As the 22-year-old arrested in the murderous rampage at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ club appeared in court for the first time on Wednesday and was sentenced to detention without bail, pieces of the suspect’s past are slowly emerging, suggesting an unstable upbringing and a fractured family life.
Anderson’s father Lee Aldrich said in an interview with CBS affiliate KFMB in San Diego on Tuesday that he believes Aldrich died by suicide several years ago and that it wasn’t until this year that he learned otherwise.
Aaron Brink told the news station that he mourned the loss of his child and went 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 filing Tuesday, Aldrich’s defense team referred to the suspect as “Mx. Aldrich,” noting in the footnotes that their client is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns.There were no further clarifications and defense attorneys for Aldrich 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 16, “wants to protect himself and his future from any connection to his biological father and his criminal history. . The father had no contact with the minor for several years.” The filing 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 on Wednesday.
Aldrich’s mother, Laura Voepel, also lived in Texas. Efforts to reach her also failed.
Brink, 48, said he only learned Aldrich was still alive after receiving a phone call six months ago from his child. The couple quarreled.
He told KFMB that Aldrich was “pissed with me” and “wants to poke the old man.”
The former MMA fighter who later starred in pornographic films recalled his ex-wife saying Aldrich was looking to change his name because Brink was associated with the porn industry and also appeared on an episode of 2009 A&E docuseries “Intervention”.
In the episode, Brink says he is addicted to crystal meth and is shown using drugs before his family members encourage him to seek treatment. Brink’s own troubled childhood is portrayed on the show, including his parents’ divorce and his arrest at age 21 for smuggling marijuana from Mexico into the United States. He served three years in federal prison.
Brink said he divorced Aldrich’s mother shortly after their child was born. Neither Voepel nor Aldrich are mentioned in the episode “Intervention”.
Brink’s criminal history also includes assault convictions against the suspect’s mother before and after Aldrich’s birth, the Associated Press reported. A 2002 misdemeanor battery conviction in California resulted in a protective order that initially prohibited Brink from contacting Voepel and their child except through an attorney, but was later amended to allow supervised visitation with Aldrich, according to the AP.
Brink told KFMB that he was the one who taught his child to fight.
He said he praised Aldrich “for his violent behavior early on”, adding that he also said “it works. It’s instant and you will get immediate results”.
Brink said Voepel and Aldrich moved to Colorado around 2012.
He said he was surprised Aldrich was at Club Q, where authorities say the gunman killed five people and injured 19 others with a semi-automatic rifle on Saturday, because he did not believe his child would have gone to an LGBTQ facility. first because the family is Mormon.
A spokesperson for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints told NBC News that Aldrich is on the membership roster but has not been active for more than a decade.
“There’s no excuse for going out and killing people,” Brink said. “If you’re killing people, there’s something wrong. That’s not the answer.”
The motive for the shooting remains unclear. Aldrich was charged with five counts of first degree murder and five counts of committing the 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 facial injuries, was “physically fit” to stand trial. The next hearing was scheduled for December 6.
After court, Allen declined to answer reporters’ questions about another case involving Aldrich.
Aldrich was arrested last year after Voepel reported that her child threatened her with a pipe bomb and other weapons. Doorbell video obtained by the AP shows Aldrich arriving at Voepel’s front door with a large black bag on the day of the 2021 bomb threat, telling him that police were nearby and adding: ” That’s where I stand. Today I die.”
Authorities at the time said no explosives were found, but gun control advocates question why police didn’t use Colorado’s ‘red flag’ laws to seize the guns that Aldrich’s mother owned.
Brink said he felt remorse for letting his child down and only learned of Aldrich’s alleged involvement in the shooting when a defense attorney contacted him.
Brink told KFMB he loved Aldrich “no matter what” and asked people to “forgive” his child.
Donna Mendell, Shelley Osterloh and The Associated Press contributed.