Defense: Colorado gay club shooting suspect is nonbinary

Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP) – The alleged gunman facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people A Colorado Springs gay nightclub is non-binary, the suspect’s defense team says in court filings.

In several standard motions filed Tuesday on behalf of Anderson Lee Aldrich, public defenders called the suspect “Mx. Aldrich,” footnotes note that Aldrich, 22, is nonbinary and uses the pronouns he/she. The motions deal with issues such as the unsealing of documents and the gathering of evidence, Aldrich is not identified and has no detailed information about him.

Aldrich, who was beaten into submission by supporters during Saturday night’s shooting at Club Q, was scheduled to make his first court appearance Wednesday via video from jail. A motive for the shooting was still under investigation, but authorities said Aldrich faces possible murder and hate crime charges.

Hate crime charges require proving that the gunman was motivated by prejudice, 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, chief trial deputy for the state public defender’s office. Lawyers from the office do not comment on the case to the media.

It was also revealed Tuesday that Aldrich changed his name as a teenager six years ago, after filing a legal petition against Aldrich’s mother in Texas seeking to “protect himself” from a father with a criminal history, including domestic violence.

Aldrich, who faces murder and hate crime charges, was known as Nicholas Franklin Brink until 2016. Weeks before turning 16, Aldrich petitioned a Texas court for a name change, court records show. The petition for the name change was submitted on behalf of Brink by his grandparents, who were his legal guardians at the time.

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

The suspect’s father is a mixed martial arts fighter and pornography performer with an extensive criminal history, including convictions for battery against the suspected shooter’s mother, Laura Voppel, both before and after the suspect’s birth, state and federal court records show. A 2002 misdemeanor battery conviction in California resulted in a protective order that initially protected the father, Aaron F. Brinken barred anyone from contacting the suspect or Voppel except with an attorney, but later modified that to allow supervised visitation with the child.

The father was also sentenced to 2 1/2 years in custody for importing marijuana and violating his terms by testing positive for illegal steroids in a supervised release, according to public records. Brink could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Aldrich’s request to change the name comes months after Aldrich was apparently targeted by online bullying. A June 2015 website post that attacked a teenager named Nick Brink suggests he may have been bullied in high school. The post included photos similar to those of the shooting suspects and mocked Brink’s weight, lack of money, and interest in Chinese cartoons.

Additionally, a YouTube account was opened in Brink’s name that featured an animation titled “Asian Homosexual Gets Molested”.

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

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Aldrich was confronted and beaten 17 other people were injured by gunshots by bar patrons during the attack. Online court records show Aldrich faces five counts of murder and five counts of committing a crime motivated by prejudice, causing bodily injury.

Aldrich was released from the hospital and booked into the El Paso County Jail, police said.

Aldrich was arrested last year after his mother reported that her child had threatened her with homemade bombs and other weapons. Ring doorbell video obtained by The Associated Press shows Aldrich arriving at his mother’s front door with a large black bag on the day of the 2021 bomb threat, telling her the police are nearby and adding, “This is where I stand. Today I am dying. “

Authorities said at the time that no explosives were found, but gun-control advocates have questioned why police didn’t use Colorado’s “red flag” law to seize the weapons Aldrich’s mother had with her child.

The attack took place over the weekend at a night club known as a sanctuary for the LGBTQ community in this largely conservative city of about 480,000, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) south of Denver.

Long time Club Q patron One who was shot in the back and thigh said the club’s reputation made him 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 underscores 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 take out a sick person.

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Court documents relating to Aldrich’s arrest were sealed at the request of prosecutors.

Local and federal authorities have declined to answer questions about why hate crime charges are being considered. District Attorney Michael Allen noted that murder charges would carry the stiffest penalty — life in prison — while first-degree crimes are eligible for probation. He also said it is important to show the community that bias-motivated crimes will not be tolerated.

The attack was stopped by two club patrons, including Richard Fierro, who told reporters that he took a handgun from Aldrich, beat him and pinned him down with the help of another man.

victims Raymond Green Vance, 22, was a Colorado Springs native who was saving up to get his own apartment; Ashley Pau, 35, a mother who helped find homes for foster children; Daniel Aston, 28, who worked as a bartender and entertainer at the club; 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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Baden is a reporting corps member for the Associated Press/America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on classified issues.

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Associated Press reporters Bernard Condon in New York, Colleen Slavin in Denver, Jack Bleiberg in Dallas, Amy Forlitti in Minneapolis, Matthew Brown in Billings, Montana, Jill Bleed in Little Rock, Arkansas, Stephanie Dazio in Los Angeles and news reporter Rhonda Schaffner in New York contributed.

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