Suspect in fatal shooting at Club Q gay nightclub claims to identify as non-binary

DENVER — The suspect in the deadly massacre at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is non-binary, defense attorneys say, raising questions about whether the attack was motivated by anti-LGBTQ bias.

The disclosure appeared in a court document filed Tuesday by attorneys for Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, who faces murder and hate crime charges stemming from Saturday night’s shooting at Club Q that left five people dead. and 18 wounded.

“Anderson Aldrich is non-binary. They use the pronouns them/them, and for the purposes of all formal fillings, will be addressed as Mx. Aldrich,” the attorneys said in a footnote to the filing.

The suspect was released from hospital on Tuesday after being treated for injuries sustained while being overpowered by bar patrons. The suspect appeared by video Wednesday from jail in a deliberation hearing in El Paso County Court in Colorado Springs.

Video of the hearing showed the defendant slumped in a chair, flanked by two public defenders, with bruises visible on his face. Formal charges are expected at the next hearing scheduled for December 6, and until then the suspect is being held without bond.

District Attorney Michael Allen of the Fourth Judicial District said the suspect’s non-binary status would have “no impact on how I prosecute this case.”

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“For us, its legal definition in this proceeding is the defendant,” Mr. Allen said at a press briefing after the hearing.

Those killed in the attack were bartenders Daniel Davis Aston, 28, and Derrick Rump, 38, and patrons Raymond Green Vance, 22, Ashley Paugh, 35, and Kelly Loving, 40.

Colorado Springs officials and community leaders held a ceremony Wednesday honoring the victims and displaying the 14-by-25-foot “sacred cloth” Pride Flag in front of City Hall.

The charges are preliminary and informal, but prosecutors’ decision to raise the possibility of hate crimes has fueled widespread speculation that the suspect was motivated by anti-LGBTQ bias, prompting Democrats to blame conservative rhetoric.

“This attack also comes amid a rise in violent rhetoric and threats against LGBTQI+ people across the country,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during the briefing. of Tuesday. “While we don’t yet know for certain the motive for this attack, hate has no place in this country.”

Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg tweeted: ‘If you’re a politician or media personality making the LGBTQ community hated and feared – not because any of us have ever hurt you , but because you find it useful – so dare not act. surprised when this kind of violence follows.

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After Rep. Lauren Boebert, Republican of Colorado, Express Outraged by the attack, Mr Buttigieg’s husband, Chasten Buttigieg, tweeted: ‘You encourage this kind of hate.’

Conservatives responded on Wednesday by accusing those on the left of jumping to conclusions to fuel the anti-right narrative.

“The ‘Republicans Are Violent’ crowd fell silent after finding out the Colorado shooter is non-binary and identifies with them/them pronouns,” actor Kevin Sorbo tweeted.

Christopher Rufo, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, accused the New York Times of publishing a “deranged editorial claiming that my drag queen story hour reporting was somehow responsible for the recent shooting in Colorado. “.

“Now we find out that the shooter identifies as ‘non-binary’ and uses ‘they/them’ pronouns,” Mr Rufo tweeted. “The NYT used tragedy to wrongfully smear me.”

CNN political commentator Errol Davis raised the possibility that the defense is seeking to counter the hate crime charges.

“Looks like they’re trying to mount a defense against a hate crimes charge. That’s the least of his problems legally, but it seems like they’re trying to create some kind of sympathy or at least confusion,” Davis said.

The suspect appears to have a history of violent threats. Video obtained by the Colorado Springs Gazette shows a suspected suspect surrendering to El Paso County Sheriff’s Deputies last year after the person’s mother called to report a bomb threat.

“The reporting party said her son was threatening to harm her with a pipe bomb, multiple weapons and ammunition,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release dated June 18, 2021, which named the individual as Anderson Lee Aldrich.

The district attorney’s office declined to press charges. The suspect then called the newspaper asking to update the initial story or remove it from the website, the Gazette reported.

In another incident, the suspect held his grandparents at gunpoint last year after learning they planned to sell their home in Colorado Springs, where the suspect lived, according to KKTV-TV, citing a three-page affidavit.

The document says the suspect told the grandmother he wanted to “go out on fire” by carrying out a mass shooting and bombardment. It is not known what happened to the case.

Mr. Allen declined to answer questions about previous incidents.

“I can’t speak specifically to what you’re asking because of the seal laws in the state of Colorado,” Allen said.

The suspect was known as Nicholas Franklin Brink until 2016, when the suspect asked the court to change his name, citing the father’s extensive criminal history, according to a petition filed in Bexar County, Texas. .

“The minor wishes to protect himself and his future from any connection with his biological father and his criminal history. The father has had no contact with the minor for several years,” the petition states.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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