The man charged Monday in the killings of five people and injuring of several others during a shooting rampage at a Colorado Springs gay bar is believed to be the grandson of Assemblyman Randy Voepel, R- Santee, according to multiple media reports.
Police said the alleged gunman, 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, opened fire inside Club Q just before midnight Saturday. Police have not released a suspected motive for the attack. He is facing murder and hate crime charges.
Voepel’s office has not commented on the relationship, though multiple media outlets reported that Aldrich’s mother is Laura Voepel, daughter of Assemblyman Randy Voepel, who has represented the 71st district since 2016 and previously served as mayor of Santee. He made headlines after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, comparing the assault to the American Revolution and the start of a war on tyranny.
Randy Voepel ran for the 75th District this year but he was handily defeated by incumbent and fellow Republican Marie Waldron.
Colorado Springs Police Department Chief Adrian Vasquez said the gunman began firing on a crowd of people inside the club, before he was taken down by at least two patrons, preventing further casualties. He was arrested about five minutes after the shooting began.
In addition to the rifle allegedly used in the attack, Colorado Springs police said multiple other firearms were found at the scene.
“Law enforcement is still working to identify who the firearms belonged to,” according to a department statement.
Aldrich was also arrested by police last year for allegedly making a bomb threat, resulting in a standoff with police in Colorado Springs.
According to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, Aldrich’s mother told police her son was threatening her “with a homemade bomb, multiple weapons, and ammunition.”
Aldrich initially refused to surrender, but eventually was taken into custody. No explosives were found by police, who arrested him on suspicion of felony menacing and first-degree kidnapping. Media outlets reported that prosecutors did not move forward with charging Aldrich in connection with the incident.
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria took to Twitter to offer condolences and to reiterate that the city was a welcoming place for all people.
“San Diego grieves for the lives taken by another mass shooting, this time in Colorado Springs,” he wrote. “@SanDiegoPD and I are in close communication with the community to ensure safety for all, esp on Transgender Day of Remembrance. Let me be clear: there is no place for hate in our city.”
San Diego Pride’s executive director Fernando Lopez said the LGBTQ community would stand strong and resolute in the face of hate and increasing vitriolic rhetoric against the community.
“We are heartbroken, devastated, and outraged that our community at Club Q in Colorado Springs, a local LGBTQ nightclub, was the most recent target of a mass shooting as gun violence again shatters our safe spaces,” he said. “Violence against the LGBTQ community has been on the rise for years, particularly against our transgender and drag family. There is a direct line between the growing anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and this recent attack.
“To receive this news in the early morning hours of Transgender Day of Remembrance is particularly painful, as we understand that LGBTQ people are more than twice as likely to be a victim of gun violence than our cisgender and straight peers, and nearly 8 in 10 homicides of Black trans women are by a gun, Lopez said. “LGBTQ people deserve to live our lives free from violence and hate. We send love and strength to our LGBTQ siblings in Colorado Springs and support to the families and loved ones of the victims. We will continue to fight for our right to live and love freely, without fear.”
Updated at 11 a.m. Nov. 21, 2022
–City News Service