According to a developing picture of the alleged gunman put together by CNN, the suspect in the mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado had a turbulent upbringing in which he was bullied as a teenager and temporarily raised by his grandmother.
According to court documents and a family member interview, Anderson Lee Aldrich ended up in his grandmother’s custody as his mother battled a string of arrests and associated mental health evaluations.
CNN requested an interview with the suspect’s grandmother, who a relative claimed was his primary caregiver.
When Aldrich’s mother called the police last year, alleging that he had threatened to harm her with a homemade bomb, their relationship seemed tense.
Questions remain regarding how Aldrich escaped prosecution in a matter that could have ultimately barred him from lawfully possessing a weapon if convicted. No charges were brought, and the case has since been sealed.
A little more than a year after the bomb threat incident, Aldrich is accused of opening fire at Club Q in Colorado Springs, inflicting more than a dozen injuries in addition to the five fatalities.
According to an online docket in the El Paso County Court, Aldrich, 22, is charged with five counts of first-degree murder and five counts of a crime motivated by bias that results in bodily harm. The 6’4″, 260-pound suspect was subdued by clubgoers during the attack and taken to the hospital for treatment of undisclosed wounds.
The son of Laura Voepel and Aaron Brink, who wed in 1999, Aldrich was born Nicholas Brink in May of 2000. Both parents were unavailable for comment. In Orange County, California, his father filed for divorce in September 2001, citing irreconcilable differences. He asked the court to give Voepel sole physical custody in his initial petition, but he also asked for legal custody and visitation rights. In a 2007 court document, Voepel claimed that her son had not spoken to his father.
According to court records, interviews, and a media website, Aldrich’s father was a mixed martial arts fighter and a porn actor who served time in federal prison for smuggling marijuana.
Brink admitted guilt to a misdemeanor domestic battery charge in 1999, about a year before Aldrich was born, and was given a suspended sentence, according to the San Diego County Superior Court. According to federal court records, Voepel, who was referred to as his girlfriend, was the victim in that incident.
In 2007, Voepel, the daughter of Randy Voepel, an assemblyman from California, was given complete legal and physical custody of her son. Voepel stated in court documents that she was unemployed, engaged, and expecting a new child in addition to Aldrich, who was six years old at the time. This information was provided in May of that year.
In 2009, Aldrich’s mother was sentenced to three years of probation after being found guilty of both public intoxication and making a false police report. The 2008 incident in Murrieta, California, where police were called to a reported home invasion and discovered Voepel lying on her bed with her hands and legs bound with duct tape, is what led to the false report conviction. Voepel initially told police that a man had bound her with tape, strung a knife across her chest, and tied her up with string. She later admitted, however, that she had been high and had made up the incident because “she was lonely and wanted attention,” according to a police report.
According to court records CNN was able to obtain, Voepel received court-ordered mental health treatment resulting from those cases in Riverside County, California in 2010.
According to a police report, she allegedly started a fire in her room at the Baptist Medical Center in San Antonio in 2012 using a lighter. According to the police report, security footage proved that Voepel was the only person in her room when the fire started, despite her initial denials. Voepel was eventually saved by a hospital employee.
Records show that a licensed psychologist came to the conclusion that she had severe alcoholism and borderline personality disorder among other problems. She was initially charged with arson, but in August 2013, she pleaded no contest to a lesser offense of criminal mischief. She received a five-year community supervision sentence.