The suspect accused of killing five people and wounding as many as 25 others at the Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs, has been charged with hate crimes and murder.
Investigators have revealed that Anderson Lee Aldrich entered Club Q, considered a safe space for the LGBTQ community in what is essentially a conservative city, and opened fire during a drag queen’s birthday celebration. The killing, which began shortly before midnight, only stopped when club patrons wrestled the shooter into submission.
The mass shooting occurred on the eve of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, on Saturday Nov. 19.
Aldrich, 22, appeared to be badly battered and covered in bruises in new mugshots released on Wednesday — after appearing visibly dazed in court. They had been held on hate crimes charges but prosecutors had doubted there would be enough evidence to show it was a bias-motivated crime. Aldrich is facing 305 charges.
According to Associated Press and defense court filings, Aldrich identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns.
The New York Post reported that Aldrich had changed their name from Nicholas F. Brink in 2016, according to a petition filed on their behalf in Texas. The change was requested by Aldrich’s grandparents to “protect himself” from a criminal father.
“Minor wishes to protect himself and his future from any connections to birth father and his criminal history,” the petition said. “Father has had no contact with minor for several years.”
Aldrich’s father, Aaron Brink, is a former MMA fighter and porn actor who had been convicted for battery against Aldrich’s mom, Laura Voepel.
Prior to the name change, Aldrich had been bullied online.
The deceased were identified as Derrick Rump, Ashley Paugh, Kelly Loving, Raymond Green Vance and Daniel Aston as reported by CBS News. The injuries were a combination of both gunshot wounds and injuries obtained while fleeing.
Army Veteran Richard M. Fierro subdued the gunman before he could kill anyone else, fleeing towards danger instead of away from it. Utilizing his army training, Fierro knocked Aldrich to the floor causing him to lose his rifle and then grabbed the pistol from his hand and used it to beat him unconscious with the enlisted aide of other patrons including an as of yet unidentified drag queen.
In the wake of the tragedy, incoming HRC president Kelley Robinson released the following statement on November 20:
“We are absolutely heartbroken by last night’s deadly shooting at an LGBTQ+ club in Colorado Springs. We know anti-LGBTQ+ hate is on the rise and gun violence impacts our community at devastating rates. We are also observing Transgender Day of Remembrance today and over the last 10 years two-thirds of the more than 300 fatalities we’ve tracked involved gun violence. We must rise against hate in the strongest possible terms, we must stand together in solidarity and love with our LGBTQ+ family in Colorado Springs and demand an end to this epidemic of gun violence. From Pulse to Colorado Springs to so many other lives stolen from us— this has occurred for far too long. HRC mourns the lives taken at Club Q last night and extends our deepest strength, love and condolences to the loved ones impacted.”
The organization has highlighted the increase of anti-LGBTQ violence taking place across the country, which included the following:
- Nearly 1 in 5 of any type of hate crime is now motivated by anti-LGBTQ+ bias and reports of violence and intimidation against LGBTQ+ people have been making news across the country
- In the last 10 years HRC has recorded 300 violent deaths of transgender and gender non-confirming people with 32 murders so far accounted for this year. 2021 was the deadliest year on record with 57 lives lost. Overwhelmingly the victims were primarily black, under 35 and killed with a firearm. Read the full report from HRC here which includes the names of those lost this year.
- Legislators in state houses across the country introduced 344 anti-LGBTQ+ bills this session, and 25 of them passed. These bills and laws attack the LGBTQ+ community, particularly transgender and non-binary young people and their families, preventing them from accessing age-appropriate medical care, playing sports with their friends, or even talking about who they are in school.
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