Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, could be seen briefly on video this Wednesday in his appearance before the El Paso County (Colorado) judge. The wounds on his face and head were more than visible, after Richard Fierro, one of the clients of the Colorado Springs Q Club, disarmed, beat and immobilized him, a maneuver that prevented him from "only" killing five people and leaving others behind. 17 wounds.
Judge Charlotte Ankeny ordered jail without bail on preliminary charges of murder and hate sexual orientation. The club she walked into with her AR-15 rifle and pistol is a famous establishment as a haven for the LGBTQ community. In that appearance from jail, the first after having been hospitalized until Tuesday, since early Sunday morning, Aldrich was slumped in a chair and needed the help of his lawyers to support himself.
There are seemingly indisputable things. The alleged gunman was arrested in the middle of the job. Many witnesses saw him commit his crime. So it seems unquestionable that he wielded the semi-automatic rifle. Another thing is to prove hate crimes, in which it has to be proven that the attack was motivated by prejudice towards its victims due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
When the judge asked his name, the detainee offered a confused answer. His defense argues, as a legal battlehorse against hate crimes, that the suspect is "non-binary" (not fit into traditional genders) and in the documentation presented to the court he refers to him as "Mx. Aldrich”. In his clarifications, the lawyers pointed out that the defendant uses the third person plural pronouns, they/them, to refer to himself.
At a press conference, prosecutor Michael Allen alluded to the defendant with a "he". He argued to the public prosecutor that "gender status", in his opinion, will not change anything about the case and its criminal classification. He also insisted that Alrich was "physically competent" to receive the charges.
Behind Aldrich's identity lies a complex and tormented family history. Until the age of fifteen, he was known as Nicholas Franklin Brink. But in 2016, just before he turned 16, a Texas judge granted his petition to change his name to protect himself from a father with a criminal record, including domestic violence against his mother. From that petition, raised on his behalf by his then guardians, he emerged renamed Anderson Lee Aldrich.
“The minor wishes to protect himself and his future from any connection to his biological father and his criminal history. The father has not had contact with his son for years, ”says the petition, recovered by AP, which was filed in Bexar County, Texas.
The name change request came after Aldrich was apparently the target of an online harassment campaign. A June 2015 website post attacks a teenager named Nick Brink and suggests that he was bullied in high school. Photos of someone similar to the detainee ridiculed for his excess weight, lack of money and his interest in Chinese comics were included. In addition, a YouTube account, opened in Brink's name, included an animated title that reads "Asian Homosexual Abused."
Aaron Brink, the father, made a career as a martial arts fighter and an actor in pornographic films. His record includes convictions for attacks on his wife, Laura Voepel, before and after the suspect was born. A 2002 California misdemeanor conviction resulted in the initial issuance of a protective order that prohibited Brink from contacting his son or Voepel, except through attorneys. This order was later modified and visits to the minor were allowed.
Speaking to a CBS affiliate in San Diego, Aaron Brink said he was shocked by the alleged attack by his son. What surprised him the most is that "they were in a gay bar." Some acquaintances explained that Brink was proud that his son was not homosexual. The father said he hadn't had much contact with the now-detainee throughout his life, but that he taught him to fight, “praising” violent behavior at an early age.
But he qualified that he was despondent for allowing Aldrich to sink. “There are no excuses to go kill people. If you kill people, something is wrong, it's not the answer,” he said.
Randy Voepel, a maternal-line grandfather, is an outspoken Republican lawmaker in the California House of Representatives. Voepel has maintained mixed positions in the votes on laws on the LGBTQ community. Voepel compared the coup attempt to assault the Capitol in January 2021 to the War of Independence and stressed that it was "the first action against tyranny." Faced with criticism, he replied that "I did not condone or support violence."
Aldrich was arrested in 2021 due to his mother's complaint. He assured the police that her son had a pipe bomb and had threatened to blow it up. They evacuated at least a dozen houses in the area, but in the end it turned out that the alleged explosive was false. There were no charges. However, now there have been numerous complaints because that complaint did not trigger an alert and the red flag law was applied to seize his or her weapons.