The gunman who opened fire in a queer club in Colorado Springs over the weekend is the grandson of a California MAGA Republican lawmaker, multiple media outlets reported Monday.
Anderson Lee Aldrich has been arrested for entering Club Q and shooting at clubgoers Saturday night, killing five people and wounding at least 25 others. Two patrons managed to stop him, taking his gun and hitting him with it to subdue him.
“It has the trappings of a hate crime, but we are going to have to see what the investigation shows…to make a clear determination exactly what the motive was,” Colorado Springs mayor John Suthers said Monday.
Early reports indicate that Aldrich is the grandson of outgoing MAGA Republican California Assemblyman Randy Voepel.
Voepel drew serious condemnation last year, including calls for his removal from office, over his support for the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. “This is Lexington and Concord. First shots fired against tyranny,” Voepel told The San Diego Union-Tribune three days after the riot. “Tyranny will follow in the aftermath of the Biden swear-in on January 20th.”
This is not Aldrich’s first instance of violence. A year and a half prior to the shooting, he allegedly threatened his mother, Voepel’s daughter, with a homemade bomb. Neighbors had to evacuate while the bomb squad and crisis negotiators talked him down.
But there is no public record that he was charged with anything, nor that police or relatives tried to trigger Colorado’s “red flag” law that would have allowed authorities to seize any weapons or ammunition he had.
Had that law been triggered, it might have helped prevent Saturday night’s tragedy.
Aldrich is reportedly also a Mormon, a community with a long and fraught history of prejudice against LGBTQ people. Although the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints recently backed the marriage equality bill—which is headed to a final vote in the Senate—that support may be too little, too late.
It comes only a year after senior apostle Jeffrey R. Holland gave an inflammatory speech urging the Brigham Young University faculty and staff to take up metaphorical muskets in defense of their faith—including against same-sex relationships and marriage.