Shooting in Colorado Springs: what do we know about the suspect?



The suspect in the mass shooting of 22 people at a Colorado gay nightclub sought a name change more than six years ago, according to public records. The request came months after he was apparently bullied online.

Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, who faces murder and hate crime charges, was known as Nicholas Brink until 2016. Just before his 16th birthday, he asked a Texas court to change his name, according to the records.

Online court documents offered no official reason for the name change, which was first reported by The Washington Post. The documents were signed by his grandparents, the Post said.

Months earlier, when he was 15, a website featuring photos of Brink ridiculed him, The Post reported. Additionally, a YouTube account was opened in his name which included an animation titled « Asian Gay Gets Mugged ».

The petition for the name change was later filed in Bexar County, Texas, records show.

The motive for Saturday’s shooting that killed five at Club Q in Colorado Springs is still under investigation.

The suspect, who remained hospitalized on Tuesday, was tackled and beaten by bar patrons during the attack which left 17 others with gunshot wounds. Aldrich faces five charges of murder and five charges of committing a bias-motivated crime causing bodily harm, court records online showed.

Hundreds of people, many holding candles and wiping away tears, gathered Monday night in a Colorado Springs park to honor the victims of the assault on a nightlife spot that for decades was a sanctuary for the LGBTQ community in this mostly conservative city of about 480,000 about 70 miles (110 kilometers) south of Denver.

Jeremiah Harris, 24 and gay, said he visited the club a few times a month and recognized one of the victims as the bartender who always served him.

“Gays have been here as long as people have been here,” Harris said. « To everyone who’s against it…we’re not going anywhere. We’re getting louder and louder and you have to deal with that. »

Hate crime charges would require proof that the shooter was motivated by bias, such as against the victims’ real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The charges against Aldrich are preliminary and prosecutors have yet to file formal charges in court.

Court documents establishing Aldrich’s arrest were sealed at the request of prosecutors. Information on whether Aldrich had an attorney was not immediately available.

Local and federal officials declined to answer questions Monday about why hate crime charges are being considered, citing the ongoing investigation. District Attorney Michael Allen noted that murder charges would carry the harshest sentence — life in prison — while bias crimes are eligible for probation.

« But it’s important to let the community know that we don’t condone bias-motivated crimes in this community, that we support communities that have been slandered, harassed, bullied and abused, » Allen said, adding that additional charges are possible.

More details emerged on Monday of those killed and those credited with stopping the shooting.

Authorities said the attack was stopped by two club bosses, including Richard Fierro, who told reporters he took a handgun from Aldrich, hit him with it and pinned him down with the gun. help from another person.

Fierro, a former army major who now owns a local brewery, said he was celebrating a birthday with family members when the suspect « came to shoot ». Fierro said he ran up to the suspect, who was wearing some sort of body armor, and pulled him down before beating him severely until police arrived.

Although his actions saved lives, Fierro said the deaths – including his daughter’s boyfriend Raymond Green Vance, 22 – were a tragedy for him personally and for the wider community.

« There are five people I couldn’t help, one of whom was my family, » he said.

Vance’s family said in a statement that the Colorado Springs native is adored by his family and recently got a job at FedEx, where he hopes to save enough money to get his own apartment.

The other victims have been identified by authorities and family members as 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, who her sister described as « caring and sweet »; and Derrick Rump, 38, another bartender at the club who was known for his quick wit and adopting friends as family.

Thomas James was identified by authorities as the other customer who intervened to arrest the shooter. Fierro said a third person also helped – a club performer who Fierro said kicked the suspect in the head.

A law enforcement official said the suspect used an AR-15 type semi-automatic weapon. A handgun and additional ammunition magazines were also recovered. The official could not publicly discuss details of the investigation and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

The assault raised questions about why authorities did not seek to take Aldrich’s guns away from him in 2021, when he was arrested after his mother reported he had threatened her with a pipe bomb and other weapons.

Although authorities at the time said no explosives were found, gun control advocates have questioned why police did not use Colorado’s « red flag » laws to seize the weapons his mother says she has. There are no public record prosecutors ever advanced with kidnapping and threatening charges against Aldrich.

The nightclub attack was the sixth mass shooting this month, and it came a year when the nation was rocked by the deaths of 21 people in a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. It also brought back memories of the 2016 massacre at gay Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, which killed 49 people.


Bedayn is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative body. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues.


Associated Press reporters Haven Daley in Colorado Springs, Colleen Slevin in Denver, Darlene Superville in Washington, Stephen Groves in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Jeff McMillan in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Matthew Brown in Billings, Montana, and researcher in news Rhonda Shafner from New York contributed.


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