Colorado gay club shooting suspect identifies as non-binary, lawyers say | American news

The defense team of a suspect facing possible hate crime charges for shooting five people to death at a Colorado gay club have said they describe it as non-binary.

Court documents filed on behalf of Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, showed public defenders referring to the suspect as Mx Aldrich, pointing out that they are non-binary and use their pronouns.

Aldrich was taken into custody and treated for injuries after five people were killed and at least 25 others injured at Club Q, an “adult-oriented gay and lesbian nightclub” in Colorado Springs, on the night of Nov. 19. The suspect was beaten into submission by visitors to the nightclub.

They were scheduled to appear in court for the first time via video link from El Paso County Jail on Wednesday.

At a press conference, officers said a “long gun” had been used and shooting began as soon as the suspect entered the venue. The motive is still under investigation, but authorities say Aldrich may face charges of murder and hate crimes.

The charges are currently preliminary and prosecutors have not yet filed formal charges. For hate crime allegations, it must be proven that the accused was motivated by bias towards the actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of the victims.

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People leave flowers and notes for victims of the shooting

Aldrich was known as Nicholas Franklin Brink until 2016, when weeks before their 16th birthday, court records show they petitioned for a name change.

The petition, in a Texas court, was filed on Aldrich’s behalf by their grandparents, who were their legal guardians at the time.

Club Q can be seen hours after a gunman opened fire at the LGBTQ nightclub in a deadly attack in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA on Nov. 20, 2022 in a still frame video.  ABC Affiliate KMGH via REUTERS NO RESALE.  NO ARCHIVES.  MANDATORY CREDIT
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Club Q hours after five were killed and others injured after the deadly attack

Aldrich filed the petition after trying to “protect himself” from a father with a criminal past, including domestic violence against their mother, Laura Voepel.

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The Washington Post first reported news of Aldrich’s name change, adding that they were victims of online bullying at the age of 15.

The suspect was first arrested last year after their mother, Ms. Voepel, reported possession of her child and threatened her with a homemade bomb and other weapons.

Deputy Chief Adrian Vasquez of the Colorado Springs Police Department
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Deputy Chief Adrian Vasquez said “heroic people” stopped the suspect

Doorbell video obtained by The Associated Press shows Aldrich arriving at their mother’s front door with a large black bag, telling her the police were near, adding, “Here I stand. Today I die. “

At the time, authorities said no explosives had been found.

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