On November 21 2022, in the days following a mass shooting attack at the LGBTQ Club Q in Colorado Springs that left at least five people dead, screenshots circulated on Reddit and Imgur (twice) of a tweet claiming that the suspected shooter was the grandson of a southern California politician, Assemblymember Randy Voepel (R):
All three versions showed the same tweet, and all screenshots were cropped so that the bottom of the November 20 2022 tweet was not visible. It linked to a Heavy.com article titled “Anderson Lee Aldrich: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know”:
NEW: The 22-year-old Colorado Springs mass shooter whose record was mysteriously sealed after making a bomb threat last year is the grandson of GOP California State Assemblyman @RandyVoepel from San Diego, who voiced support for the Jan 6 Capitol attack. https://t.co/78T3NNFaGk
— Chad Loder (@chadloder) November 20, 2022
Heavy.com utilized a “5 Fast Facts” template for “breaking news,” and its “Anderson Lee Aldrich” iteration included the following claim:
Anderson Lee Aldrich is the 22-year-old suspect accused of perpetrating a mass shooting at Club Q, a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The November 19, 2022, attack left five dead and 25 injured.
Heavy has confirmed that Aldrich is the grandson of outgoing California Republican State Assemblymember Randy Voepel, the former mayor of Santee, California. Voepel represents the 71st District in the San Diego area. There were calls to expel Voepel from the state Assembly after he made comments comparing the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol to the Revolutionary War. Aldrich’s mother, Laura Voepel, has written posts praising Randy Voepel on Facebook and confirming he is her father.
In the excerpt above, “has written” linked to a Facebook account under the name “Laura Voepel.” No specific post was linked, but we located an April 2020 post from Voegel, describing Randy Voepel as her father.
Keep up the work Dad~~ You work hard to improve our lives and a lot of us take notice.
About Randy Voepel: represents California’s 71st Assembly
District and served as the Mayor of Santee from 2000 to 2016.
California State Assemblymember representing the 71st District in San Diego & Riverside Counties. Husband. Grandfather. Veteran.
As a California State Assemblymember for the 71st Assembly District, Randy Voepel represents the Eastern portion of San Diego County, as well as the Southern portion of Riverside County….
Leslie Bowman said in an interview that the frightening 2021 incident took place at her home, where she had been renting a spare room to Mr. Aldrich’s mother, Laura Voepel. Ms. Bowman said she was away from the house during the 2021 incident.
“His mom had called me and said, ‘Don’t come home right now, there are some people looking for Andy,’” Ms. Bowman recalled, using Mr. Aldrich’s nickname.
Two days after the incident, Ms. Bowman arranged to have Ms. Voepel move out of her home. “Once she was gone, I changed the code on the door, and I never saw or heard from her again,” Ms. Bowman said.
But about a month ago, she said, the police visited Ms. Bowman and said they were looking for Ms. Voepel to check on her welfare, though Ms. Bowman did not know why … On Sunday [November 20 2022], after the shooting, Ms. Bowman was left wondering why Mr. Aldrich may have been at large and able to get hold of a rifle, if he had been accused of the bomb threat.
A viral November 20 2022 tweet suggested that Anderson Aldrich, the suspect in a Colorado Springs mass shooting at LGBTQ Club Q, was the grandson of California State Assemblyman Randy Voegel. Aldrich’s mother Laura Voegel published a post in April 2020, in which she described Randy Voegel as “Dad,” adding “keep up the work.”