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Colorado Springs mass shooting suspect and mother accused of using racist slurs during July flight

The Independent logo The Independent 5 days ago Alex Woodward
Aldrich flight video © KDVR FOX11 Aldrich flight video

A suspect accused of killing five people inside a LGBT+ nightclub and the suspect’s mother allegedly used racist slurs towards a Hispanic family and a Black man during a flight to Denver in July.

A cell phone video from an airline passenger obtained by local news outlet KDVR Fox 31 appears to show mass shooting suspect Anderson Lee Aldrich and Aldrich’s mother Laura Voepel during an airport confrontation on 31 July.

Maria Martinez told the outlet that she began filming after Aldrich used a racist slur towards her as they left the plane.

As she continued to film them, a person believed to be Aldrich tells her: “You keep following me and I’m going to f*** you up.”

Ms Martinez said she and her daughter Kayla immediately recognized Aldrich as the person accused of killing five people and injuring 18 others inside a Colorado Springs LGBT+ nightclub on Saturday night.

Family friend Tanya De La O, who was traveling with the family, claims that Ms Voepel started using racist language after the Frontier Airlines flight had landed.

She told Fox 31: “I was having a hard time getting my luggage down (from the overhead bin), and all of a sudden, I just hear this woman say, ‘Hurry the f*** up. You b****.’ And then I turned around and said, ‘Excuse me?”

Ms De La O said a Black man tried to de-escalate, but Aldrich allegedly lashed out with a racist response.

“He also told him to ‘shut the f*** up, you f****** n*****-,’” according to Ms De La O.

Ms Martinez said Aldrich was “very hateful acting” and “evil”.

“I could just feel like the hate,” he daughter added. “He just seems like he has hate deep down in his heart.”

Ms Martinez said she tried to register a complaint to the Frontier Airlines flight crew but “felt they weren’t willing to get involved and told her to call customer service when she got off the plane,” according to Fox 11. She claims that the airline refused to take her complaint over the phone and asked to submit one in writing.

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The Independent has requested comment from Ms Voepel and Frontier Airlines.

The video and comments from flight passengers join several media reports that string together details about the suspect’s life and relationships with family members.

A former friend and neighbour told The Daily Beast that Aldrich would “get into fights” with their mother “because he would be saying hateful things about whoever he was angry with”.

“He said things sometimes that probably should have been alarming to me. He used the term ‘f*****’ a lot. Most of the time it came from a place of anger,” acording to Xavier Kraus.

In June 2021, Aldrich, then 21 years old, allegedly threatened Ms Voepel with a homemade bomb, forcing neighbours to evacuate their homes while law enforcement officers and crisis negotiators responded to the incident.

According to a press release from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office at the time, Ms Voepel had called 911 to report that her child was “threatening to cause harm to her with a homemade bomb, multiple weapons, and ammunition.” The standoff reportedly lasted for three hours.

On Wednesday, Aldrich made a first appearance in court via video stream. The 22-year-old suspect remains in custody without bond; prosecutors are finalising charges, which likely include five counts of first-degree murder with hate crime attachments.

A next court date is set for 6 December.

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