So much for the “ultra-MAGA” explanations behind the Club Q massacre in Colorado Springs that left five people dead. More accurately, so much for the “ultra-MAGA” assumptions from media figures hoping to exploit the tragedy, because this declaration seems awwwwfuuuulllly convenient in the moment. Perhaps even better put, we have yet another in a long series of reminders how stupid it is to jump to conclusions before even getting a look at evidence.
According to attorneys for Anderson Lee Aldrich, née Nicholas Brink, the suspect in this mass murder identifies as non-binary. In fact, Aldrich’s lawyers want everyone to apply the correct pronouns to their client, according to their court filing:
In new court filing, public defenders for the suspect in the mass shooting at a Colorado gay club that left 5 people dead say that their client is non-binary and that "they use they/them pronouns." The lawyers refer to their client as Mx. Anderson Aldrich. pic.twitter.com/dPaUpiFXKN
— Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs (@NickAtNews) November 23, 2022
Rest assured, we’ll get right on that for Mr. Anderson, and you can tell him that.
Axios has more, while dutifully following the attorneys’ demand:
The public defenders for the suspect in the mass shooting at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub said in a Tuesday night court filing obtained by a New York Times reporter that their client is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns.
The big picture: The suspect, Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, is facing multiple murder and hate crime charges over the shooting at Club Q last weekend that killed five people, per Max D’Onofrio, a city spokesperson.
Is this a put-on? Needless to say, it seems pretty incongruous for someone who claims to be “non-binary” with his own set of pronouns to target an LGBTQ community for a heinous hate crime. That may be what Aldrich’s public defenders want to sell, too. It’s not clear whether and when Aldrich actually adopted his “non-binary” persona. If this is real, then the attorneys could argue around the hate-crime charges — but since Aldrich is accused of mass murder and is going to get life without parole anyway, avoiding the hate-crime tag seems beside the point at the moment. (Colorado ended capital punishment in 2020.)
So color me a bit skeptical on the sudden claim of queerness from someone who just shot up a well-known and popular LGBTQ nightclub. Don’t jump to any conclusions based on legal maneuvering in the opening days of this case. His former neighbor and friend painted a different picture for The Daily Beast:
Anderson Lee Aldrich kept an assault-type rifle and a burner phone in a one-bedroom apartment near the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs where he lived with his mother until a couple of months ago, according to Xavier Kraus, a former neighbor in the same apartment hallway.
Kraus, 23, who said he once considered Aldrich a friend, also told The Daily Beast that the 22-year-old suspect in the mass shooting at the LGBTQ club Club Q that killed five people and injured 18 more on Saturday frequently used the word “f*ggot.” …
“There would be times where he and his mom would get into fights, arguments, because he would be saying hateful things about whoever he was angry with,” Kraus told The Daily Beast. “He said things sometimes that probably should have been alarming to me. He used the term “f*ggot” a lot. Most of the time it came from a place of anger.”
That doesn’t exactly sound like a man who cares a lot about pronouns. This suggests that Aldrich’s attorneys are pulling out all of the cultural stops they have to gin up sympathy for him, which would be pretty grotesque considering the community he targeted.
On the other hand, the more we know about Aldrich/Brink’s background, the easier it becomes to consider the stranger explanations. The Daily Mail followed up on his name change six years ago with even more background on the family, and it just keeps getting weirder. The name change was apparently an attempt to put distance between Aldrich/Brink and his father, who had become both an MMA fighter and a porn actor:
Brink reportedly left Aldrich’s mother when Anderson was a baby, before taking up MMA and porn, under the alias ‘Dick Delaware.’
He also appeared on camera on the reality shows Divorce Court and Intervention in 2009, when his fiancée tried to get him to stop using crystal meth, according to the New York Post.
Brink has 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 the father, Aaron F. Brink, from contacting the suspect or his mother except through an attorney, but was later modified to allow monitored visits with the child.
The father also was sentenced to two and a half years in custody for importation of marijuana and while on supervised release violated his conditions by testing positive for illegal steroids, according to public records.
This suspect had a very screwed-up childhood, no doubt. Don’t forget that his mother also picked up an arson charge along the way, which got pled down to a lesser charge eventually. Aldrich/Brink seemed primed to explode at some point — which again raises the question as to why prosecutors dropped felony charges last year against him for the bomb threat and kidnapping incident in June 2021. A local report suggested that the mother refused to cooperate, but Aldrich/Brink livestreamed the incident on Facebook. Prosecutors could have used that to take him to trial, get him committed for an extensive psychological evaluation, or at the very least used Colorado’s existing red-flag law to take away his weapons and prevent him from legally buying more of them.
Instead, no one did anything — not his family and not prosecutors. Now that Aldrich/Brink has exploded, plenty of media figures want to point fingers at political opponents to distract from the real questions about why existing laws never got applied when those might have saved five lives.
Addendum: CNN is similarly skeptical. Errol Louis and I are pretty much on the same page, especially when it comes to the relative import of the “hate crimes” charge. Ian Miles Cheong flags this for the hypocrisy, however, as does Matt Walsh more generally (via David Strom).
CNN misgenders the Colorado gay club shooter and claims the perpetrator isn’t actually non-binary. How quickly they drop all the pretense and admit that non-binary gender identities are made up. pic.twitter.com/4etcwWA0ph
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) November 23, 2022
Sorry but if you're on the Left then you have no right to deny the shooter's non-binary identity. You set a precedent here and we will hold you to it. You have to respect his identity. I don't. You do. These are your rules. Now take your medicine and shut up.
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) November 23, 2022