As the 22-year-old arrested in the deadly attack at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ club made his first court appearance Wednesday and was ordered held without bail, pieces of the suspect’s past are slowly emerging, suggesting a volatile upbringing and a fractured family life.
Anderson’s father Lee Aldrich said in an interview Tuesday with CBS affiliate KFMB in San Diego who believed Aldrich had committed suicide several years ago and only learned otherwise this year.
Aaron Brink told the news station that he had mourned the loss of his son and had gone through a crisis.
Brink said his ex-wife told him in 2016 that Aldrich was dead. Aldrich was born Nicholas Franklin Brink before a name change petition was filed in 2016. (In a court filing Tuesday, Aldrich’s defense team referred to the suspect as “Mx. Aldrich,” noting in the notes to footer that his client is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns. No further details were forthcoming, and Aldrich’s defense attorneys could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday).
According to court documents filed in Bexar County, Texas, the name change was requested because Aldrich, who was about to turn 16, “wants to protect himself and his future from any connection to the biological father and his criminal record. The father has not had contact with the minor. for many years.” The presentation was first reported by the washington post.
At the time, Aldrich was living in Texas with his grandparents and legal guardians Pamela and Jonathan Pullen. Neither could be reached for comment Wednesday.
Aldrich’s mother, Laura Voepel, also lived in Texas. Efforts to reach her were also unsuccessful.
Brink, 48, said she only found out Aldrich was still alive after receiving a phone call from her son six months ago. The couple argued.
He told KFMB that Aldrich was “mad at me” and “wants to upset the old man.”
The former MMA fighter who later starred in pornographic films recalled his ex-wife saying Aldrich sought a name change because Brink was associated with the porn industry and also appeared in a 2009 episode of the A&E documentary series “Intervention.”
In the episode, Brink says he is addicted to methamphetamine and is shown using drugs before his family members encourage him to seek treatment. Brink’s troubled childhood is depicted on the show, including his parents’ divorce and his arrest at age 21 for smuggling marijuana into the United States from Mexico. He served three years in federal prison.
Brink said he divorced Aldrich’s mother shortly after her son was born. Neither Voepel nor Aldrich are mentioned in the episode “Intervention”.
Brink’s criminal history also includes convictions for assaulting the suspect’s mother before and after Aldrich’s birth. The Associated Press reported. A 2002 California misdemeanor assault conviction resulted in a protective order that initially prohibited Brink from contacting Voepel and her son except through an attorney, but was later modified to allow monitored visits with Aldrich, according to PA.
Brink told KFMB that he was the one who taught his son how to fight.
He said he praised Aldrich “for his very early violent behavior”, adding that he also said “it works. It’s instant and you’ll get immediate results.”
Brink said Voepel and Aldrich moved to Colorado around 2012.
He added that he was surprised Aldrich had been at Club Q, where authorities say the shooter killed five people and wounded 19 others with a semi-automatic rifle on Saturday, because he did not believe his son had gone to an LGBTQ establishment. firstly because the family is Mormon.
A spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints told NBC News that Aldrich is listed as a member, but has not been active for more than a decade.
“There’s no excuse to go and kill people,” Brink said. “If you’re killing people, there’s something wrong. It’s not the answer.”
A motive in the shooting remains unclear. Aldrich has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder and five counts of committing those crimes as part of a bias attack.
The suspect was subdued by at least two people inside the club.
Prosecutor Michael Allen said Aldrich, who appeared in court via video with injuries to his face, was “physically competent” to stand trial. The next hearing was scheduled for December 6.
After court, Allen declined to answer questions from reporters related to another case involving Aldrich.
Aldrich was arrested last year after Voepel reported that her son threatened her with a pipe bomb and other weapons. Doorbell video obtained by AP shows Aldrich arriving at Voepel’s front door with a large black bag on the day of the 2021 bomb threat, telling him police were nearby, adding: “This is where I am. I’m dying today.”
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 the mother said Aldrich had.
Brink said he feels remorse for letting his son down and only learned of Aldrich’s alleged involvement in the shooting when a defense attorney contacted him.
Brink told KFMB that he loved Aldrich “no matter what” and asked people to “please forgive” his son.
Donna Mendell, Shelley Osterloh Y The Associated Press contributed.