The suspect behind the fatal shooting which claimed the lives of five people at a gay nightclub in Colorado over the weekend identifies as non-binary, his defence team has said.
New details have come to light about the suspect, including reports that he threatened to harm his mother with a homemade bomb and other weapons last year, prompting her to call the police.
While no charges were filed, and the case was sealed, questions remain about how the suspect avoided being prosecuted in a matter which may have stopped him from legally possessing a weapon had he been convicted.
The suspect, named as biological male Anderson Lee Aldrich (22), uses they/them pronouns and is non-binary, according to court papers filed, which refer to the suspect as ‘Mx Aldrich’.
Aldrich was taken into custody after five people died and at least 25 others were injured at Club Q, an “adult-orientated gay and lesbian nightclub” in Colorado Springs on Saturday night. The suspect was stopped from killing further by patrons at the nightclub, who subdued him into submission by grabbing the gun from him and beating him with it.
Aldrich, who received hospital treatment for undisclosed injuries, now faces now counts of first-degree murder and five counts of a bias-motivated crime causing bodily injury, according to legal documents in the El Paso County Coury.
The motive of the killings is still under investigation, yet the revelation that the suspect identifies as non-binary comes after several days where campaigners and media had blamed the shooting on what they called ‘anti-lgbt hate’.
An Op-Ed published in The Guardian on Tuesday accused the US right of “stoking anti-lgbt hate”, with the author describing the attack as “no surprise”.
“What happened in Colorado Springs this weekend was part of a trend of escalating violence targeting gay spaces, and drag shows in particular,” Moira Donegan penned, adding: ‘Like most bigots, homophobes know little about the groups they target, and their hatred doesn’t hew to logic.’
While USA Today told its readers: “Forget thoughts and prayers: Colorado Springs shooting is what comes from anti-LGBTQ hate”.
“What did you think was going to happen? Did you think all that hate would just drift up into the ether? Did you think, in a country filled with guns and rage, it was all just harmless talk?” an op-ed published in the wake of the shootings read.
Democratic politician and activist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was also among those to blame the shooting on anti-lgbt rhetoric. She was responding to Republican Congresswoman and gun rights activist Lauren Boebert, who said the victims and families of the “absolutely awful” attack were in her prayers.
“You have played a major role in elevating anti-LGBT+ hate rhetoric and anti-trans lies while spending your time in Congress blocking even the most common sense gun safety laws,” she said in a tweet which garnered over 276,000 likes. “You don’t get to “thoughts and prayers” your way out of this. Look inward and change”.
.@laurenboebert you have played a major role in elevating anti-LGBT+ hate rhetoric and anti-trans lies while spending your time in Congress blocking even the most common sense gun safety laws.
You don’t get to “thoughts and prayers” your way out of this. Look inward and change. https://t.co/mxt6wFMVEv
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 20, 2022
Others, however, including Republican nominee Lavern Spicer, were quick to denounce the New York Congresswoman for the attack on Boebert, who has spoken out against the transitioning of minors. “You should be ashamed,” Spicer told the Democrat congresswoman
You are pure and utter trash to attack a woman who had nothing to do with this awful attack.
Lauren has never advocated for violence against anyone.
She has spoken out against the transitioning of minors and the sexualization of children in schools.
You should be ashamed, AOC.
— Lavern Spicer 🇺🇸 (@lavern_spicer) November 20, 2022
Some have expressed incredulity that the shooter could in fact identify as non-binary as court papers claim, with one CNN anchor left speechless.
BREAKING: CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota left speechless after reporting live on-air the Colorado shooter is non-binary pic.twitter.com/lRGbybLPHp
— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) November 23, 2022
However, right-wing political commentator and author Matt Walsh said that those on the left who immediately blamed Republicans and critics of trans ideology for the deadly shooting, should now accept the shooter is non-binary as they have set their own precedent.
“Sorry but if you’re on the Left then you have no right to deny the shooter’s non-binary identity. You set a precedent here and we will hold you to it. You have to respect his identity. I don’t. You do. These are your rules.” he said, adding:
“Your rules are clear: ALL self-identities are valid and cannot be questioned, ever, under any circumstances. Again: your rules. You are stuck with this. The shooter is non-binary. You have no choice but to accept it. Sorry”.
Sorry but if you're on the Left then you have no right to deny the shooter's non-binary identity. You set a precedent here and we will hold you to it. You have to respect his identity. I don't. You do. These are your rules. Now take your medicine and shut up.
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) November 23, 2022