Suspect in Colorado Gay Bar Shooting Changed Name Following Claimed Bullying, Records Show

Public records show that the man suspected of killing 22 people at a gay nightclub in Colorado tried to change his name more than six years ago. He seems to have been the target of online bullying months before the request.

Anderson Lee Aldrich, who is 22 years old and is charged with murder and hate crimes, used to go by the name Nicholas Brink until 2016. Records show that he asked a Texas court to change his name right before he turned 16.

The name change was first reported by The Washington Post. Online court documents did not give an official reason for the change. The Post said that his grandparents signed the paperwork.

The Post said that when Brink was 15, a website with photos of him was used to make fun of him. In his name, someone also made a YouTube account with an animation called “Asian homosexual gets molested.”

Records show that the petition to change the name was filed later in Bexar County, Texas. The shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs on Saturday, which killed five people, was still being looked into.

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Bar patrons tackled and beat the suspect, who was still in the hospital on Tuesday, during the attack that left 17 other people with gunshot wounds. Online court records showed that Aldrich is charged with five murders and five crimes motivated by bias that hurt people.

Monday night, hundreds of people gathered in a park in Colorado Springs, with many of them holding candles and wiping away tears. They were there to honor the victims of the attack on a nightclub that was a safe place for LGBTQ people for decades in the most conservative city of about 480,000 people 70 miles south of Denver.

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

“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.”

For a gunman to be charged with a hate crime, it would have to be shown that he was against the victims’ actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Preliminary charges have been brought against Aldrich, but prosecutors have not yet filed formal charges in court.

Prosecutors have asked that the court documents about Aldrich’s arrest be kept secret. There was no information right away about whether or not Aldrich had a lawyer.

Monday, local and federal authorities didn’t answer questions about why hate crime charges are being thought about. They said that the investigation was still going on. District Attorney Michael Allen said that the most severe punishment for murder would be life in prison, while bias crimes could lead to 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, adding that additional charges are possible.

On Monday, more information came out about the people who died and who is said to have stopped the shooting.

Two people in the club, including Richard Fierro, stopped the attack, according to the police. Fierro told reporters that he took Aldrich’s gun, hit him with it, and held him down with the help of another person.

Fierro, a former Army major who now owns a local brewery, said he was celebrating his birthday with family when the suspect “came in shooting.” Fierro said he ran at the suspect, who was wearing some kind of body armour, and pulled him down before severely beating him until police arrived.

Fierro said he didn’t know if the suspect had said anything to him when he had him under control. “I was cussing at him, I don’t care what he said to me. I’m going to see that guy in court, and he’s going to see who did him,” Fierro said.

Even though he saved lives, Fierro said that the deaths, which included the 22-year-old boyfriend of his daughter, were a tragedy for him and for the community as a whole.

“There are five people that I could not help, and one of which was family to me,” he said. In a statement, Vance’s family said that he was from Colorado Springs and that his family loved him. He had just started working at FedEx and hoped to save enough money to get his own apartment.

Authorities and family members named the other victims as Ashley Paugh, 35, a mother who helped find homes for foster children, Daniel Aston, 28, who worked at the club as a bartender and entertainer, Kelly Loving, 40, whose sister said she was “caring and sweet,” and Derrick Rump, 38, another club bartender who was known for his quick wit and treating his friends like family.

Police say that a second person, named Thomas James, also helped stop the shooting, but he has not yet spoken out. Fierro said that a third person also helped. He said that the suspect was kicked in the head by a performer at the club.

A police officer said that the suspect used a semi-automatic gun that looked like an AR-15. A handgun and more magazines of ammunition were also found. The official couldn’t talk about the investigation in public, so he or she spoke to the AP on the condition that they keep their identities secret.

The attack made people wonder why Aldrich’s guns were not taken away when he was arrested in 2021 because his mother said he had threatened her with a homemade bomb and other weapons.

Even though authorities said at the time that no explosives were found, gun-control advocates have asked why police didn’t use Colorado’s “red flag” laws to take away the weapons his mother says he had. There is no record of Aldrich ever being charged with a crime for kidnapping or threatening someone.

Monday on “CBS Mornings,” Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said that the shooting made him sad. “This is tragic, and it just feels like an evil person has come in and done something horrific in this community,” Vasquez said.

The attack on the nightclub was the sixth mass killing this month. It happened in the same year that 21 people were killed in a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. It also brought back memories of the 2016 killing of 49 people at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

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