Colorado shooting suspect changed name as teenager in Texas

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — The suspect in the fatal shooting of five people in a Colorado gay nightclub changed his name more than six years ago as a teenager after filing a legal petition in Texas saying he wanted to “protect himself” from a father with a criminal record, including domestic violence against the mother of the suspect.

Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, who faces murder and hate crime charges, was known as Nicholas Franklin Brink until 2016. Weeks before his 16th birthday, he petitioned a Texas court to change his name, court records show. A petition for the name change was filed on Brink’s behalf by his grandparents, who were his legal guardians at the time.

“Minor wants to protect himself and his future from any connections to biological father and his criminal history. Father has not had contact with the minor for years,” the petition filed in Bexar County, Texas, reads.

The suspect’s father is a mixed martial arts fighter and porn performer with an extensive criminal history, including assault convictions against the alleged shooter’s mother, Laura Voepel, both before and after the suspect’s birth, according to state records. and federal court records. A 2002 felony conviction in California resulted in a protection order that initially prohibited the father, Aaron F. Brink, from contacting the suspect or his mother except through a lawyer, but was later amended to allow supervised visits with the child to make.

The father was also sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for importing marijuana and while under surveillance, he violated his terms by testing positive for illegal steroids, according to public records. Brink could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

His son’s request for a name change came months after Aldrich was apparently the target of online bullying. A June 2015 website post in which a boy named Nick Brink was assaulted suggests he may have been bullied in high school. The post contained pictures similar to those of the shooting suspect and ridiculed Brink for his weight, lack of money and what it said was that he was interested in Chinese cartoons.

In addition, a YouTube account was opened in Brink’s name with an animation titled “Asian Homosexual Being Harassed”.

The motive for Saturday’s Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs was still under investigation, but the details emerging about the suspect indicate a turbulent upbringing. The name change and bullying were first reported by The Washington Post.

Aldrich was tackled and beaten by bar patrons during the attack in which 17 other people suffered gunshot wounds. He faces five counts of murder and five counts of committing a bias-motivated crime resulting in bodily harm, online court records showed.

Aldrich was released from the hospital and was being held at the El Paso County Jail, police said. He will appear in court for the first time on Wednesday via a video from prison.

He was arrested last year after his mother reported threatening her with a homemade bomb and other weapons. Ring doorbell video obtained by The Associated Press shows Aldrich arriving at his mother’s front door with a large black bag on the day of the 2021 bomb threat, telling her the police were nearby and adding, “Here I am. Today I die.”

Authorities at the time said no explosives were found, but gun control advocates have questioned why police didn’t use Colorado’s “red flag” laws to seize the guns his mother says he had.

The attack took place at a nightclub known as a haven for the LGBTQ community in this mostly conservative city of about 480,000, about 70 miles south of Denver.

An old Club Q patron who was shot in the back and thigh said the club’s reputation made it a target. In a video statement from UC Health Memorial Hospital, Ed Sanders said he was contemplating what he would do in the event of a mass shooting following the 2016 massacre of 49 people at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

“I think this incident underscores the need to love LGBT people,” says Sanders, 63. “I want to be resilient. I am a survivor. I will not let some sick person take me out.”

Hate crime charges would have to prove that the shooter was motivated by bias, such as against the actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of the victims. The charges against Aldrich are preliminary and prosecutors have not yet filed formal charges.

Court documents detailing Aldrich’s arrest have been sealed at the request of prosecutors. He is represented by Joseph Archambault, a senior prosecutor at the state attorney’s office. Lawyers at the firm do not comment on matters to the media.

Local and federal authorities have declined to answer questions about why hate crime charges were being considered. District Attorney Michael Allen noted that the charges of murder carry the most severe penalty – life in prison – while felonies of bias are eligible for probation. He also said it was important to show the community that bias-motivated crimes will not be tolerated.

The attack was stopped by two clubbers, including Richard Fierro, who told reporters that he took a gun from Aldrich, hit him with it, and pinned him down with help from another person.

Fierro, a former army major who now owns a local brewery, said he was celebrating a birthday with relatives when the suspect “came in shooting.” Fierro said he ran over to the suspect – who was wearing some sort of body armor and is described in prison records as 260 pounds (118 kilograms) and 6-foot-4 (193 centimeters) – and pulled him down before beating him severely until the police arrived.

His daughter’s boyfriend was among the victims.

“There are five people I couldn’t help, and one of them was related to me,” he said.

The other patron who stepped in was Thomas James, a naval information systems technician stationed in Colorado Springs, according to a biography released by the Navy. A Navy spokesman said Tuesday that James was recovering in stable condition from unspecified injuries.

Fierro said a third person also helped and kicked the suspect in the head.

The victims were Raymond Green Vance, 22, a Colorado Springs resident who was saving money to get his own apartment; Ashley Paugh, 35, a mother who helped find homes for foster children; Daniel Aston, 28, who had worked at the club as a bartender and entertainer; Kelly Loving, 40, whose sister described her as “caring and sweet”; and Derrick Rump, 38, another club bartender known for his humor.

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Bedayn is a member of the Corps of The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercover issues.

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Associated Press reporters Bernard Condon in New York, Colleen Slevin in Denver, Jake Bleiberg in Dallas, Amy Forliti in Minneapolis, Matthew Brown in Billings, Montana, Jill Bleed in Little Rock, Arkansas, Stefanie Dazio in Los Angeles, and news researcher Rhonda Shafner of New York contributed.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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