Attorneys for Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, said the accused mass shooter was nonbinary in several court filings Tuesday night — a twist that was reported by broadcaster Alisyn Camerota on the cable news network.
“So, attorneys for the accused shooter, Anderson Lee Aldrich, say in new court filings tonight that the suspect now identifies as non-binary,” Camerota said – then continued to refer to Aldrich using male pronouns.
“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,” she continues.
“I don’t know what to say about that, I mean, that’s what he’s now saying,” the anchor repeats, stunned.
The gender identity reveal came after various news outlets reported that Aldrich’s granddad Randy Voepel was a former state lawmaker who made comments backing the Jan. 6 Capitol rioters, with Newsweek and others calling him a “MAGA Republican.”
“Watch in real time as CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota sees her network’s narrative on the Colorado Springs gay night club shooting come crashing down,” tweeted Kevin Tober of NewsBusters.
Other commenters chimed in on the apparent “misgendering.”
“Imagine any other scenario when not taking someone at their word on their pronouns wouldn’t be called bigotry by this same crew,” one Twitter user replied.
“Their disappointment is palpable,” said another.
“Um excuse me? He?! It clearly says they/them and they are ignoring the requested pronouns! Where is the outrage?” one person tweeted.
“Sooooooooo… you get to pick and choose when to believe the pronouns or what exactly?” another wrote.
Aldrich, who reportedly uses they/them pronouns, allegedly stormed into a drag night event hosted by the club and indiscriminately opened fire with an AR-15-style rifle until they were subdued by a pair of brave patrons, police said.
Bartenders Daniel Davis Aston, 28, and Derrick Rump, 38, were slain in the attack, along with Raymond Green Vance, 22, Ashley Paugh, 35, and Kelly Loving, 40.
The suspect appeared dazed in court from jail for the first time Wednesday by video.
“It sounds like they’re trying to prepare a defense against a hate crimes charge,” CNN political analyst Errol Lewis responds to the revelation in the clip, which has been viewed over 1 million times.
“That’s the least of his problems, legally speaking, but it looks like they’re trying to build some kind of sympathy or at least confusion on the question of whether or not this was purely motivated by hate,” Lewis speculated.
Aldrich, who was arrested last year after allegedly threatening their mother with a homemade bomb, was born Nicholas Brink to parents Laura Voepel and Aaron Brink.
Voepel, who was awarded custody of Aldrich after their 2007 divorce, is the daughter of California Assemblyman Randy Voepel.
In 2010, the mom underwent court-ordered mental health treatment after being arrested for public intoxication and falsely reporting a crime to police in 2008, CNN reported.
A psychologist diagnosed Voepel with severe borderline personality disorder and alcohol dependence after she was accused of starting a fire in her hospital room in 2012, the outlet said.
Aldrich, who is 6 feet 4 and 260 pounds, was reportedly bullied over their weight and was taunted on a Wikipedia parody website in 2015 that was filled with offensive slurs, according to the Washington Post.
Nicholas Brink legally changed their name to Anderson Lee Aldrich later that year, just before turning 16, the newspaper reported.
A petition was submitted by their grandparents in Bexar County, Texas, who had legal custody of their grandchild at the time.