Glimpses of the hectic life of Club Q mass shooting suspect

New details have emerged in the case against Anderson Aldrich, a suspect in the fatal shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub, that have raised further questions about the possible motives for the attack, which 5 were killed and 18 wounded in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The day before Aldrich was due to appear in court for the first time, the 22-year-old’s lawyers filed a lawsuit explaining that Aldrich identifies as non-binary and uses the pronouns they/they.

This information is among the few materials collected about Aldrich.

Scattered elements of the suspect’s biography – name change, 2021 arrest in which their mother accused them of threatening her with a pipe bomb, a family connection to a California lawmaker. But much is still unknown.

Little about Aldrich has surfaced online or on social media, with only the suspect’s estranged father speaking publicly following the Colorado shooting.

Aldrich appeared on video Wednesday from the El Paso County Jail during a six-minute hearing after he was released from the hospital following Saturday’s attack. They were ordered to be held without bail. No formal charges have yet been filed, and the next court hearing is scheduled for December. 6.

The suspect only spoke while answering the judge’s questions. They called their name out loud “Anderson Aldrich” and answered “yes” when the judge asked if they had watched a video about their constitutional rights in the case.

Aldrich was arrested on suspicion of murder and bias crimes – Colorado’s term for hate crimes – police said, but officials have not determined what prompted the shooting. Legal experts say Aldrich’s gender identity has nothing to do with whether hate crime charges can be filed.

A spokesman for the District Attorney’s Office for Colorado’s 4th Judicial District declined to comment on whether Aldrich’s gender identity would disqualify them from any charges in connection with the fatal shooting, and said “the evidence will support appropriate charges.”

Aldrich’s lawyers demanded that the arrest warrant be printed, but did not respond to further requests for comment.

Colorado Springs Police Department commissions photo of Anderson Aldrich

Colorado Springs Police Department commissions photo of Anderson Aldrich

(Colorado Springs Police Department)

According to Orange County court records, Aldrich was born on May 20, 2000 to Laura Vopel and Aaron Brink in California. Brink filed for divorce the following year, and Vopel was granted full custody of their child, with no visitation rights to Brink.

In later years, Aldrich moved with his mother to Texas and then to Colorado, sometimes living with his maternal grandmother. They also have a younger brother, according to the Voepel Facebook page.

Aldrich is the grandson of California Assemblyman Randy Vopel (R-Santee), an aide to the legislator told The Times on Monday. outgoing state representative previously joined the tea party movement and later drew criticism for comments that were reminiscent of Jan. 6 uprising in the US Capitol before the shots at Lexington and Concord in the Revolutionary War. On Monday, he declined to comment further about his grandson, the aide said.

Court records show Aldrich’s parents have criminal records. According to court documents, Laura Vopel was found guilty of a lesser charge of criminal disorderly conduct in San Antonio and sentenced to five years’ probation.

Brink, Aldrich’s father, was also arrested on charges of drug possession and other crimes. According to the publication, Brink was a mixed martial artist. Colorado Springs Gazette. According to his IMDb page, he appeared in an episode of the reality show The Intervention.

Court records in Bexar County, Texas show that Aldrich filed for a legal name change six years ago to Anderson Lee Aldrich. The request was approved on May 4, 2016.

According to the Associated Press, the petition name change said Aldrich wanted to protect his future “from any ties to his biological father and his criminal past. The father had no contact with the minor for several years.”

Washington Post reported that Aldrich endured a “particularly vicious bout of online bullying”.

The lawyer who represented the family in the case did not answer questions from The Times.

Kristen Braud, attorney and chair of the National Bar Association, stated that regardless of Aldrich’s gender identity, “belonging to a protected group does not in any way rule out the possibility that a crime an individual commits is hate-motivated.”

“The reality is that no matter what this person’s motivation is, the fact is that there are extremists who speak from lecterns and broadcast microphones who incite this violence and say things like ‘I wouldn’t shed a tear’ or that LGBT people should be tied up and shot in the back of the head,” she said. “Regardless of whether this is the motive for this attack or not, such statements are more than dangerous.”

Brink said his ex-wife told him that Aldrich name change out of embarrassment that Brink was their father and that Aldrich had died, the New York Times reported. But a few months ago, Aldrich called Brink. The conversation turned into a fight, and Aldrich threatened to beat Brink.

Brink, who identifies as a religious and conservative Republican, told the newspaper that he expressed disapproval of gay people when Aldrich was younger, but expressed sympathy for the families of the victims of the shooting.

Aldrich was arrested in June 2021 in suburban Colorado Springs, where they and their mother were living at the time, after Vopel reported that Aldrich had threatened her with “a pipe bomb, multiple weapons and ammunition.” according to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. The incident ended in a standoff with MPs and the evacuation of nearby houses, but officials said no explosives were found after Aldrich’s arrest.

This happened in the house of Leslie Bowman, who rented a room to Aldrich’s mother. Bowman shared with The Times a video from Ring’s security camera showing Aldrich, who she says is named Andy, enters her house with a suitcase and talks to their mother.

In the video, Aldrich said: “The police have surrounded this house. That’s where I stand, okay? … Today I will die.”

Vopel replied, “What’s going on?”

“Clearly they don’t care about me anymore,” Aldrich replied.

In another video recorded by Bowman from a Facebook live stream, which Bowman said Aldrich posted during the standoff, Aldrich was seen wearing a helmet and body armor.

“That’s your boy,” Aldrich said in a live recording. “If they break through, Ima [sic] damn it, blow it to hell!

In Ring’s latest video of the incident, Aldrich was seen leaving Bowman’s house about three hours later with his hands up and no longer wearing a helmet or body armor. A report from the sheriff’s office states that Aldrich was arrested without issue. However, the charges for the incident were later dropped.

There are also no public records of police or relatives attempting to activate Colorado’s “red flag” law after the arrest, which could have allowed the authorities to seize any weapons or ammunition in Aldrich’s possession, or prevent them from acquiring them, at least temporarily.

Bowman said that Aldrich’s mother moved out of the room she was renting about two days after her arrest, and she has not been in touch with either Vopel or Aldrich since. According to Bowman, at the time, Aldrich lived about a mile from their grandparents, but often visited their mother. She said that the teenager was never talkative and that Vopel and Aldrich often watched movies together.

They “came in from time to time, sometimes once or twice a week,” Bowman said. She described Aldrich as “pretty quiet”.

She said there was only one incident in which Aldrich got violent, bumped into her and slammed the door on her after an argument between Bowman and Vopel in early 2020. up to the protection of his mother. Bowman said she did not know if Aldrich, then 20, was studying or working.

Bowman said she finds it hard to believe that Aldrich considers himself non-binary.

“I have always known him only as he/him. Laura always only referred to him as her son,” Bowman said. “There was never anything but pronouns he/him and addressing him in the masculine form.”

Bowman said she was still concerned that the original charges against Aldrich had been dropped.

“In such a serious incident, there should be at least some kind of plea deal, just something to keep [them] on the radar,” she said.

A few months before the shooting, Aldrich’s mother posted a Facebook group for women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints asking for help.

In February, she asked for a recommendation for a “trauma/post-traumatic therapist”, writing that it was for a “21-year-old”, the same age as Aldrich at the time.

Nearly three months later, she asked if anyone could refer her child, whom she described as “6ft 6in and hitting like a freight train,” to a private boxing trainer.

“Can’t find a good gym or anyone serious,” she wrote. The post says her baby has “made a huge life change and needs it!”

Times staff writers Hannah Wylie and Terry Castleman contributed to this report.