minutes ago )