Multiple reports on Monday state that the young man arrested for a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs on Saturday night is the grandson of a Republican state Assembly member from San Diego who publicly cheered the Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the U.S. Capitol.
Anderson Aldrich, 22, is charged in the suspected hate attack that killed five people and injured 25 others at Club Q, a popular Colorado Springs LGBTQ+ nightlife venue. His mother is reportedly Laura Voepel, the daughter of 72-year-old Randy Voepel, a feisty GOP assemblyman who alienated voters in eastern San Diego County when he lavished praise on the violent interruption of Congress’s meeting to certify results of the 2020 presidential election.
Aldrich, who burst into Club Q with a long rifle on Saturday night and opened fire on its staff and patrons, was eventually subdued by two customers at the club. He is being held in protective custody at a local hospital but details of his injuries were unavailable. El Paso County investigators say they are working to determine the motive of the mass shooting.
Aldrich’s name appeared on the El Paso sheriff’s blotter on June 18, 2021, when his mother reported him for threatening to harm her with multiple weapons and ammunition, including a homemade bomb. That incident forced a three-hour evacuation of residents in a southeast Colorado Springs neighborhood and ended when Aldrich surrendered to law enforcement and was booked on two counts of felony menacing and three counts of first-degree kidnapping. According to the Denver Gazette, no formal charges were pursued in the case, which is now sealed.
Howard Black, director of communications for Colorado’s 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office told the Gazette that the bomb threat incident is part of the investigation into Saturday’s mass shooting.
In early 2021, Aldrich’s grandfather, Assemblyman Voepel, texted a reporter amid the time of the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol, writing, “This is Lexington and Concord. First shots fired against tyranny. Tyranny will follow in the aftermath of the Biden swear-in on January 20,” the San-Diego Union-Tribune reported.
In April 2020, Laura Voepel praised her father in a Facebook post that said in part, “Keep up the work Dad—you work hard to improve our lives and a lot of us take notice.”
Asked in May what can be done to reduce gun violence, Voepel told the Editorial Board of the Union-Tribune, “Guns are not the problem. Just like the fork is not responsible for obesity.” In the face of constituent backlash over his comments, Assemblyman Voepel claimed his avowed support for the insurrection had been “misconstrued.” He lost his bid for re-election earlier this month.
The Q club had planned to hold a drag brunch and a drag show on Sunday for Transgender Day of Remembrance, CNN reports, though the club’s website now indicated that it will be closed until further notice. Drag events, from performances to events with drag queens reading to children, have increasingly been subject to frequent threats and attacks by right-wing media figures and activists.
A total of 18 victims from Saturday’s mass shooting were hospitalized, with at least seven of them in critical condition. Authorities say they will wait to release the names of those killed in the shooting until the families of the victims have been notified.
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