The 22-year-old accused of killing five and wounding 17 others at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ bar changed their name as a teenager to remove all links to their estranged dad, who by then appeared to be working as a porn actor.
The suspect is also non-binary, their defense attorney wrote in court filings Tuesday, revealing “they use they/them pronouns.”
Anderson Lee Aldrich, who is preliminarily charged with 10 criminal counts including first-degree murder, was born Nicholas Franklin Brink, according to court documents obtained by The Daily Beast. His biological father, Aaron Franklin Brink, left when Nicholas was a baby, according to a relative who asked not to be named publicly.
“Minor wishes to protect himself + his future from his birth father + his criminal history,” states a notarized affidavit filed in a Texas court almost exactly a month before Aldrich, still Nicholas Brink, turned 16. “Father has had no contact with minor for several years.”
The handwritten petition to change Aldrich’s name, dated April 2016, was filed in Bexar County, where they and their mother, Laura Voepel, were living at the time. It was signed by Voepel; Aldrich’s biological grandmother Pamela Pullen; step-grandfather Jonathan Pullen; and dad Aaron F. Brink, who was listed as living in San Diego County, California. The filing, which shows the Pullens had legal guardianship of Aldrich at the time, was first reported by The Washington Post.
Ramon Molina, a lawyer at the firm that handled the case, told The Daily Beast on Tuesday that nothing stood out as unusual about the petition and that “nobody here really remembers” Aldrich. A phone call on Tuesday to a number listed for Aaron Franklin Brink was answered by a man who declined to identify himself, then said Brink wasn’t there, and quickly hung up.
However, a family member said Voepel and Aldrich have “always had issues, a lot of problems,” and that Brink, 48, was “never involved with him, pretty much never around.” Voepel was booked in 2012 on an arson charge, which she later pleaded down to criminal mischief. Public records list a smattering of other non-violent arrests in Voepel’s past.
“I don’t want anything to do with that part of the family,” said the relative, who spoke to The Daily Beast on the condition of anonymity. “They’ve always had issues, a lot of problems… I’m totally disgusted by that side of the family right now.”
A few minutes before midnight on Nov. 19, Aldrich allegedly opened fire on patrons and staff at LGBTQ nightspot Club Q. Two heroic bystanders subdued the 6-foot-4, 260-pound Aldrich as they sprayed the room with bullets, preventing further carnage, Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said at a news conference. Aldrich was hospitalized with unspecified injuries after their arrest but was transferred to the El Paso County jail on Tuesday, authorities said.
Last year, Aldrich was arrested after cops said they threatened to blow up the Colorado Springs house where Voepel was renting a room. The charges were later dropped. On Monday, Colorado Springs District Attorney Michael J. Allen said state law forbade him from revealing further details of the case, or why Colorado’s red flag laws weren’t triggered by the episode, which would have meant seizing Aldrich’s guns. (The weapon used in the Club Q shooting was purchased legally, according to reports.)
“He should have at least gotten some sort of prison time,” Voepel’s landlord told The Daily Beast. “Those people did not have to die. It’s just very disappointing that the justice system did not follow through with what happened in my home last year.”
The name of Aldrich’s father on the name change petition and the California county in which he then resided match precisely with that of the porn star-turned-MMA fighter Aaron Brink, who also shares a middle name, Franklin, with the alleged shooter, according to public data and federal court records. (A woman who on Monday answered a phone number linked to Brink and identified herself as his girlfriend claimed that he did not have any children.)
Brink was sentenced to federal prison in 1996 for marijuana importation. He would then go on to establish a career as a mixed martial arts fighter when he was released in 1998. He soon linked up with MMA star and one-time mayor pro tempore of Huntington Beach, California, Tito Ortiz, a high school friend, who got him into the sport, USA Today’s MMA Junkie blog reported.
By 2003, Brink had some two dozen fights under his belt. But it was a bumpy ride. A couple of years earlier, Brink was sent back to prison on a parole violation after a conviction for assaulting Voepel, and a urinalysis turned up morphine and steroids in his system, according to court records.
Along the way, Brink stumbled into his Dick Delaware screen persona by accident, he told MMA Junkie in 2009.
“I met this porn producer,” he said. “I was fucking around with some girls at a party, and he noticed I was very gifted. He said, ‘Man, you’re a goddamn pro. If you get a test, I’ll put you in a scene.’ So I got into a few scenes. I was making some money. And it was through the porn world I got into meth.”
Brink filmed his first adult scene on Dec. 26, 2002, according to adult films trade publication XBiz.
“That day couldn’t have been any more nervewracking for me,” Brink told the outlet. “I was working with a chick named Candice Jackson, a Black chick. I’d never fucked a Black chick before.”
He established his own company, Dick Delaware Productions, and appeared in more than 300 films, including 2007’s Destination Tonsils, 2008’s Stimulus Package, 2014’s It’s OK to Put It in My Ass, and 2016’s White Boys Can Hump, according to IMDb.
However, drugs reportedly became Brink’s Achilles’ heel, and his porn career took a dive. In 2009, Brink appeared on the reality show Intervention after his then-wife lost patience with his meth use.
“I loved fucking chicks,” Brink told XBiz in 2007. “I loved speed. Problem was that the two are a horrible mix together. Forget the fact that I was a moody, angry man. What really pissed me off was that for so long I was fucking just for the money to get more drugs. And that wasn’t fair to the women I worked with back then. I could have fucked them so much better if I wasn’t such a drug addict.”
Brink eventually left MMA behind, with a professional record of 23-15-1. He was arrested on another parole violation in 2016.
The relative who spoke to The Daily Beast on Tuesday said that although she had plenty of reason to cut Voepel and Aldrich out of her life, she never thought it would end this way.
“I had no idea he would ever go this far,” she said. “I just don’t want them to think they can call on me for help [now], because I won’t be there.”
—With reporting by Rebecca Hopkins