New details have emerged in the case against Anderson Aldrich, the suspect in the fatal shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub, raising more questions about a possible motive in the attack that left five people dead and 18 injured in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The day before Aldrich was to appear in court for the first time, the 22-year-old’s attorneys submitted a filing stating that Aldrich identifies as non-binary and uses the pronouns he/them.
This is one of the few pieces of information gathered about Aldrich.
Scattered elements of the suspect’s biography — a name change, a 2021 arrest in which his mother accused him of making homemade bomb threats, a family connection to a California lawmaker — emerged. But a lot is still unknown.
Very little has been known about Aldrich online or on social media, and only the suspect’s father has spoken publicly since the Colorado shooting.
Aldrich appeared via video from the El Paso County Jail on Wednesday during a six-minute hearing after being released from the hospital following Saturday’s attack. He was ordered to be held without bail. No formal charges have yet been filed, and the next court hearing is set for December 6.
The suspect spoke while answering the judge’s questions. When asked by the judge if he had seen the video about his constitutional rights in the case, he said his name aloud, “Anderson Aldrich,” and replied yes.
Aldrich was arrested on suspicion of murder and bias-motivated crimes – Colorado’s term for hate crimes – police said, but officials did not say what motivated the shooting.
Legal experts say Aldrich’s gender identity has no bearing on whether hate crime charges can be filed.
A spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s Office for Colorado’s Fourth Judicial Circuit declined to comment on whether Aldrich’s gender identity would disqualify her from any charges in connection with the fatal shooting, saying that “the evidence will drive the appropriate charges.” “
Aldrich’s attorneys requested the arrest warrant be unsealed, but did not respond to further requests for comment.
According to Orange County court records, Aldrich was born on May 20, 2000, in California to Laura Voepel and Aaron Brink. The next year, Brink filed for divorce, and Voepel was granted full custody of their child, with Brink being granted no visitation rights.
In later years, Aldrich moved with his mother to Texas and then to Colorado, at times living with his maternal grandmother. According to Vopel’s Facebook page, he also has a younger brother.
An aide to the legislator told The Times on Monday that Aldrich is the grandson of California legislator Randy Voepel (R-Santi).
The outgoing state representative first aligned herself with the Tea Party movement and criticized later For comments that compare the January 6 riots to firing shots at the US Capitol In “Lexington and Concord” in the Revolutionary War, The aide said he declined to comment further on Monday about his grandson.
Aldrich’s parents have criminal records, court records show. Laura Voepel was found guilty of a lesser charge of criminal mischief in San Antonio and sentenced to five years’ probation, according to court documents.
Aldrich’s father, Brink, was also arrested on drug-related charges and other crimes. Brink was an MMA fighter, according to Colorado Springs Gazette, He appeared in an episode of the reality TV series “Intervention”, according to his IMDb page.
Court records in Bexar County, Texas show that Aldrich formally filed to change his name to Anderson Lee Aldrich six years ago. The request was approved on May 4, 2016.
According to the Associated Press, a petition for where did the name change go Aldrich wanted to shield his future “from any connection to the birth father and his criminal history”. The father has no contact with the minor for many years.
Washington Post reported that Aldrich had endured “a particularly vicious onslaught of online bullying”.
The attorney representing the family in the case did not respond to questions from The Times.
Kristen Brode, an attorney and president of the National Trans Bar Association, said that regardless of Aldrich’s gender identity, “one’s membership in a protected group does not in any way reduce the likelihood that the person who committed the crime was motivated by hate.” Gets inspired.”
“The reality is that it doesn’t matter what this person’s motivation is, the fact is that there are extremists who are speaking from pulpits and broadcast microphones who are inciting this violence and saying, ‘I shed no tears. Bahaunga’ or LGBT people should be tied up and shot in the back of the head,” she said. “Whether that was the motivation for this attack or not, statements like this are beyond dangerous.”
Brink said his ex-wife told him Aldrich changed his name The New York Times reported that Brink was their father and Aldrich died of embarrassment.
But months ago, Aldrich called Brink. The conversation escalates into an argument, with Aldrich threatening to beat up Brink.
Brink, who identifies as a religious and conservative Republican, told the newspaper that when Aldrich was younger he voiced his disapproval of gay people but expressed sympathy for the families of the shooting victims.
Aldrich was arrested in June 2021 in a suburban Colorado Springs neighborhood where he and his mother lived at the time, after Voepel reported that Aldrich had offered him “a homemade bomb, several arms and ammunition”. Was threatened According to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office,
The incident ended in a standoff with deputies and nearby homes evacuated, but officers said they did not find any explosives after Aldrich’s arrest.
This took place at the home of Leslie Bowman, who was renting a room to Aldrich’s mother. Bowman shared video with The Times from her Ring security camera that shows Aldrich — whom she said went after Andy — entering her home.
In the video, Aldrich said: “The police have surrounded that house. I’m standing right here, okay? … I died today.
Voppel replied, “What’s up?”
Aldrich replied, “They don’t give a damn about me anymore.”
In another video Bowman recorded of a Facebook live stream that Bowman said Aldrich posted during the standoff, Aldrich was seen wearing a helmet and body armor.
“That’s your boy,” Aldrich said on the recorded livestream. “If they violate, Ima… blow it to holy hell!”
In the final ring video of the event, Aldrich was seen at Bowman’s house approximately three hours later with his hands in the air and without wearing a helmet or body armor. The sheriff’s office report states that Aldrich was arrested without issue. Charges in the incident were later dismissed.
There is also no public record that police or relatives tried to trigger Colorado’s “red flag” law after the arrest, which could have allowed authorities to confiscate any weapons or ammunition in Aldrich’s possession. was, or could at least temporarily prevent them from buying.
Bowman said that Aldrich’s mother moved out of the room she was renting about two days after the arrest, and has not kept up with either Voppel or Aldrich since. Bowman said that at the time, Aldrich lived with his grandparents about a mile away, but visited his mother frequently. She said the teen was never talkative and that Voepel and Aldrich often watched movies together.
Bowman said, “They came from time to time, sometimes once or twice a week.” She described Aldrich as “very calm”.
She said there was only one other incident in which Aldrich became aggressive, got in her face and slammed the door on her after an altercation between Bowman and Voepel in early 2020. But Bowman said. Aldrich did not become physically violent, and chalked it up to being protective of his mother. Bowman said he did not know whether Aldrich, 20, was in school or working.
Bowman said he finds it hard to believe that Aldrich identifies as non-binary.
“I’ve only known him as one/his. Laura always called him ‘my son,'” Bowman said. “There was nothing else but he/him pronouns and referring to him in the masculine.”
Bowman said he is still concerned that the initial charges against Aldrich were dropped.
“In such a serious event, there should be at least some sort of plea deal, just something, to keep [them] On the radar,” she said.
In the months before the shooting, Aldrich’s mother posted for help on a Facebook group for women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
She asked for recommendations for a “trauma/PTSD therapist” in February, writing that it was for a “21-year-old”, the same age as Aldrich.
About three months later, she asked if someone could refer her kid — who she described as “6’6” tall and hit like a freight train — to a private boxing coach.
“Can’t find a good gym or any serious,” she wrote. The post states that her baby has “made a huge life change and she needs it!”
Times Staff Writers Hannah Wiley and Terry Castleman contributed to this report.