Lawyers say Colorado Springs suspect is non-binary

AP Photo/David Zalubowski

In the immediate wake of the shooting at an LGBT club in Colorado Springs, many were quick to claim that the problem was, without a doubt, anti-LGBT bigotry. They called the shooting a hate crime. They claimed this was the inevitable result of right-wing criticisms of things like drag shows for kids.

And, to be fair, it seemed that it was pretty likely that it was what many term a hate crime. After all, why choose that particular club? Sure, it might have just been a coincidence, but there was a strong possibility it wasn’t.

Well, that particular bit of speculation may have just gotten shot in the kiester.

[Name redacted], the suspect in the deadly Colorado LGBTQ nightclub massacre, is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns, their lawyers said in new court filings Tuesday.

Public defenders Joseph Archambault and Michael Bowman filed several motions on Tuesday night that included a footnote about their client’s identity.

“[The suspect] is nonbinary,” the footnote states, the Denver Post reported. “They use they/them pronouns, and for the purposes of all formal filings, will be addressed as Mx. Aldrich.”

Well…isn’t that interesting?

Now, let’s be clear, this may be nothing but a ploy. The suspect appears to have been the victim of some pretty harsh online harassment, though I can’t find where any of it was due to him supposedly being non-binary or if that was even known by the harassers.

It’s possible that he’s claiming non-binary status as a way of trying to dodge the hate crime charges he’s facing.

There’s really no way to get away with walking into a nightclub and murdering five people, but the hate crime charges could ramp up the punishment significantly. Saying you’re non-binary seems like an easy, difficult-to-dispute way to avoid that. “I can’t be an anti-LGBT bigot, you’re honor. I’m non-binary myself.”

So yeah, there are grounds to be skeptical of the claim.

But on the same token, it’s unlikely that, if convicted, he’ll ever breathe free air again. It’s not like the hate crime charges will really do much to him in the long run.

Yet if the claim is accurate, it completely shatters the narrative surrounding this shooting with regard to his motivations.

It also raises so many more questions about his motivations.

After all, an anti-gay or anti-trans bias is a simple explanation. He shot up that club because he didn’t like the people who attended the club. Simple as that.

But if he’s non-binary, that would make him part of the same community as those he targeted. It’s unlikely to be because he hated them as a category since he is part of that same category. It’s not impossible, mind you, but unlikely.

Either way, this case just took a very interesting turn, but I caution folks not to get too excited about upending the narrative. Someone saying they’re non-binary doesn’t necessarily mean they really identify as any such thing. Hell, I know of someone who describes themselves as a non-binary lesbian and who referred to their supposedly non-binary partner as their girlfriend, so it seems the term can be easily thrown around.

So we’re going to have to wait and see.