By Dell Dumont
On Nov. 19, two patrons of an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs subdued a gunman wielding an AR-15 style rifle with six magazines of ammunition. The gunman appeared heavily armed and wore a military-style flak jacket, killing five people and leaving over two dozen others injured.
Police officials identified the gunman as Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22. After reviewing the surveillance videos, Matthew Haynes, a co-owner of Club Q, claimed the assailant entered the building with “tremendous firepower.” Police officers arrived and took the gunman into custody within six minutes of receiving an emergency call about the shooting.
Officials credited Thomas James, a US Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class, and Richard Fierro, an Army veteran, as the two individuals who heroically stopped the shooter’s rampage. Before the shooter could cause any more damage, the two sprinted towards the gunman, tackling the assailant as others ran to escape. In a statement, Fierro commented, “I don’t know exactly what I did, I just went into combat mode. I just know I have to kill this guy before he kills us.”
According to the hospital spokesperson, James is the only Club Q shooting victim still recovering at Penrose Hospital. In a statement James made regarding the shooting, he said, “I simply wanted to save the family I found. If I had my way, I would shield everyone I could from the nonsensical acts of hate in the world, but I am only one person.”
After the first few shots, patrons, including Joshua Thurman, thought the shots were part of the music and revelers continued to enjoy their night out in a club. After the gunman fired more shots and the light from the muzzle of the gun flashed, panic set in and clubgoers sprinted and searched for spaces to hide. Thurman said Club Q was a “safe space” for those who attend: “This is a place we love, a place of peace, a place to be ourselves.”
The Chief of the Colorado Springs Police Department, Adrian Vasquez, said the shooting barely lasted a minute. According to officials, the motive behind the attack is still unknown. Mayor Suthers said the shooting “has all the appearances of being a hate crime,” but said that investigators needed to comb through the gunman’s social media history to determine a definitive motive. In a statement, President Biden denounced the apparent targeting of the LGBTQ+ community. He commented, “Places that are supposed to be safe spaces of acceptance and celebration should never be turned into places of terror and violence.”
The Colorado Springs Police Department identified the five victims as Raymond Green Vance, Kelly Loving, Daniel Aston, Derrick Rump, and Ashley Paugh. LGBTQ+ advocates, supporters, and the victims’ loved ones acknowledged and appreciated the department for using the correct and respected pronouns for the victims.
(Sources: 9News, BBC, CNN, NBC, NPR, NY Times)