Before he committed mass murder in Colorado late last year, Anderson Lee Aldrich was a lively presence among a group of friends who regularly assembled online for hours to chat, play video games and trade internet memes.
The four irreverent young men shared a desire to mock "cancel culture" and laugh over "dumb, silly stuff," said Gilbert Arroyo, one of the friends. But over the roughly three years of their gatherings, the memes and quips Aldrich shared grew increasingly racist, homophobic and violent, according to three of the gamers and a Reuters review of online content that Aldrich assembled.
Despite his vitriol, the friends said, Aldrich's jokes were more scattershot humor than ideological manifesto. They never perceived him to be espousing any particular belief system or aligning with specific hate groups or political causes.