The Colorado shooter’s dad: “I praised him for violent behavior really early. I told him it works … You’ll get immediate results.” Video / NoLieWithBTC
The father of the person suspected of killing five people and injuring another 18 in a Colorado night club told reporters he had praised his child for “violent behavior”.
The suspect, currently held without bail, is accused of murdering five people after storming the LGBTQ venue Club Q in Colorado Springs on Saturday night, local time.
The suspect has been identified as Anderson Lee Aldrich, aged 22.
The defense lawyers have since stated that Aldrich is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns.
Aldrich’s father, Aaron Brink, told the media that, when he heard about the shooting, he worried that his child might be gay.
The father, who is a former MMA fighter and porn star, told reporters that, up until six months ago, he thought Aldrich had committed suicide.
The suspect was formerly known as Nicholas Brink but reportedly changed his name in 2016, according to a court filing, to “protect himself and his future from any connections to birth father [sic] and his criminal history”.
That same year, Brink claimed his ex-wife told him his child had died by suicide.
“I thought he was dead. I mourned his loss. I had gone through a meltdown and thought I had lost my son,” the father said CBS 8.
He also spoke about the moment Aldrich’s lawyers called him to let him know his child had been involved in the club shooting, revealing that he was relieved to realize they were not gay.
“They started telling me about the incident, a shooting involving multiple people. And then I go on to find out it’s a gay bar,” he said.
“I got scared, ‘S**t, is he gay?’ And he’s not gay, so I said, ‘phew’.”
He then added that he didn’t know “what the heck” his child would be doing at a gay bar.
“If he is accused of doing that, I’m glad he’s not gay,” he added, explaining that he is a Mormon and a conservative Republican.
“We don’t do gay,” he added.
He also told the reporters that he had previously praised his child for violent behavior.
“I told him it works, it’s instant and you will get immediate results,” he said.
The father eventually apologized to the families of the victims. He also asked people to forgive the suspect.
“I’m sorry for your loss. Life is so fragile and it’s valuable. Those people’s lives were valuable. You know, they’re valuable. They’re good people probably. It’s not something you kill somebody over. I’m sorry I let my son down,” he said.
“I love my son no matter what. I love my son. Please forgive my son.”
Aldrich faces five murder charges and five charges of committing a bias-motivated crime causing bodily injury in Saturday night’s attack at Club Q, online court records showed.
Authorities said the attack was stopped by two club patrons, including Richard Fierro, who told reporters Monday night that he took a handgun from Aldrich, hit him with it and pinned him down with help from another person.
Fierro, a 15-year US Army veteran who owns a local brewery, said he was celebrating a birthday with family members when the suspect “came in shooting”.
Fierro said during a lull in the shooting he ran at the suspect, who was wearing some type of armor plates, and pulled him down before severely beating him until the police arrived.
“I tried to save people and it didn’t work for five of them,” he said. “These are all good people … I’m not a hero. I’m just some dude.”
Fierro’s daughter’s longtime boyfriend, Raymond Green Vance, 22, was killed, while his daughter hurt her knee as she ran for cover. Fierro injured his hands, knees and ankle while stopping the shooter.
The suspect remained hospitalized with unspecified injuries but is expected to make his first court appearance in the next few days, after doctors clear him to be released from the hospital.
The charges against Aldrich were preliminary, and prosecutors had not filed formal charges in court yet. The hate crime charges would require proving that the gunman was motivated by bias, such as against the victims’ actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
Local and federal authorities during a Monday news briefing declined to answer questions about why hate crime charges are being considered, citing the ongoing investigation. District Attorney Michael Allen noted that the murder charges would carry the harshest penalty — life in prison — whereas bias crimes are eligible for probation.
“But it is important to let the community know that we do not tolerate bias-motivated crimes in this community, that we support communities that have been maligned, harassed and intimidated and abused,” Allen said.
“And that’s one way that we can do that, showing that we will put the money where our mouth is, essentially, and make sure that we try it that way.”
Additional charges are possible as the investigation continues, he said.
About 200 people gathered Monday night in the cold at a city park for a community vigil for the shooting victims. People held candles, embraced and listened as speakers on a stage expressed both rage and sadness over the shootings.
Jeremiah Harris, who is 24 and gay, said he went to Club Q a few times a month and recognized one of the victims as the bartender who always served him. He said hearing others speak at the vigil was galvanizing following the attack at what for more than 20 years had been considered an LGBTQ safe spot in the conservative-leaning city.
“Gay people have been here as long as people have been here,” Harris said.
“To everybody else that’s opposed to that … we’re not going anywhere. We’re just getting louder and you have to deal with it.”
The other victims were 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, whose sister described her as “caring and sweet”; and Derrick Rump, 38, another club bartender who was known for his quick wit and adopting his friends as his family.
Vance’s family said in a statement that the Colorado Springs native was adored by his family and had recently gotten a job at FedEx, where he hoped to save enough money to get his own apartment.
Thomas James was identified by authorities as the other patron who intervened to stop the shooter. Fierro said a third person also helped — a performer at the club who Fierro said kicked the suspect in the head as she ran by.
Court documents laying out Aldrich’s arrest have been sealed at the request of prosecutors. Information on whether Aldrich had a lawyer was not immediately available.
A law enforcement official said the suspect used an AR-15-style semi-automatic weapon. A handgun and additional ammunition magazines were also recovered. The official could not discuss details of the investigation publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
Thirteen victims remained hospitalized Monday, officials said. Five people had been treated and released.
Officials on Monday clarified that 18 people were hurt in the attack, not 25 as they said originally. Among them was one person whose injury was not a gunshot wound. Another victim had no visible injuries, they said.
Colorado Springs, a city of about 480,000, is 110 km south of Denver. Mayor John Suthers said there was “reason to hope” all of the hospitalized victims would recover.
– Additional reporting by AP