New York Daily News

Suspect in killings at Colo. gay club held without bail

- BY PETER SBLENDORIO With News Wire Services

The suspect accused of killing five people in a mass shooting at a Colorado gay nightclub over the weekend was held without bail Wednesday.

The order came during the first court hearing for Anderson Lee Aldrich, whose preliminar­y charges include five counts of murder and five related to committing a hate crime in connection with the rampage at Club Q in Colorado Springs.

Aldrich, who attended Wednesday’s hearing via video, was released from a hospital Tuesday after allegedly suffering injuries during the attack, which police say could have been worse had some patrons not fought and subdued the suspect. Injuries to the incarcerat­ed Aldrich’s face and head could be seen during Wednesday’s hearing.

Public defenders said in a Tuesday court filing that the 22-year-old Aldrich is nonbinary and uses the pronouns they/them. The suspect, identified in the documents as “Mx. Aldrich,” changed their name from Nicholas Franklin Brink in 2016.

“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,” read a filing in Texas to change his name.

How the suspect identifies shouldn’t affect the case, contended prosecutor Michael Allen, who referred to Aldrich as “he” while speaking with reporters after Wednesday’s hearing. The next hearing is scheduled for Dec. 6.

Authoritie­s haven’t publicly released a motive for the shooting, which also left more than a dozen people wounded. The hate crime counts against Aldrich assert they committed a bias-motivated crime causing bodily injury, though officials haven’t explained those charges and the court records are sealed.

“It has all the trappings of a hate crime, but we need to look at social media, we need to look at all other kinds of informatio­n ... before we make any definitive conclusion­s about a motive,” Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said Monday on NBC’s “Today” show.

Police say the massacre began shortly before midnight Saturday and was only stopped after patrons confronted and beat the shooter before authoritie­s arrived. Those patrons were identified as Rich Fierro, an army veteran, and Thomas James, a Navy officer based in Colorado Springs.

“We owe them a great debt of thanks,” Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said Sunday.

The shooter had “no hesitation” while carrying out the attack, witness Deanne VanScyoc said.

Fierro was at the bar with his daughter, Kassy, and her boyfriend, Raymond Vance. The 22-year-old Vance was one of the five victims killed in the shooting.

The other victims who died were identified by loved ones as Club Q employees Derrick Rump, 38, and Daniel Aston, 28, and patrons Kelly Loving, 40, and Ashley Paugh, 35.

The gunfire began minutes before the start of Transgende­r Day of Remembranc­e, which honors trans people killed in discrimina­tory hate and violence. Club Q had a brunch scheduled Sunday to commemorat­e the day.

Aldrich was arrested last year after allegedly threatenin­g their mother with weapons including a homemade bomb. Police haven’t said why authoritie­s didn’t seize any weapons under the state’s “red flag” law.

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