Anderson Lee Aldrich is the 22-year-old suspect accused of perpetrating a mass shooting at Club Q, a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The November 19, 2022, attack left five dead and 19 injured, including 17 who suffered gunshot wounds, police said.
The shooter burst into the nightclub with a long rifle and opened fire inside just before midnight, Colorado Springs Police Lieutenant Pamela Castro said in an early morning news conference on November 20. Aldrich was subdued by heroic patrons, who were credited with saving lives, Castro said. One disarmed the suspect and beat him with Aldrich’s own gun, according to NPR.
The accused gunman’s birth name was Nicholas Brink, with a nickname of Nick Brink, according to The Washington Post, which reported that the shooter sought a name change due to “online bullying.” Heavy has confirmed the 2016 name change with Bexar County, Texas, court records. The Denver Gazette reported that the name change came because Aldrich wanted to distance from his father, Aaron Brink, an adult film performer named “Dick Delaware” who has a criminal history and crystal meth addiction.
The Colorado Springs mass shooting came just days before another mass shooting broke out, this one on November 22, 2022, at a Chesapeake, Virginia Walmart. That shooter was named as an overnight manager, Andre Bing. Both mass shootings have re-intensified the ongoing debate in the United States.
Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, a New York Times reporter, wrote on Twitter, “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.”
The online bullying involved a Wikipedia-like page targeted Aldrich. It’s still up, and someone has now updated it with the Club Q shooting. “Anderson Lee Aldrich a.k.a. Joclings (Deadname: Nick Brink) is a l33t hax0r, pedophile and f** killer from Texas that graduated from CSIII at the top of his class and weighs well over 9000 kilograms,” the site says. “Spending all day lurking in the depths of the internet on child porn sites and gaming forums, if you so much as glanced in his direction, he’d immediately attempt to overpower you with his fat and tell you all about his success on the internet.”
The cruel site included photos of Aldrich with the phrase, “That’s a face only a mother could love. Too bad she’s gone now.” The site makes unverified claims about Aldrich’s family life.
No officer fired shots, Castro said, and two firearms were located at the scene. Aldrich, who remains hospitalized, is facing 10 charges, according to court records. Aldrich was charged with five counts of first-degree murder and five counts of bias-motivated crimes causing bodily injury, court records show. It’s not yet known when the suspect’s first court appearance will be.
Heavy has confirmed that Aldrich’s grandfather is outgoing California Republican State Assemblymember Randy Voepel, the former mayor of Santee, California. Voepel represents the 71st District in the San Diego area. There were calls to expel Voepel from the state Assembly after he made comments comparing the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol to the Revolutionary War. Aldrich’s mother, Laura Voepel, has written posts praising Randy Voepel on Facebook and confirming he is her father.
“This is Lexington and Concord. First shots fired against tyranny,” Randy Voepel, who was defeated in a Republican primary in August 2022, said in a San Diego Union-Tribune article three days after January 6. “Tyranny will follow in the aftermath of the Biden swear-in on January 20th.” According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Voepel “later tweeted that he condemned violence and lawlessness.” Voepel and his office did not immediately respond to requests for comments from Heavy.
Disturbing video first obtained by Daily Mail shows Aldrich live streaming a standoff with police in 2021, when he was accused of threatening to detonate a bomb. The charges ended up being dropped for no clear reason. “This is your boy, I’ve got the f****** s**theads outside. F****** s**theads got their f****** rifles out. If they breach I’m [going to] blow it to holy hell. Come on in boys, let’s f****** see it!” he said in the video, wearing a ballistic vest.
The first two victims named in the Club Q shooting were bartenders Derrick Rump and Daniel Aston, who were remembered in tributes for their kindness and vibrant personalities.
The mass shooting occurred just before the Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20, “an annual observance … that honors the memory of the transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence,” according to GLAAD. Aston identified as transgender.
So did victim Kelly Loving. Colorado Springs police identified the other deceased victims as Ashley Paugh and Raymond Green Vance. “Too often society loses track of the victims of these sad and tragic events. We strive to give victims the dignity and respect they deserve, as well as shine the light of public attention to the victims. Therefore, we are identifying them now,” police wrote.
Police also released the names of the two heroes who subdued Aldrich: Thomas James and Richard Fierro.
Aldrich was arrested in 2021 after Aldrich’s mother reported to police that Aldrich was threatening to harm her with a homemade bomb and multiple weapons, according to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office in Colorado Springs. The accused gunman was arrested after a standoff and charged with five felonies, according to a press release at the time. But Aldrich was not prosecuted, records show. The El Paso County district attorney has not commented on why the case was dropped. It was also sealed.
District Attorney Michael Allen said the Colorado Springs shooting is being investigated through the “lens” of a hate crime.
Authorities said that Aldrich is 22. Authorities have not yet released a photo of Aldrich; the photos Heavy has found are a few years old, so the suspect looks younger in them. Some people are falsely sharing a picture of Raleigh, North Carolina, Christmas parade suspect Landon Glass on Twitter and saying it is Aldrich. Glass has nothing to do with the Club Q shooting.
Of the 25 wounded, 19 suffered gunshot wounds while others were injured fleeing, according to CNN. The mass shooting broke out on November 19, 2022, just before midnight, on an evening when the nightclub was hosting a drag show.
“It came in as an active shooting,” Castro said at the news conference.
Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said in a November 20 news conference that police are “working tirelessly” to make sure justice is achieved.
“Club Q is a safe haven for our LGBTQ citizens,” Vasquez said, adding that all citizens have a right to feel safe in Colorado Springs.
Here’s what you need to know about Colorado Springs shooting suspect Anderson Aldrich:
1. Anderson Lee Aldrich, Whose Grandfather Ran for Office on a Platform Against ‘the Swamp’ & Whose Mother Once Tried to Find a Private Boxing Coach for Aldrich, ‘Immediately Began Shooting People Inside,’ Police Say
Online records show Aldrich living at an apartment complex address in Colorado Springs. Online records indicate Aldrich shares that address with his mother, Laura Voepel, 44, who works as a support engineer and previously lived in California.
The Washington Post reported that Aldrich had a “tumultuous past,” growing up Nicholas Brink in San Antonio, Texas. Aldrich’s mother was arrested for “suspected arson” when the accused gunman was 12, although she was convicted of a lesser charge, The Post reported.
Those records are also out of Bexar County, Texas:
At age 15, Aldrich “became the target of a particularly vicious bout of online bullying in which insulting accusations were posted to a website,” along with Aldrich’s “name, photos and online aliases,” The Post reported, adding that a YouTube account under Aldrich’s name featured “a crude, profanity-laden animation under the title, ‘Asian homosexual gets molested.'”
Laura has praised her father, outgoing California state Representative Randy Voepel, in Facebook posts, writing, “Keep up the work Dad~~ You work hard to improve our lives and a lot of us take notice.”
On Aldrich’s birthday, Laura Voepel wrote on Facebook, “My boys 15 birthday! He got head to toe (6’3″) ghillie military suit ànd he is surfing cloud 9.” She tagged her mother, Pamela Pullen, in the post, who Ancestry.com records confirm is Randy’s ex-wife.
Facebook posts made by Aldrich’s mother reveal Aldrich had been dealing with mental health issues. She posted often about Anderson in a Facebook group for women involved in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Colorado Springs area.
In one post in July 2021, she asked for help finding a criminal defense attorney: “Hello Sisters. Does anyone know of a fantastic defense attorney? I ask this with a heavy heart but my family really needs some help at this time. We have cash to retain good counsel. Thank you.” Her post about needing a criminal defense attorney came just after Aldrich was arrested.
In February 2022, she wrote, “Hello Sisters. Can anyone please recommend a great trauma/ptsd therapist?” and indicated it was for a 21-year-old, which Aldrich then was. She asked in May 2022, “Can anybody refer my son to a private boxing coach? He’s 6’6” tall and hits like a freight train. Cannot find a good gym or anyone serious. He has made huge life changes and needs this!”
In 2021, she wrote, “Does anyone have an extra heavy duty fan they would like to donate to my son? He’s in University Village Apartments and it’s 80 degrees in his apartment and no fan. They put in a new ac but it doesn’t blow any air out. I swear they need to clean those ducts. He doesn’t have any cash so thought I’d ask you. Thanks all! 🙏👍🏻😊”
Randy Voepel was defeated after redistricting forced two Republicans to run against each other. Heavy has reached out to numerous members of Voepel’s office to seek comment from him, including his chief of staff.
“Randy Voepel was elected to represent California’s 71st Assembly District in 2016. Before joining the Assembly, Randy served on the Santee City Council between 1996 and 2000, and then served as Mayor between 2000-2016,” his bio reads. “Randy is a Vietnam veteran, serving two tours in the conflict with the US Navy. After leaving the service, he worked nearly forty years in the insurance industry. Randy and his wife Susan live in Santee, where they raised their two children.”
After Heavy was first to report the suspect’s familial tie to Randy Voepel, the Denver Gazette also confirmed the relationship.
In Colorado Springs, the police chief told the assembled media that Aldrich, 22, had entered the gay nightclub and opened fire.
“The suspect entered Club Q and immediately began shooting people inside,” Vasquez said. At least two “heroic people confronted” and stopped Aldrich from being able to harm others, the chief said. The FBI was on the scene and police were still working to identify the victims who had died, he said. Aldrich used a long rifle, he said.
The first 911 call reporting an active shooting at Club Q came in just before 11:57 p.m. The suspect was in the hospital, Castro said, but she did not know the gunman’s condition or how the shooter sustained the injuries.
In a press conference on November 20, 2022, Castro said police responded within seconds, and, by 12 a.m., the first officer arrived at the scene. By 12:02 a.m., the suspect was in custody, she said. Vasquez told the media the shooting lasted about a minute.
The suspect was located inside, Castro said. “We had numerous people transported to multiple local hospitals” by ambulance and police vehicles, she said.
“We did get numerous calls on this,” Castro said.
Castro said closing time for clubs in Colorado Springs is 2 a.m. Numerous homicide detectives were processing the scene, and vehicles at the scene needed to remain until they were fully processed, she said.
According to The New York Times, Vasquez said the suspect had not spoken with police and “did not appear to have said anything at the crime scene.”
2. Anderson Aldrich Was Previously Involved in a Standoff Following a Bomb Threat
In 2021, Aldrich was charged in a false bomb threat situation in the Lorson Ranch neighborhood of Colorado Springs.
That coincides with the time frame in which Aldrich’s mother was seeking a criminal defense attorney.
According to the June 18, 2021, press release from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, the reporting party “said her son was threatening to cause harm to her with a homemade bomb, multiple weapons and ammunition. The reporting party was not in the home at the time when she made the call and was not sure where her son was.”
Authorities responded and realized the suspect, Aldrich, was in a residence just 1 mile away, according to the press release. The deputies contacted Aldrich by phone. Aldrich refused to surrender, the release indicates, and a tactical support unit responded to the scene and began evacuating 10 homes in the area as a precaution.
Eventually Aldrich complied and walked out the front door after a crisis negotiations unit became involved, the release says. Aldrich was booked into the El Paso County Jail on charges of felony menacing and first-degree kidnapping, according to the release. That document indicated a mugshot for Aldrich would be released in the future; Heavy contacted the jail to seek that mugshot and was sent to a voicemail that is full.
Authorities would not comment on any past criminal history for Aldrich. No ongoing court case is listed for Aldrich in Colorado court records. No formal charges were ever filed, and the case was sealed, so it’s not clear why, The Gazette reported.
The Gazette reported that Aldrich called an editor and asked for the story to be removed from the website.
“There is absolutely nothing there, the case was dropped, and I’m asking you either remove or update the story,” Aldrich told The Gazette in a voicemail. “The entire case was dismissed.”
The Gazette questioned why this arrest did not activate Colorado’s red flag law.
3. Aldrich’s Father Was a Porn Star & Mixed Martial Artist Named Aaron Brink, Who Went by the Name ‘Dick Delaware’ in Adult Films
Aaron Brink is a former mixed martial arts fighter and adult film performer with the stage name “Dick Delaware” who is the father of accused Colorado Springs mass shooter Anderson Aldrich.
Aldrich’s dad has a colorful and checkered history that includes crystal meth addiction, mixed martial arts, porn, and time in prison. The name change petition, obtained by the Denver Gazette, and written by Aldrich’s maternal grandmother Pamela Pullen, reads, “minor wishes to protect himself and his future from any connections to birth father and his criminal history. Father has had no contact with minor for several years.” ”
Aldrich’s dad is named Aaron Brink, according to The Washington Post, which said Brink and Aldrich’s mom Laura Voepel Brink were divorced in 2001, a year after Aldrich was born, in Orange, California. At age 15, Nick Brink sought the name change to Anderson Lee Aldrich. Voepel’s mother, Pamela Pullen, was listed as Aldrich’s legal guardian, the Denver Gazette reported.
In an interview with CBS 8, Brink, said he thought his son had committed suicide and hadn’t seen him for years.
“I was a porn star. I became a porno star in 2002,” he said. “My ex, she took off.”
He said he hadn’t seen his son for years.
He found out recently that Aldrich didn’t kill himself and lived in Colorado. “His mother told me this. He killed himself because I’m an embarrassment to him.”
Brink said he also has a daughter. “He’s been accused of doing some crazy thing… something involving a gay bar… I don’t know what the heck he did in a gay bar.”
The reporter said he was accused of going on a mass shooting.
“Ok well, sh**…He’s not gay,” was Brink’s response. “…I didn’t expect to hear this kind of stuff.”
Brink said his son wanted to see him last year.
The Gazette reported that Nicholas Brink chose the name Anderson Lee Aldrich because Aldrich liked the initials “ALA.”
Online records reviewed by Heavy show that Brink, now 48, still lives in California. Aldrich was living in Colorado Springs, where Laura Voepel had moved, at the time of the mass shooting.
According to MMA Junkie, Aaron Brink “grew up in Huntington Beach, Calif., as the son of a blue-collar worker when blue-collar workers could still make it in Huntington Beach.” He loved surfing but turned to wrestling because his dad did not find surfing athletic enough, the site reports.
“He was kicked out of Huntington High for fighting, and from 1989-92, he was in and out of juvenile hall eight times for different issues,” MMA Junkie reports.
The site adds, “Brink was arrested for smuggling marijuana from Mexico to the United States and was sentenced to time at Federal Correctional Institution Terminal Island.” That federal case dates to 1993.
In 2016, Brink ran afoul with the law again, according to a police report in Rocklin. It reads:
At about 6:37 pm, Rocklin Police responded to a theft in progress where the suspect was reported to have be in possession of a firearm. Officers arrived and located the suspect vehicle in the area of Lonetree Boulevard and Sandhill Way. The vehicle was occupied by two occupants who were both detained. Officers discovered one occupant, Aaron Brink was in violation of parole from Southern California and was under the influence of a controlled substance. The second occupant, Anthony Dickerson was found to be in possession of burglary tools. Both suspects were arrested and booked into the Placer County Jail.
Brink appeared in a 2009 episode of the television show “Intervention.”
The episode caption reveals his porn name was “Dick Delaware.”
“Aaron was a mixed martial arts champion, but at the height of his career he started working in porn under the name ‘Dick Delaware,'” it reads. “Through the porn scene, Aaron was introduced to crystal meth. His daily habit took over and he lost both his porn and fighting careers. He now spends his days using drugs and watching porn for hours on end, and his wife is at the end of her rope.”
MMA Junkie explains that Brink started doing porn at age 27.
“I met this porn producer,” Brink told the site. “I was f****** around with some girls at a party, and he noticed I was very gifted. He said, ‘Man, you’re a goddamn pro. If you get a test, I’ll put you in a scene.’”
A 2007 profile of “Dick Delaware” on XBiz, calls him “an uneasy ball of anger.”
Aaron and Vanessa Brink appeared on an episode of “Divorce Court” in 2011.
“Two former adult stars, Aaron and Vanessa, have had a rocky marriage and now Vanessa is done. Aaron wishes that she could see him not as he was, but as he is today: clean and sober, with a career in Mixed Martial Arts, and still very much in love with her,” the YouTube caption reads.
Authorities have said the motive in the gay club attack is still under investigation. However, in a statement, the club referred to it as a “hate attack.”
On its Facebook page, Club Q wrote:
Club Q is devastated by the senseless attack on our community.
Our prays and thoughts are with all the victims and their families and friends.
We thank the quick reactions of heroic customers that subdued the gunman and ended this hate attack.
“The look on his face, the determination, that anger as he entered the building,” Club Q founder Matthew Haynes said, according to NBC News. Haynes said the shooter was on a “definite mission,” the outlet reported, adding that police have said a motive remains unclear.
Authorities said they are still investigating whether the mass shooting was a hate crime.
Club Q was slated to host two drag events over the weekend in celebration of the Transgender Day of Remembrance.
The night of the attack, the club hosted a drag show, according to its Facebook page. The drag show started at 9 p.m. on November 19, 2022.
Right around the time of the attack, Club Q posted about another upcoming drag event.
“Let’s prep for a fantastic Sunday Funday!” the club wrote on its Facebook page.
“Doors open at 11am for our noon ALL AGES DRAG BRUNCH!!! Join us for a fantastic drink special and even more amazing drag show! Then stick around for an all stars cast of our freshest faces! We’re celebrating Transgender Day of Remembrance with a variety of gender identities and performance styles! Show starts at 8pm!”
According to Castro, authorities didn’t know whether “minors were at the event.”
4. A Woman Who Rented a Spare Room to Aldrich’s Mom Described the Accused Shooter as ‘Aggressive’
Leslie Bowman told The New York Times that the 2021 standoff with Aldrich occurred at her home because she was renting a spare room to the suspect’s mother, also identified by The Times as Laura Voepel.
“His mom had called me and said, ‘Don’t come home right now, there are some people looking for Andy,’” Bowman told the newspaper, which reported that “Andy” is Aldrich’s nickname.
Voepel moved out two days later, and Bowman never heard from her again, she said, but she told The Times that police visited about a month ago seeking to check Voepel’s welfare.
She told The Times that Aldrich was living in a house with maternal grandparents nearby at the time of the 2021 arrest but would visit his mother to watch movies with her. (This appears to be a reference to Voepel’s mother and her new husband, not to Randy Voepel.)
Bowman told The Times Aldrich had an “aggressive side” and once slammed a door in her face when Laura Voepel complained about repairs.
“Why is he not in jail, after that happening?” Bowman told The Times. “After that initial day, police never reached out to me for additional information. I’m a Second Amendment supporter, don’t get me wrong. But for him to be out there, and have access to weapons after that incident, I don’t understand it.”
Video captured a massive law enforcement response to the scene of the Club Q attack.
The governor, Jared Polis, released a statement on Facebook:
The Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs was horrific, sickening, and devastating news to wake up to. My heart breaks for the family and friends of those lost, injured, and traumatized in this horrific shooting. I have spoken with Mayor Suthers and clarified that every state resource is available to local law enforcement in Colorado Springs. We are eternally grateful for the brave individuals who blocked the gunman, likely saving lives in the process, and for the first responders who responded swiftly to this horrific shooting. Colorado stands with our LGTBQ Community and everyone impacted by this tragedy as we mourn.
Authorities would not say whether Aldrich said anything during the shooting.
5. Aldrich Had Ties to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but Hadn’t Been Active for Some Time
Aldrich was affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which condemned the attack and suspect and said Aldrich had not been active for some time, according to Fox 13 Now.
NPR reported that a bystander subdued Aldrich by grabbing his gun and beating the suspect with it.
“One customer took down the gunman and was assisted by another,” club co-owner Matthew Haynes told The New York Times after watching surveillance video of the shooting. “He saved dozens and dozens of lives. Stopped the man cold. Everyone else was running away, and he ran toward him.”
One victim collapsed at a 7-Eleven store nearby, according to NPR.
A man named Tanner Pettit wrote on Facebook that he escaped the mass shooting:
Last night, I had to experience something I never thought I would ever have to experience, and I hope that no one I know ever does. I just moved to Colorado Springs about a week ago, and decided to go to one of the popular LGBTQ+ clubs, Club Q, in the area to watch a drag show, make friends, and have fun.
Near the end of the night, I was waiting for my Uber back home, a man by the name of Anderson Aldrich entered Club Q with a rife and began shooting people. 5 people were shot and killed. At least 18 are reported injured. I was lucky to be able to get out of the club and to safety. Many others were not lucky.
I’m not going to turn this into an argument on gun control, on LGBTQ+ rights, on the role of police officers. Last night I was witness to a disgusting and terrifying tragedy and my heart goes out to the beautiful people I was able to meet that night. My thoughts are with the families of the victims, and I hope that the person behind this disgusting and inhumane act is brought to justice.
On social media, people expressed heartbreak over the shooting. A woman wrote, “This is devastating. Club Q is a favorite for many friends here in the Springs. I’m not even sure how to process this, but I need to- before the names are released. God bless each and every person involved.”
A man wrote, “To all the victims at #ClubQ last night I am sorry our Country refuses to do better, & last night you had to join a growing list. My condolences to the families of the 5 that passed & their friends. May they Rest in Peace. 🕊️💔🏳️🌈To the 18 I pray for your full recovery. 🙏🏼”