Anderson Lee Aldrich, the suspected shooter in the Club Q nightclub shooting in Colorado Springs that killed five people, was raised in a troubled family with significant roots in Southern California.
To update: The suspect changed his name in 2016 to protect himself from his birth father, court records show
Aldrich’s father, Aaron Brink, was an Orange County mixed martial artist who for a time dabbled in pornography, battled his crystal methamphetamine addiction, and served time in federal prison for smuggling marijuana. His mother, Laura Voepel, had some minor streaks with the law and was once arrested on suspicion of arson.
Court records show the couple divorced in Orange County in September 2001, when Aldrich was just one year old. At that time, Voepel obtained a court order that prohibited any contact between Brink and his son. After the divorce, Voepel received full custody of their son and in the years that followed moved to Texas with their baby, where she temporarily lived with the boy’s maternal grandmother, the Washington Post reported.
Additionally, Aldrich’s maternal grandfather is outgoing Assemblyman Randy Voepel, whose district includes Anza, Idyllwild, Pine Cove, and Valle Vista in Riverside County and much of San Diego County.
Randy Voepel, who did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday, drew attention when he compared the January 6 attack on the Capitol to the Revolutionary War.
“This is Lexington and Concord. First shots fired against tyranny,” he said, according to the San Diego Union Tribune. “Once Biden is sworn in on January 20, tyranny will follow.”
Voepel later tried to retract his comments by tweeting a statement that read, in part, “I condone or support the violence and lawlessness that took place in our nation’s capital on Wednesday, January 6th. The loss of life, theft of state property and blatant disregard for law and order are reprehensible and unnecessary.”
Public records show that Aldrich was so keen to break away from his father’s criminal and controversial background that he changed his name at the age of 15.
Aldrich, who was born Nicholas Franklin Brink on May 20, 2000 in San Diego, appeared before a judge in Bexar County, Texas on April 16, 2016, requesting that his name be changed to Anderson Lee Aldrich. Judge Barbara Nellermoe granted the petition, court filings show.
The petition, obtained Tuesday by Southern California News Group, said the reason for the name change was “to protect himself and his future from ties to his birth father and criminal past.” It said Aldrich had not had contact with his biological father for several years.
At the time, Aldrich was living with his grandparents, his legal guardians, at their home in San Antonio. His two grandparents, his mother and father signed the petition. The petition also noted a previous Riverside court order regarding a legal guardianship matter involving the boy.
Public records show that a man with the same name as Aaron Brink was arrested extensively in at least three states and that Laura Voepel had lived in Riverside County, including Lake Elsinore, Murrieta and Temecula, during the 2000s. From 2008 to 2011, Voepel faced multiple misdemeanor charges in Riverside County, court records show.
Public records show that Voepel resided in Murrieta from October 2005 to September 2009.
Monica Gutierrez, a spokeswoman for the Murrieta Valley Unified School District, said in an email Tuesday that the district’s student database dates back only to the 2008-09 school year and no records for that school year or after match the name Nicholas Franklin Brink.
But Gutierrez couldn’t say Tuesday if Brink had attended any of the district’s schools in previous years.
However, Claremont resident Shaun Coast said he remembers attending Buchanan Elementary School with Brink in the 2005-06 school year. The two also attended Tutor Time of Murrieta, an after-school daycare center on Margarita Road.
He remembers Brink as a chubby, playful, imaginative and wild boy. In other words: normal.
“You wouldn’t really think that boy committed a shooting. But you don’t think that of a 6-year-old,” said Coast, 24. “He seemed just like any other kid. He didn’t strike me as someone who cared.”
He said Brink stopped attending kindergarten about halfway through the school year.
Aldrich, 22, was arrested early Sunday morning on suspicion of killing five people and injuring 18 others at Club Q in Colorado Springs. He allegedly walked into the gay and lesbian club and opened fire minutes before Transgender Remembrance Day began.
Club guests attacked and overpowered Aldrich. One beat him bloody with his own gun, police said.
Aldrich was released from the hospital Tuesday and sent to the El Paso County Jail, Colorado Springs police said. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance via video from prison on Wednesday morning, November 23.
Aldrich’s father, Aaron Brink, told MMA Junkie in a 2009 interview that he was a 12-stepper battling his addiction to crystal meth, that growing up in Huntington Beach, he got kicked out of Huntington Beach High School for fighting and from 1989 to 1992 he had been in and out of the juvenile detention center eight times for various offences.
In 1996, according to federal court filings, Brink was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison on Terminal Island for smuggling marijuana into the country.
Online court records show he faced at least four criminal charges in San Diego County, though the records don’t name the charges. He was found guilty in Orange County from 2011 to 2016 of drunk driving, prosecution and possession of a controlled substance. He was also charged with a felony, although online court filings show neither the charges nor the injunction.
Riverside County court records show that Voepel faced a series of legal issues from 2008 to 2011. In 2008, she was found guilty of filing a false report with the police, a misdemeanor, and sentenced to three years’ probation. That same year she was indicted and subsequently convicted of negligent public drunkenness and given a three-year suspended sentence.
The status of two offenses charged against Voepel in 2011 – driving under the influence and under the influence of controlled substances – was unclear. The court’s website lists her as “active” and also shows that Voepel had four arrest warrants issued against her from June 2008 to April 2022. One of the reasons was failure to appear in court.
According to the Washington Post, Voepel was arrested when her son was 12 on alleged arson charges in San Antonio, Texas, but was later convicted of a lesser misdemeanor.
The Denver Post contributed to this report.