The person accused of killing five people in a mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub had previously changed their name after being the subject of intense online harassment.
On Saturday night, Club Q, an LGBTQ dance club in Colorado Springs, erupted into violence as a person armed with a rifle entered the establishment and began firing. At the end of the bloodshed, five people were dead and dozens more were injured. The shooter was subdued and beaten by the patrons who took their weapon and hit them with it. When police arrived they arrested Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22.
Little was known at first about the suspect initially, but that has changed significantly after it was learned they had changed their name. We now know the alleged killer, was the subject of online trolling by a notorious edgelord site, had his retired porn actor father believe he was dead for years, frequently used anti-gay slurs, and has requested to use they/them pronouns (although some warn this may be a troll.)
The Washington Post reports that in 2016 the shooter petitioned courts to change their name to Anderson Lee Aldrich. They did not state a reason. The shooter, through their lawyer, has requested his pronouns be “they/them” in the coming court proceedings. There has been no other indication that the shooter used gender-neutral pronouns or identified as trans before this request. Trans activists have warned people to be wary of the possibility this may be a troll.
Since 2015, one year before the name change request, the shooter has had an entry on Encyclopedia Dramatica, a site that does intentionally offensive and overly edgy Wikipedia-style entries about internet figures. The entry accuses the shooter of pedophilia and included their real name and photo. The site is infamous for its online bullying and trolling. The site's users' treatment and obsession with their subjects are similar to Kiwi Farms, an online forum thrust into the spotlight earlier this year for their harassment of online trans figures. The page for the shooter is still up as well as its previous iterations which date back to 2015, when they were a teenager
“HOLY SHIT THIS GUY HAD AN ED ARTICLE FOR YEARS AND SHOT UP A GAY BAR BECAUSE HE WAS TIRED OF ALL THE "HARRASSMENT"!!!” the header now reads.
“It wasn't our fault, we swear!” reads the website.
This isn’t the first time the website has been connected to violence. In 2017 one of the site's mods killed two people and then himself at a New Mexico high school. Alek Minassian, an incel who killed 11 (9 were women) and injured many more in a Toronto van attack, told his defense lawyer that he was “inspired” by an article on the website about mass killer's “high scores.”
The Daily Beast reported a neighbor who lived in the same apartment building and once considered the shooter a friend told them that the shooter would often use anti-gay slurs in a hateful way,
“He said things sometimes that probably should have been alarming to me. He used the term “f*****t” a lot. Most of the time it came from a place of anger,” Xavier Kraus told the outlet.
Kraus said that the shooter loved his weapons and enjoyed going to the gun range. Kraus told the outlet that one time the shooter referred to shooting a woman he was upset with.
Yesterday the shooter’s father spoke publicly for the first time. He told a local news outlet that the shooter’s mother called him and told him that his son had died by suicide in 2016. He only learned that his son was alive six months ago.
“I thought he was dead. I mourned his loss. I had gone through a meltdown and thought I had lost my son,” Aaron Brink told CBS 8.
Brink, a former MMA fighter and porn star, who has been featured on reality shows such as Intervention said that his son came back into his life six months ago when he called to argue. Brink said his family is Mormon and that he questioned why his son was at Club Q in the first place because “Mormons don’t do gay.” When he learned of the killings he was shocked and said “there's no excuse for going and killing people.”
The alleged shooter had previous run-ins with the law, primarily in 2021 when they were arrested for an alleged bomb threat that forced the evacuation of the neighborhood. Video provided to the Denver Post from this arrest shows them with weapons and body armor threatening police.
“This is your boy,” the shooter says in the video. “I’ve got the fucking shitheads outside. The fucking shitheads have their rifles out and if they breach I’m going to fucking blow this to holy hell. So go ahead and come on in, boys.”
The motive of the shooting is still not known but it comes at a time when anti-LGBTQ rhetoric is reaching a fever pitch in the U.S. and attacks on LGBTQ communities are becoming more frequent. Drag Queen events are routinely disrupted with violence by far-right agitators, childrens hospitals have been targeted by bomb threats because of them offering gender affirming health care, and pride centres have been vandalized.
The deaths of multiple people in a gay night club didn’t cause even the briefest of pauses in the anti-LGBTQ machine which has continued to roll. In defiance of criticism of their actions in the light of a mass killing of LGBTQ folks, the anti-LGBTQ right has doubled down. Tucker Carlson had a guest who blamed trans people’s “evil agenda” for the shooting at Club Q. They've attacked their critics, pushed forward with describing drag shows as pedophilic grooming events,and some in the far-right have even taken to attacking the hero, an army veteran, who stopped the shooter.