When mass shooting suspect Anderson Lee Aldrich pulled up last year to the home in Colorado Springs where his mom was living, Laura Voepel herded her two dogs into their crate and scrambled outside to help her son with his suitcase.
As the two headed back toward the front door, Aldrich, 21, could be heard saying in security camera footage obtained by The Daily Beast, “Today I die. That’s what happens. They don’t give a fuck about me anymore. Really.”
Moments earlier, as her son arrived, Voepel could be seen on security video in her kitchen, talking on the phone.
“Mom, Andy’s out front, uh, going crazy,” she said. “What’s going on? Please, answer the phone, call me. Help.”
In a separate video from that day, which was livestreamed to Facebook by Voepel and provided to The Daily Beast by a source close to the family, Aldrich can be seen inside, wandering from room to room, in a tactical helmet, bulletproof vest, and carrying a long black object in his hands.
“This is your boy,” Aldrich says, amped up and breathing heavily. “I’ve got the shitheads outside, look at that. They’ve got a bead on me… They’ve got their fuckin’ rifles out. If they breach, I’ma fuckin’ blow it to holy hell. So, uh, go ahead and come on in, boys! Let’s fuckin’ see it!”
Three hours later, Aldrich surrendered to heavily armed police who descended on the neighborhood after Voepel called 911 and said her son was “threatening to cause harm to her with a homemade bomb, multiple weapons, and ammunition,” according to a press release issued at the time by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. Aldrich was booked on two counts of felony menacing and three counts of first-degree kidnapping, but cops said at the time they never found any explosives and Aldrich was never formally charged.
Just before midnight on Saturday, a man identified by authorities as Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, walked into Club Q, an LGBTQ nightspot in Colorado Springs, and allegedly opened fire. Five people died in the attack, and 25 were injured.
On Monday, Aldrich was preliminarily charged with five counts of first-degree murder and five counts of bias-motivated crimes causing bodily injury, according to court records first reported by the Colorado Springs Gazette. District Attorney Michael Allen later said the charges filed Monday will likely be updated when formal charges are eventually filed with the court. Once Aldrich is released from the hospital, where he is recovering from unspecified injuries, he will appear before a judge by video, and will not be eligible for bail, according to Allen.
“The devastation this violent act has had on our community cannot be measured,” Allen said.
Aldrich was subdued and held down by “at least two heroic people inside the club” until officers arrived, Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said at a press conference Sunday.
Authorities have not confirmed that the Aldrich arrested for the Club Q attack is the same person arrested over the bomb threat. However, a federal law-enforcement official confirmed to The Washington Post that both men share an identical birth date. Additionally, a spokesman for the District Attorney’s Office said the bomb threat incident would be “part of” the Club Q investigation, according to the Gazette.
At a press conference on Monday afternoon, Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez identified each victim by name, along with their preferred pronouns: Kelly Loving, she/her; Daniel Aston, he/him; Derrick Rump, he/him; Ashley Paugh, she/her; and Raymond Green Vance, he/him.
Vasquez called for a moment of silence, saying, “As I end, I ask that everyone in our community and around the world honor each victim.”
Vasquez then acknowledged the “heroic actions” of Thomas James and Richard Fierro, the performer and patron who subdued Aldrich and have been credited with preventing further bloodshed.
Aldrich’s grandfather—Voepel’s father—is Randy Voepel, a so-called MAGA Republican in Southern California who lost his state assembly seat this year after being primaried by a more moderate female candidate.
In an interview with The Daily Beast on Monday, Leslie Bowman said she rented a room in her house to Laura Voepel, who had sent her son to live with his grandparents nearby. She described Aldrich as mostly pretty quiet and not very social, which she said she chalked up to his being a young adult male.
Voepel, whose record shows past arrests for DUI, public intoxication, criminal mischief, and arson, occasionally had Aldrich over for visits. Bowman remembered them as largely uneventful, save one instance prior to the bomb threat when Aldrich became infuriated over a broken commode, Bowman recalled.
Voepel had called Bowman earlier in the day to tell her that something was wrong with the toilet, she said. However, Bowman had been gone all day and was tired, so she said she’d fix it in the morning. As the two argued about the situation, Aldrich suddenly inserted himself in the situation, according to Bowman.
“I was standing at her bedroom door and Andy got very angry and stepped up to me and said, ‘Get out,’ and slammed the door in my face,” she said.
During the alleged bomb threat incident on June 18, 2021, Bowman said Voepel texted her and said not to come home, to stay safe, that something was wrong, that police were “all around” Voepel’s parents’ house as well as Bowman’s and that Voepel needed to make sure “they’re not coming here for my son.”
In July 2021, the month after Aldrich was arrested, Voepel posted a plea in a Mormon women’s Facebook group, asking for help finding a lawyer.
“Hello Sisters,” she wrote. “Does anyone know of a fantastic defense attorney? I ask this with a heavy heart but my family really needs some help at this time. We have cash to retain good counsel. Thank you.”
There were other clues that all was not right in Aldrich’s world.
In Feb. 2022, Voepel posted again to the group, asking if anyone could “please recommend a great trauma/ptsd therapist?” for her 21-year-old son.
“Is he LDS?” one of the others replied. “He is but not completely active,” Voepel wrote back. “His symptoms keep him from doing a lot.”
Other messages Voepel posted tended toward the mundane, at one point asking group members if someone could donate a fan to her son, whose air conditioner wasn’t working properly but didn’t “have any cash.”
In May, Voepel posted a new request.
“Can anybody refer my son to a private boxing coach?” she asked. “He’s 6’6” tall and hits like a freight train. Cannot find a good gym or anyone serious. He has made huge life changes and needs this!”
Voepel was supposed to move out shortly after the 2021 bomb threat incident, but Bowman said she asked her to leave immediately. The two lost touch after that, and Bowman put the incident behind her, she said. Then, about a month ago, police showed up at Bowman’s home, saying they were there to do a wellness check on Voepel. Bowman told the officers that Voepel had moved out in 2021, and that she hadn’t heard from her since.
Curiosity piqued, Bowman looked up Aldrich’s case online and saw that it had been sealed and the charges dropped.
“But then yesterday morning, when I woke up, and I saw the news and I saw the DA announced his name, it was shocking and horrifying,” Bowman told The Daily Beast on Monday. “Then I just got angry at the charges being dropped and him being out. He should have at least gotten some sort of prison time. Those people did not have to die. It’s just very disappointing that the justice system did not follow through with what happened in my home last year.”
At Monday afternoon’s press conference, Allen, the district attorney, was asked why “red flag” laws didn’t trigger a seizure of Aldrich’s guns by authorities after his arrest over the bomb threat. The rifle used in the Club Q shooting was purchased legally, according to reports.
“The red flag question is something that I think none of us up here are in a position to answer,” Allen said. “Colorado has very restrictive sealing laws. What that means is that if a case is filed in a courtroom in the State of Colorado, and is dismissed for any reason… it is automatically sealed. That is a change in the law that occurred back in 2019. That same statute requires us to give very specific answers… to say in responded to questions about it that ‘no such record exists.’”