Voepel drew calls for ouster after he likened the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol attack to Revolutionary War battles “firing first shots against tyranny.”
By Miriam Raftery
Photo: Assemblyman Randy Voepel, via his social media
Updated Nov. 21 with details on charges filed against suspect
November 20, 2022 (Santee) – The mass shooting suspect accused of killing five people and wounding at least 25 more at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs last night is the grandson of local Assemblyman Randy Voepel, former Santee Mayor, the independent media outlet Heavy.com reports.
Voepel lost his reelection bid to Assemblymember Marie Waldron, a fellow Republican whom he squared off against due to redistricting. ECM has reached out to a Voepel staffer seeking comments but has not yet received a response.
A Facebook photo (right) shows family members together including Randy and Laura Voepel, center.
Aldrich is accused of entering Club Q, a gay nightclub hosting a drag show, with a long rifle and opening fire around midnight, CNN reports. The shooter killed two bartenders and at least three others not yet identified before bar patrons overpowered him. According to Colorado Springs Police Lieutenant Pamela Castro, one patron later identified as an Army veteran disarmed Aldrich and beat him with his own gun. The Insider reports that tother patrons joined in, including drag queen who reportedly stomped on the gunman with high heels.
Aldrich faced five murder charges and five charges of committing a bias-motivated crime causing bodily injury, court records indicate. He remains hospitalized with injuries caused by those who fought back against the gunman.
Aldrich was previously arrested in 2021 after his mother reported to law enforcement that he had a homemade bomb, multiple weapons and ammunition, according to a press release issued by the El Paso County Sheriff’s department, which covers Colorado Springs. The incident prompted a SWAT team response and stand-off, with nearby homes evacuated. No bombs were found, however Aldrich was arrested for felony menacing and three counts of first-degree kidnapping, but no explosives were found, and he was never prosecuted.
His mother posted on social media seeking legal counsel for her son at that time, and has also posted indicated her son had mental health issues.
Randy Voepel drew controversy four days after the violent insurrection at the Capitol that killed several people and injured 150 police offers. In an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune publishing January 10, 2021, Voepel, a MAGA Trump supporter, said of the January 6, 2021 insurrection, “This is Lexington and Concord,” a reference to two battles that started the Revolutionary War. “First shots fired against tyranny. Tyranny will follow in the aftermath of the Biden swear-in on January 20.”
That prompted many posts on his Facebook page overwhelmingly condemning his statements, including calls for him to resign.The Truman National Security Project, a group founded after the 9/11 terror attacks to advocate for national security solutions, sent a letter to the California Assembly calling for Voepel to be expelled. The group called his words “an explicit glorification of the insurrection and direct incitement of further violence,” noting that Voepel was both a veteran and an elected official.
After that controversy, Voepel tried to walk back his remarks, posting on Facebook, “I do not condone or support the violence and lawlessness that took place on Wednesday, January 6th, at our nation’s capitol.”
Voepel also has a history of opposing gay rights. In July 2015, while speaking on his candidacy to a conservative group, Voepel stated, “Personally I’m a Southern Baptist. I do not support gay marriage in a Biblical way but it’s the law of the land.” As ECM reported, he added that he thinks if more Christians had stood up the decision might have been stopped.”
Voepel also quipped that he deserved election because “I haven’t been indicted” in 15 years serving on the Santee City Council or as Santee’s Mayor.
A Navy veteran, Voepel was accused of stolen valor and inflating his military record by his then-opponent, former Navy Seal Larry Wilske, also a Republican. He was also caught on tape boasting of being in “heavy combat” and serving with the “Tiger Battalion in Vietnam while speaking to a Korean veterans group, claims that appeared to be disingenuous.
Both Voepel and his replacement, Assemblymember Marie Waldron, ducked out and did not vote on an Assembly resolution calling on then President Donald Trump to resign due to his role in the January 6, 2020 insurrection.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat and the nation’s first openly gay governor, issued a statement Sunday calling the attack “horrific, sickening and devastating.” He praised those who blocked the gunman, as well as first responders, adding, “Colorado stands with our LGTBQ community and everyone impacted by this tragedy as we mourn together.”
Police are treating the case as a hate crime and cited bias in charges filed, but details on the suspect’s motive have not yet been released.
President Joe Biden issued a statement voicing concern over hate crimes and violence.“While no motive in this attack is yet clear, we know that the LGBTQI+ community has been subjected to horrific hate violence in recent years,” the President stated. “Gun violence continues to have a devastating and particular impact on LGBTQI+ communities across our nation and threats of violence are increasing,” Biden concluded.