Colorado Springs nightclub shooting: Police say 5 dead at Club Q

Officials said the 22-year-old gunman entered the nightclub and immediately opened fire, killing five people.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – A 22-year-old gunman opened fire inside an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, killing 5 people and injuring 25 before he was subdued by “heroic” patrons and arrived by police. arrest within minutes, authorities said Sunday.

Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said two firearms, including a long rifle, were found at Club Q following Saturday night’s shooting.

On its Facebook page, the club called it a “hate attack.” El Paso County District Attorney Michael Allen said investigators are still determining a motive and whether to prosecute it as a hate crime. The charges against the suspect “will likely include first-degree murder,” he said.

Police identified the gunman as Anderson Lee Aldrich, who is in custody and is being treated for his injuries.

Authorities say a man by that name was arrested in 2021 after his mother reported that he threatened her with a homemade bomb and other weapons. They declined to elaborate on the arrest. Authorities said at the time, no explosives were found, and The Gazette in Colorado Springs reported that prosecutors were not pursuing any charges and the records were sealed.

Authorities were called to Club Q at 11:57 p.m. Saturday with reports of a shooting, and the first officer arrived at midnight.

Joshua Thurman said he was in the club with about two dozen other people and was dancing when the scene began. At first he thought it was part of the music, until he heard another gunshot and said he saw a flash of the muzzle.

Thurman, 34, said he ran with another person into the changing room, where someone was hiding. They locked the door, turned off the lights and lay on the floor but could hear the violence going on, including the gunman being beaten, he added.

“I could lose my life — for what? What is the purpose?” he said as tears rolled down his cheeks. “We are just enjoying ourselves. We do not harm anyone. We are in our space, our community, our home, enjoying ourselves like everyone else.

Vasquez said the gunman was confronted with “at least two heroes” who fought and subdued the suspect.

He added: “We owe them a huge thank you. Vasquez said detectives are also checking to see if anyone helped Aldrich before the attack.

Of the 25 injured, at least seven are in critical condition, authorities said. Several people were injured trying to flee and it is unclear if all the victims were shot, a police spokesman said.

The shooting brought back memories of the 2016 massacre at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, which left 49 people dead. Colorado has experienced a number of mass murders, including at Columbine High School in 1999, a movie theater in suburban Denver in 2012, and at a Boulder supermarket last year.

It was the sixth mass murder this month and comes in a year of nationwide shock over the deaths of 21 people in a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

Club Q is a gay and lesbian nightclub that has drag shows on Saturdays, according to its website. Club Q’s Facebook page says the planned entertainment includes a “punk and alternative show” ahead of the birthday dance party, with a “brunch for all ages” on Sunday.

Tug of war events have become the focus of recent anti-LGBTQ protests and rhetoric as opponents, including politicians, propose banning children from participating in these activities, claims the statement. false that they are used to “grooming” children.

Attorney General Merrick Garland has been notified of the shooting and the FBI is assisting police with the investigation.

President Joe Biden said that while the motive for the shooting remains unclear, “we know that the LGBTQI+ community has suffered horrific hate violence in recent years.”

“Places that are supposed to be safe spaces for acceptance and celebration should never be turned into places of terror and violence,” he said. “We cannot and must not tolerate hate.”

Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who became the first openly gay man in the United States to be elected governor in 2018, called the shooting “disgusting.”

Polis said: “My heart breaks for the families and friends of those who have lost, wounded and hurt. “Colorado stands with our LGTBQ community and all those affected by this tragedy as we mourn.”

A makeshift memorial sprang up on Sunday near the club, with flowers, stuffed animals and candles and a sign saying “Love is better than hate” next to a rainbow-colored heart.

Seth Stang was buying flowers for a memorial when he learned that two of the dead were his friends. The 34-year-old transgender man said it was like being “dumped with a bucket of hot water. … I’m just tired of not having places where we can safely exist.”

Ryan Johnson, who lives near the club and was there last month, says it’s one of only two places for the LGBTQ community in Colorado Springs to be conservative. “It’s a place for pride,” the 26-year-old said of the club, which sits behind other businesses, including a bowling alley and a sandwich shop.

Colorado Springs, a city of about 480,000 people 70 miles (112 km) south of Denver, is home to the United States Air Force Academy, as well as Focus on the Family, a prominent Christian mission. The group condemned the shooting and said it “reveals the evil and evil within the human heart.”

In November 2015, three people were killed and eight injured at a Planned Parenthood clinic in the city when authorities said a gunman targeted the clinic because it performed abortions.

“Q Club is devastated by a senseless attack on our community,” the club posted on Facebook. “We thank the quick response of our heroic customers who subdued the gunman and put an end to this hostile attack.”

The CEO of a national LGBTQ rights organization, Kevin Jennings of Lambda Legal, has begged for tighter restrictions on guns.

“The toxic mix of bigotry and unreasonably easy access to guns means that such events are all too common and LGBTQ+ people, the BIPOC community, the Jewish community and other groups Other vulnerable populations pay the price again and again for the failure of our political leadership,” he said in a statement.

The shooting happened during Transgender Awareness Week and hours before International Transgender Remembrance Day on Sunday, when events around the world are held to mourn and remember transgender people. The world has died because of violence.

In June, 31 members of the neo-Nazi group Patriotic Front were arrested in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and charged with plotting to riot at a Pride event. Experts warn that extremist groups may see anti-gay rhetoric as a call to action.

Last month, an Idaho fundamentalist pastor told his small Boise congregation that gays, lesbians, and transgenders should be executed by the government, which has lined up with articles similar preaching by a fundamentalist pastor in Texas.

Since 2006, there have been 523 mass murders and 2,727 deaths as of November 19, according to The Associated Press/USA Today database of mass murders in the US.

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