Defense: Colorado gay club shooting suspect is non-binary

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — The alleged gunman faces possible hate crime charges in the deadly shooting of five people A suspect at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs was non-binary, his defense team said in court documents.

In several standard motions filed Tuesday on behalf of Anderson Lee Aldrich, the public defender referred to the suspect as “Mx. Aldrich,” noting in a footnote that Aldrich, 22, Odd is not binary gendered and uses their/their pronouns. The motions, which deal with issues such as unsealing documents and evidence collection, rather than Aldridge’s identity, were not elaborated.

Aldridge, beaten into submission by patron Shot Saturday night at Club Q, is scheduled to make his first court appearance Wednesday via prison video. The motive for the shooting is still under investigation, but authorities said Aldridge could face murder and hate crime charges.

Hate crime charges require proof that the shooter was motivated by prejudice, such as against the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The charges against Aldridge are preliminary and prosecutors have yet to file formal charges. Aldridge is being represented by Joseph Archambo, chief trial representative for the state public defender’s office. Lawyers for the office do not comment to the media.

It was also revealed on Tuesday that Aldridge’s name was changed more than six years ago when he was a teenager when he filed a legal petition in Texas to try to “protect himself” from his father. Criminal record, including domestic violence against Aldridge’s mother.

Aldridge was known as Nicholas Franklin Brink until 2016. Weeks before turning 16, Aldridge filed in a Texas state court to change his name, court records show. The name change was filed on behalf of Brinker by their grandparents, who were their legal guardians at the time.

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

State and federal court records show the suspect’s father, a mixed martial arts fighter and pornographic performer, had an extensive criminal history, including beating the alleged shooter’s mother, Laura Voepel, around the time of the suspect’s birth . A 2002 misdemeanor battery conviction in California led to a protective order that initially prohibited father Aaron F. Brink from contacting the suspect or Voepel except through an attorney, but was later amended to Surveillance visitation of children is permitted.

The father was also serving a 2 1/2-year sentence for importing marijuana and had violated his conditions by testing positive for illegal steroids while on supervised release, according to public records. Brink could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Aldridge’s request for a name change comes months after he apparently became the target of cyberbullying. A June 2015 website post attacking a teen named Nick Brink suggested they may have been bullied in high school. The post contained similar photos of the shooting suspects and mocked Brinker for their weight, lack of money and alleged interest in Chinese cartoons.

Additionally, a YouTube account was set up in Brink’s name, which included an animation titled “Asian Gays Are Harassed.”

The Washington Post first reported the name change and the bullying.

Court documents listing Aldridge’s arrest were sealed at the request of prosecutors. Aldridge was being held in the El Paso County Jail after being released from the hospital, police said.

More on the Colorado Springs shooting

Local and federal authorities declined to answer questions about why hate crime charges were being considered. District Attorney Michael Allen noted that a murder charge carries the harshest penalty — life in prison — while a bias crime is eligible for probation. He also said it was important to show the community that crime based on prejudice would not be tolerated.

Aldridge was arrested last year after their mother reported her children threatened her with homemade bombs and other weapons. On the day of the 2021 bomb threat, Aldridge arrived at their mother’s front door with a large black bag, telling her the police were nearby, according to video of the doorbell ringing obtained by The Associated Press, adding: “This That’s where I stand. Today I die.”

Authorities at the time said no explosives were found, but gun control advocates questioned why police didn’t use Colorado’s “red flag” law to confiscate a weapon that Aldridge’s mother said her child possessed.

The weekend attack took place at a nightclub in the mostly conservative city of about 480,000 people about 70 miles (110 kilometers) south of Denver, which has been billed as a sanctuary for the LGBTQ community.

Longtime patron of Club Q The man who was shot in the back and thigh said the club’s reputation made it a target. In a video statement released by UC Health Memorial Hospital, Ed Saunders said he considered what he would do in a mass shooting following the 2016 massacre of 49 people at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

“I think this incident highlights 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 a patient.”

Two club patrons, including Richard Fierro, who prevented the attack, told reporters that he took a pistol from Aldridge, hit them with it, and shot them with the help of another. Overwhelmed until the police arrived.

victim Raymond Green Vance, 22, a Colorado Springs native who is saving to buy his own apartment; Ashley Paugh, 35, a mother who helps foster children find homes; Daniel Aston, 28, worked as a bartender and entertainer at clubs; Kelly Loving, 40, who her sister described as “thoughtful and caring”; Derrick Rump is another club bartender known for his wit.


Bedayn is a member of the Associated Press/American State House Journalism Initiative.US report is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to cover undisclosed issues.


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

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