(CTN NEWS) – COLORADO SPRINGS – The suspect in the shooting deaths of five people at a Colorado gay nightclub changed his identity more than six years ago when he was a teenager and claimed that he did so to “shield himself” from a father with a criminal record.
Before 2016, Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, accused of murder and hate crimes, went by the name Nicholas Brink.
According to court documents, he requested a name change from a Texas court just before turning 16 years old. Brink’s grandparents, who were at the time his legal guardians, filed a petition for the name change on his behalf.
Minor wants to shield his identity and future from any ties to his biological father and his criminal past. Father hasn’t spoken to the child in years, according to the petition.
Records in Bexar County, Texas, show that the boy’s mother and father agreed to the name change and signed affidavits.
A few months after Aldrich was allegedly the target of internet bullying, a name change request was made. He may have been bullied in high school, according to a website posting from June 2015 that criticized a boy named Nick Brink.
The post made fun of Brink’s weight, lack of money, and what it claimed to be an interest in Chinese cartoons while also including images similar to those of the shooting suspect.
Brink’s name was also used to create a YouTube account that featured the animation “Asian homosexual gets assaulted.”
Although the cause for the shooting that occurred at Club Q in Colorado Springs on Saturday is still unknown, the information that is becoming available about the suspect points to a difficult background.
The Washington Post was the first to report on the name change and bullying.
Aldrich was assaulted and beaten by other club attendees during the attack that left 17 other individuals with gunshot wounds and hospitalized him Tuesday.
According to online court documents, he is accused of murder and five counts of causing bodily harm while acting with bias.
In a park in Colorado Springs, a mostly conservative city of about 480,000 people, hundreds of people gathered Monday night to remember those who lost their lives in the attack on the nightclub that served as a haven for LGBTQ people.
Colorado Springs is located about 110 kilometres (70 miles) south of Denver.
Gay 24-year-old Jeremiah Harris claimed he frequented the club a few times per month and identified one of the victims as the bartender who regularly served him.
“Gay people have lived in this country for as long as people have”, according to Harris. “To everyone else who disagrees with it, we won’t change our minds. You must put up with it since we are only growing louder.”
Let’s be clear. The terrible shooting in Colorado Springs this weekend is a direct result of the hateful and violent rhetoric that has been allowed to grow in this country. We must stand united with the LGBTQ+ community and speak out against bigotry everywhere we find it.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) November 21, 2022
If the accused committed a hate crime, it must be demonstrated that their hostility was directed against the victims’ real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
Prosecutors have not yet filed formal charges in court, and the accusations against Aldrich are only preliminary.
Court records detailing Aldrich’s arrest have been sealed at the prosecution’s request. There was no immediate information on whether Aldrich had legal representation.
Authorities at the local and federal levels declined to comment on the matter on Monday, citing the ongoing investigation.
Michael Allen, the district attorney, pointed out bias crimes are only eligible for probation, whereas murder charges carry the maximum punishment: life in prison.
“But it is vital to let the community know that we do not accept bias-motivated crimes in this town, that we support groups that have been abused, harassed, and intimidated,” Allen said, noting that additional charges are conceivable.
On Monday, more information emerged about those who died and those who are credited with halting the attack.
Authorities claim that two clubgoers, including Richard Fierro, stopped the attack. Fierro told reporters that he snatched a revolver from Aldrich, struck him with it, and then held him down with the assistance of another person.
Former Army major Fierro, who now runs a nearby brewery, claimed that the suspect “came in shooting” as he and his family were enjoying a birthday celebration.
Fierro claimed that while the suspect was wearing some body armour, he raced at him, pulled him to the ground, and pummelled him until the police arrived.
Fierro claimed that although his actions saved lives, the deaths, including the 22-year-old Raymond Green Vance, his daughter’s lover, were a tragedy for him personally and the larger community.
“One of the five people I could not assist was a member of my family”, he admitted.
The man who stopped the Colorado Springs mass shooting was tackled and arrested by the cops.
This was their only intervention in the massacre. https://t.co/6ORgIU7npv
— Robert Evans (The Only Robert Evans) (@IwriteOK) November 21, 2022
Vance’s family released a statement claiming that the beloved member of their family was originally from Colorado Springs and had recently started working at FedEx, where he intended to save money for an apartment.
Authorities and family members identified the other victims as Derrick Rump, 38, another club bartender who was well-known for his quick wit and habit of treating his friends like family.
Ashley Paugh, 35, a mother who assisted in finding homes for foster children, and Daniel Aston, 28, a bartender and entertainer who had worked at the club.
Kelly Loving, 40, whose sister described her as “caring and sweet,” and Daniel Aston, 28.
Authorities identified Thomas James as the second customer who stopped the shooter. According to Fierro, a third individual assisted and gave the suspect a kick to the head.
According to a law enforcement official, the suspect utilized a semi-automatic rifle in the AR-15 design. Also found were a handgun and more ammunition magazines.
The official talked to the AP anonymously because he could not disclose probe specifics publicly.
After the attack, people began to wonder why Aldrich’s guns had not been taken away from him when he was detained in 2021 after his mother said he had threatened her with a homemade bomb and other weapons.
Gun control supporters have questioned why police didn’t use Colorado Springs‘s “red flag” laws to seize the firearms his mother claims he had, even though officials at the time said no explosives were discovered.
There is no evidence that the prosecution has ever brought felony kidnapping and menacing charges against Aldrich.
The nightclub massacre was the sixth major killing this month and the 21 people killed in the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting last year left the country in shock.
It also brought back thoughts of the 49-person shooting at the Pulse LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in 2016.
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