Anderson Lee Aldrich, the suspect in the shooting massacre Saturday night at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has identified as nonbinary in court papers, denting a media narrative that he was motivated by anti-LGBTQ+ bias from the right.
In the court filing Tuesday by a public defender, a footnote described Aldrich, 22, as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns. The document also referred to Aldrich as "Mx. Aldrich"; "mx" is used as a gender-neutral title."
Aldrich made his initial court appearance Wednesday via video conference and was held without bond at El Paso County jail.
District Attorney Michael Allen said at a news conference after the hearing: "To us, his legal definition in this proceeding is 'the defendant.'" Allen said Aldrich identifying as nonbinary "will have no impact on how I prosecute this case."
An investigation into a motive for the shooting, which resulted in five deaths and 18 injuries, is ongoing but Aldrich is facing murder and hate-crime charges. Formal charges have not been filed, but Allen said they should be filed at the next court date, scheduled for Dec. 6.
A lack of motive or formal charges hasn't stopped some in the mainstream media from jumping on board a familiar bandwagon and pointing fingers at Republicans.
In a USA TODAY column posted Tuesday, Rex Huppke blamed "hideous anti-LGBTQ rhetoric coming from one side of the political aisle. Lawmakers, parents, and pundits senselessly calling out drag queens, labeling teachers who dare speak of gender identity as 'groomers,' passing or supporting legislation making the word 'gay' seem taboo."
Huppke even placed blame on a former press secretary for Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and U.S. Rep. Marjorie-Taylor Greene, R-Ga.
A Washington Post editorial by Brian Broome posted Monday blamed U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., and rhetoric from others on the right wing. "After ginning up hatred for a particular community through fear, lies and conspiracies, all they have to do is sit back and wait for someone to do their work for them," Broome wrote.
Boebert also was the target of a Denver Post op-ed posted Tuesday with a headline of "We're looking at you, Lauren Boebert. Stop the intolerance."
In a Los Angeles Times column posted Sunday by Robin Maril, a professor of constitutional, administrative and health law at Willamette University College of Law, she wrote the incident "follows six years in which far-right leaders have led American politics down a fearful blame spiral fueled by homophobia, xenophobia and racism."
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