The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub was ordered held without bail in an initial court appearance Wednesday.
Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, appeared by video from jail and could be seen slumped over in a chair with injuries visible on their face and head. Aldrich appeared to need prompting by defense attorneys when asked to state their name by El Paso County Court Judge Charlotte Ankeny.
The weekend assault took place at a nightclub known as a sanctuary for the LGBTQ community in this mostly conservative city of about 480,000 about 70 miles south of Denver.
Authorities said Aldrich, whose attorneys say identifies as non-binary and uses they/them pronouns, used a long rifle in the attack that was halted by two club patrons including Richard Fierro, who told reporters that he took a handgun from Aldrich, hit them with it and pinned them down with help from another person until police arrived.
The victims were Raymond Green Vance, 22; Ashley Paugh, 35; Daniel Aston, 28; Kelly Loving, 40; and Derrick Rump, 38.
Aldrich was beaten into submission by patrons during Saturday night’s shooting at Club Q and released from the hospital Tuesday. The motive in the shooting was still under investigation, but authorities said he faces possible murder and hate crime charges.
Hate crime charges would require proving that the shooter was motivated by bias, 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’s name was changed more than six years ago as a teenager, after filing a legal petition in Texas seeking to “protect himself” from a father with a criminal history including domestic violence against Aldrich’s mother.
Aldrich 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 suspect’s father is a mixed martial arts fighter and pornography performer with an extensive criminal history, including convictions for battery against the alleged shooter’s mother, Laura Voepel, both before and after the suspect was born, state and federal court records show. A 2002 misdemeanor battery conviction in California resulted in a protective order that initially barred the father, Aaron F. Brink, from contacting the suspect or Voepel except through an attorney, but was later modified to allow monitored visits with the child.
AP Photo/David ZalubowskiPhotographs of the victims of a mass shooting at a gay nightclub stand a part of a makeshift memorial near the club Wednesday in Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)