The person suspected of killing five and wounding 18 after opening fire in a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs is nonbinary, their defense attorney wrote in court filings Tuesday.
Joseph Archambault and Michael Bowman, the state public defenders for suspect Anderson Lee Aldrich, filed a slew of motions Tuesday and included a footnote about Aldrich’s identity.
“Anderson Aldrich is nonbinary,” the footnote states. “They use they/them pronouns, and for the purposes of all formal filings, will be addressed as Mx. Aldrich.”
Aldrich is being held on suspicion of murder and bias-motivated crimes in connection to the shooting at Club Q late Saturday night.
Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, could be seen with injuries visible on their face and head in a brief video appearance from jail. Aldrich appeared to need prompting by defense attorneys and offered a slurred response when asked to state their name by El Paso County Court Judge Charlotte Ankeny.
The suspect 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 Aldrich 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.
Defense attorneys said late Tuesday that the suspect is nonbinary and in court filings referred to the suspect as “Mx. Aldrich.” The attorneys’ footnotes assert that Aldrich is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns.
Prosecutor Michael Allen repeatedly referred to the suspect as “he” during a press briefing after the hearing and said the suspect’s gender status would not change anything about the case in his opinion. Allen said Aldrich was “physically competent” to stand charges.
Ankeny set the next hearing for Dec. 6.
Of 17 people injured by gunshots in the attack, 11 remained hospitalized late Wednesday, officials said.
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 successfully petitioned a Texas court for a name change, court records show. A petition for the name change was submitted on Brink’s behalf by his legal guardians at the time.
“Minor wishes to protect himself and his future from any connections to birth father and his criminal history. Father has had no contact with minor for several years,” said the petition filed in Bexar County, Texas.
The suspect’s father, Aaron Brink, 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 Aaron Brink from contacting the suspect or Voepel except through an attorney, but was later modified to allow monitored visits with the child.
Source: Bee News Daily, AP News and Fox News contributed to the article.
Featured Photo: A mugshot of Colorado Springs shooting suspect Anderson Aldrich. (Colorado Springs Police Department)