The person accused of massacring five people in a Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub appeared dazed and bloodied at their first court appearance Wednesday — where they were ordered held without bond.
Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22 — who identifies as nonbinary and uses the pronouns they/them – sported a beard and appeared cuffed and slouched in a chair during the video hearing, with their head slumped and resting on their shoulder as if asleep.
“Could the defendant please state his name?” Judge Charlotte Ankeny asked.
“Anderson Aldrich,” they replied weakly.
Aldrich, who appeared bloodied and bruised, sat nearly motionless during the five-minute hearing and only spoke when prompted by two public defenders at their side in El Paso County Jail.
“Anderson Aldrich did you watch the video concerning your constitutional rights in this case?” the judge asked.
“Yes,” Aldrich replied in a whisper after a lengthy pause.
“Do you have any questions about those rights?” the judge said.
Aldrich didn’t respond for several seconds before replying “No.”
The judge ordered Aldrich held without bond until their next court appearance on Dec. 6.
Aldrich will likely be slapped with murder and hate-crime charges but formal charges have yet to be filed and court records about his arrest have been sealed at the request of prosecutors. Defense attorneys requested to see the arrest records.
The suspect is accused of marching into Club Q just before midnight Saturday and spraying gunfire, killing five and wounding more than a dozen others. The alleged shooter’s rampage ended when they were tackled by two people in the club, who disarmed them and held them until cops arrived.
Authorities haven’t answered questions about a potential motive, but a hate-crime charge would mean prosecutors believe they can prove as a motive, potentially based on sexual or gender identities of the victims.
In a series of court filings on Tuesday, the public defender representing Aldrich said they are non-binary.
“They use they/them pronouns, and for the purposes of all formal filings, will be addressed as Mx. Aldrich,” a footnote in the filings said.
The note didn’t elaborate and it wasn’t clear when the suspect began to identify as non-binary.
Aldrich had changed their name from Nicholas F. Brink in 2016, according to a petition filed on their behalf in Texas court. The change, requested by Aldrich’s grandparents, came just before their 16th birthday to “protect himself” from a father with a lengthy rap sheet, the petition stated.
“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 dad Aaron Brink is a former MMA fighter and porn actor who had been convictions for battery against Aldrich’s mom Laura Voepel.
Prior to the name change came after Aldrich had been bullied online, with photos and taunts about appearing to target then-Brink, according to the Washington Post.
Aldrich was arrested last year for allegedly making a bomb threat and threatening their mom. The Associated Press obtained surveillance footage showing Aldrich at their mother’s door and saying “This is where I stand. Today I die.”
No explosives were found, but gun control advocates are questioning why Aldrich’s guns weren’t seized under the state’s “red flag” gun laws.
With Post wires