On Saturday evening, a rifle-wielding man opened fire at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub, killing five and wounding dozens. On Sunday, a tweet from the White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre categorized the shooting as a hate crime:
Killed in the attack were bartenders Daniel Davis Aston, 28, and Derrick Rump, 38, and patrons Raymond Green Vance, 22; Ashley Paugh, 35; and Kelly Loving, 40.
Following President Joe Biden’s statement that intimated the shooting was a hate crime and the gunman was a conservative, a court filing revealed that the suspected gunman, 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, identifies as “non-binary,” and prefers “they/them pronouns.”
The court filing adds that parties should refer to Aldrich as “Mx. Aldrich,” a prefix commonly used by transgender, gender-nonconforming and nonbinary individuals.
Local cable news broadcaster Alisyn Camerota was the first to report on the court filing, which seems to undermine the narrative several mainstream media outlets have propagated.
The Tuesday evening revelation that the accused identifies as nonbinary and has preferred pronouns surprised and left a CNN anchor speechless during an interview that has gone viral.
News analyst Kevin Tober posted a clip of the interview on Twitter. The post has garnered 1.2 million views in 15 hours.
CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota said during the interview: “So, attorneys for the accused shooter, Anderson Lee Aldrich, say in new court filings tonight that the suspect now identifies as non-binary. I don’t know what to say about that. I mean, that’s not anything that we had heard from his background, you know people have been looking into his background.”
Camerota repeated: “I don’t know what to say about that, I don’t…I don’t know what to say about that.”
The surprising twist comes as prosecutors prepare to charge Aldrich with five counts of murder and five counts of bias-motivated crimes.
During the CNN interview, analyst Errol Lewis commented: “It sounds like they’re trying to prepare a defense against a hate crimes charge.”
The New York Post reported that Aldrich was arrested last year after threatening family members with a homemade explosive device. The Washington Post, CNN, and the Denver Gazette have reported on Aldrich’s troubled past.
The Washington Post reported that at 6 feet 4 and 260 pounds, Aldrich had a history of being “bullied” and “taunted” on various social media platforms.
The latest information leads some to assess Aldrich as a bullied person with a troubled past — one who grew up in a dysfunctional family, gravitated toward the LGBTQ+ community and now identifies as nonbinary.
Biden released the following statement on the shooting:
While no motive in this attack is yet clear, we know that the LGBTQI+ community has been subjected to horrific hate violence in recent years. Gun violence continues to have a devastating and particular impact on LGBTQI+ communities across our nation and threats of violence are increasing.
We saw it six years ago in Orlando, when our nation suffered the deadliest attack affecting the LGBTQI+ community in American history. We continue to see it in the epidemic of violence and murder against transgender women – especially transgender women of color. And tragically, we saw it last night in this devastating attack by a gunman wielding a long rifle at an LGBTQI+ nightclub in Colorado Springs.
Places that are supposed to be safe spaces of acceptance and celebration should never be turned into places of terror and violence. Yet it happens far too often. We must drive out the inequities that contribute to violence against LGBTQI+ people. We cannot and must not tolerate hate.
Today, yet another community in America has been torn apart by gun violence. More families left with an empty chair at the table and hole in their lives that cannot be filled. When will we decide we’ve had enough? We must address the public health epidemic of gun violence in all of its forms. Earlier this year, I signed the most significant gun safety law in nearly three decades, in addition to taking other historic actions. But we must do more. We need to enact an assault weapons ban to get weapons of war off America’s streets.
Today, Jill and I are praying for the families of the five people killed in Colorado Springs last night, and for those injured in this senseless attack.
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