Police and reporters are beginning to learn more about the suspect in the mass shooting at Club Q, a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, on Saturday night that left at least five people dead and many more injured.
Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, faces five murder charges and five hate crime charges, . In Colorado, judges can order the seizure of weapons for between 14 days and six months, and can extend those orders in six-month increments, the report noted.
Colorado Springs has long been a hub for right-wing activism. In 2019, El Paso County’s commissioners voted unanimously to support a “2nd amendment preservation resolution” indicating they would fight the law, which was then a legislative proposal, in court but would support its enforcement. Sheriff Bill Elder said similarly that deputies would enforce the law, but predicted incorrectly that “under a constitutional challenge, it would get overturned.” According to The Associated Press, there were 13 temporary firearm removals in El Paso County through the end of last year, including four that lasted at least six months.
The Suspect’s Grandfather Is Reportedly A MAGA Lawmaker
Aldrich’s grandfather is reportedly Randy Voepel, a right-wing legislator in the California state Assembly who has voiced opposition to marriage equality in the past, and who initially celebrated the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
Heavy.com and The Gazette have both reported the familial relation, the first based on social media postings from the suspect’s mother, the latter based on an unnamed relative of the family. Voepel’s Twitter bio describes him as a “Husband. Grandfather. Veteran.”
Voepel did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
“This is Lexington and Concord. First shots fired against tyranny,” Voepel told The San Diego Union-Tribune in an article published Jan. 9, 2021, just days after the riot at the U.S. Capitol. “Tyranny will follow in the aftermath of the Biden swear in on January 20th.”
He subsequently said he did not support the violence and “lawlessness” at the Capitol, but that the attack was “a sign of the deep division currently facing our nation.”
Voepel said at one point that he was leaving the Republican Party to become an independent because his views were more in line with the Tea Party movement. After redistricting changes put him in the same Assembly district as fellow Republican Marie Waldron, Voepel was defeated by a 35-point margin in the GOP primary election this year.
In 2015, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples had the legal right to marry, Voepel, who was then mayor of Santee and a candidate for the California state Assembly, said at a California Republican Assembly meeting, “Personally I’m a Southern Baptist. I do not support gay marriage in a biblical way but it’s the law of the land.” He added the decision might have been stopped if more Christians had stood up, according to East County Magazine.
“Personally I’m a Southern Baptist. I do not support gay marriage in a biblical way but it’s the law of the land.”
– Randy Voepel, a California state legislator and reportedly the Colorado Springs gunman’s grandfather, in 2015.
Santee, a suburban city outside of San Diego, has earned the nickname “Klantee” in reference to a history of racially motivated attacks and other incidents, the Union-Tribune reported, including in 2020 when a man went grocery shopping with a white Ku Klux Klan hood on. Voepel criticized the nickname in 2015: “I say no, we’re the La Jolla of East County.”
Santee was also the site of a school shooting while Voepel was mayor. Randy Gordon, 17, and Bryan Zuckor, 14, were killed and 13 others were wounded in a March 5, 2001, attack at Santana High School, according to the Los Angeles Times. Charles Andrew Williams, 15 at the time of the shooting, pleaded guilty to murder and attempted murder and was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison for the attack, though the sentence was later reduced to 25 years, San Diego’s ABC affiliate reported.
“This is the class not only of 2001 but March 5,” Voepel said at the high school’s graduation ceremony. “The whole school will always be the class of March 5.”