The Colorado Springs shooting suspect changed his name at age 15 after being subjected to a vitriolic online bullying campaign, according to reports.
Anderson Aldrich, 22, was arrested on Monday on suspicion of five counts of first-degree murder after he allegedly opened fire moments after entering the LGBT+ venue Club Q on Saturday night.
A review of birth and court records by several media outlets have shed light on Mr Aldrich’s troubled childhood, in which his mother Laura Voepel had several run-ins with authorities.
The suspect’s parents Aaron and Laura Brink (nee Voepel) divorced when he was a toddler and he grew up in San Antonio, Texas, The Washington Post reported.
His mother was arrested when he was 12 years old on suspected arson charges. These were later downgraded to less serious charges, the Post found.
A Post review of court documents revealed Mr Aldrich petitioned a court in Texas to change his name from Nicholas Brink to Anderson Lee Aldrich at the age of 15.
His mother’s name did not appear on the court petition, but two of his grandparents signed the document, the Post reported.
The news site also uncovered evidence that Mr Aldrich was subjected to an intensely homophobic online bullying campaign prior to changing his name.
His image, name and online aliases were posted to a website, and a YouTube account was set up under his name featuring disturbing animated content under the title: “Asian homosexual gets molested.”
The Denver Gazette reported that Ms Voepel was sentenced to five years probation in Texas in 2013 for the downgraded charges of criminal mischief, her court-appointed lawyer James Oltersdorf said.
Mr Oltersdorf told The Gazette she didn’t complete the probation and he never heard from her again.
She also has outstanding warrants in California, but it’s unclear on what charges, according to The Gazette.
Mr Aldrich, 22, was arrested in June last year after his mother Laura Voepel called police to report he had threatened her with a homemade bomb, according to a statement from El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.
Mr Aldrich is seen on a ring doorbell camera obtained by CNN walking out of his mother’s home in Pilgrimage Rd with his hands in the air as an armoured vehicle and several patrol cars surround the property.
He was charged with felony menacing and kidnapping, according to a statement by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.
He was still able to obtain an AR-15-style rifle and handgun, which he allegedly used to kill five and wound more than a dozen others in the mass shooting at Club Q.