Colorado Springs shooting: Gunman kills 5 at LGBTQ nightclub before patrons confront and stop him, police say


A 22-year-old gunman entered an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colo., shortly before midnight Saturday and immediately opened fire, killing at least five people and injuring 25 others before patrons confronted him and stopped him, police said Sunday.

The suspect in the Q Club shooting has been identified as Anderson Lee Aldrich, according to Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez. He used a long gun in the shooting, and two firearms were found at the scene, Vasquez said.

At least two people inside the club tackled the gunman and prevented further violence, Vasquez said. “We owe them a big thank you,” he said.

Joshua Thurman told CNN affiliate KOAA that he was at a club dancing when he heard gunshots and saw a muzzle flash.

“I thought it was the music, so I kept dancing,” he said. “Then I heard another round of gunshots and then my client and I ran into the dressing room, got down on the floor and locked the door and immediately called the police.”

Thurman said he heard the sounds of more gunshots, people crying and windows breaking. When he came out, he saw bodies lying on the floor, broken glass and blood, he said.

The violence lasted only a few minutes. Police received numerous 911 calls beginning at 11:56 p.m., officers were dispatched at 11:57 p.m., an officer arrived at midnight and the suspect was taken into custody at 12:02 a.m., police said. A total of 39 patrols responded, police said, and Fire Chief Mike Smaldino said 11 ambulances went to the scene.

Authorities initially said 18 people were wounded, but later adjusted that total to 25. Several of those were in critical condition with gunshot wounds, though the exact number was not clear, officials said.

The suspect is being treated in hospital, the police added. The officers did not fire at him, police said.

Police said they were investigating whether the attack was a hate crime and noted Club Q’s attitude towards the LGBTQ community.

“Club Q is a safe haven for our LGBTQ citizens,” Vasquez said. “Every citizen has the right to feel safe and secure in our city, to walk around our beautiful city without fear of being harmed or mistreated.”

In a statement on social media, Club Q said it was “devastated by the senseless attack on our community” and thanked the “quick responses of heroic customers who subdued the shooter and ended this hateful attack.”

Club Q announced earlier in the day that its Saturday night lineup will include a punk and alternative show at 9pm, followed by a dance party at 11am. The club also planned a drag brunch and drag show for Transgender Day of Remembrance on Sunday. . The club’s website now says it will be closed until further notice.

The shooting came as the calendar turned on Sunday to Transgender Day of Remembrance, which commemorates the 2016 attack at an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in which a gunman who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group killed 49 people and wounded at least 53.

Colorado has been the site of some of the most heinous mass shootings in US history, including the 1999 Columbine High School shooting and the 2012 movie theater shooting in Aurora. Colorado Springs was the scene of a mass shooting at Planned Parenthood in November 2015 that left three dead and a birthday party last year that left six dead.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been more than 600 mass shootings in the U.S. this year, defined as an incident in which at least four people other than the shooter were shot.

A general view of the Q Club as police respond to a mass shooting there on November 20, 2022.

Colorado Springs, the state’s second most populous city with just under 500,000 residents, is home to several military bases and is home to Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian group that says homosexuality and same-sex marriage are sins.

Club Q opened in 2002 and until recently was the only LGBTQ club in the city.

“The proudly queer Q Club has stood as a bulwark for the LGBTQ community where others have fallen,” 5280 magazine reported last year. promotions and more. While the club has recently shifted to offering more low-key ‘dinner and a show’ atmospheres before 10pm, it’s still known as the place where queer young adults go and dance.”

In a July 2020 interview with the Colorado Springs Indy, Q Club owner Nic Grzecka explained why he and his business partner opened the facility.

“The whole idea of ​​this place (Club Q) is to have a safe place – to get a permanent place in the city,” Grzecka said.

She and her business partner visited other successful LGBTQ spaces and noticed a common theme: “They were gay as hell,” Grzecka told the publication. “They had go-go dancers and drag queens and bartenders in suspenders. We knew we had to be gay as hell (to survive).”

The venue also hosts events for people of all ages, including a breakfast and an upcoming Thanksgiving event planned.

Bouquets of flowers and inscription

Joseph Sheldon told CNN affiliate KRDO that he visited the club Saturday night to drop off a friend about 10 minutes before the gunman opened fire.

“It’s a bar I’ve gone to many times in my life since I turned 18. A lot of these people in the bar are friends, they’re family, there’s a lot of people I’ve become close to,” he said.

“Whether it’s a hate crime or not, it’s hard to see that this is happening, that this happened in my community, that this happened in a place where I went and felt safe, that it happened in a place where if I had stayed another 10 minutes, I would have been right in the middle of it.”

Lifelong Colorado Springs resident Tiana Nicole Dykes called Club Q “a second home full of select family.”

“I’m there every other week, if not every week. This place means the world to me. Energy, people, message. It’s a beautiful place that didn’t deserve this tragedy,” Dykes told CNN on Sunday. “Something like a mass shooting in an LGBT+ safe space is incredibly damaging. There are feelings of disrespect, disbelief and sheer shock. Nobody ever thinks it will happen to them, but sometimes it does.”

Tim Curran, editor of CNN’s “Early Start,” is a regular at Club Q with his boyfriend when he visits his family in Colorado Springs.

“It’s a very warm, welcoming space, definitely a big step toward diversity in the Springs,” Curran told CNN.

A man with the same name and age as the shooting suspect was arrested last June in connection with the bomb threat, according to a statement from law enforcement at the time.

When asked at a news conference Sunday if it was the same person, officials said they had to follow protocol before releasing any information about previous cases.

According to a June 2021 press release from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, Anderson Lee Aldrich was arrested that month on charges of criminal threatening and first-degree kidnapping.

Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report from the man’s mother that he “threatened to harm her with a homemade bomb, multiple guns and ammunition,” the release said. Deputies called the suspect over and he “refused to comply with orders to surrender,” the release said, prompting the evacuation of nearby homes.

Hours after the first police call, the sheriff’s crisis negotiation unit was able to get Aldrich to leave the house, and he was arrested as he walked out the front door. Authorities found no explosives in the home.

It was not immediately clear how the case was resolved.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat and the state’s first openly gay governor, issued a statement Sunday calling the attack “horrific, painful and devastating” and offering state resources to local law enforcement.

“We are eternally grateful for the brave individuals who blocked the shooter and likely saved lives in the process, and for the first responders who quickly responded to this horrific shooting,” he said. “Colorado stands with our LGTBQ community and all those affected by this tragedy as we grieve together.”

Two US senators from Colorado, both Democrats, expressed his condolences in statements and said more needs to be done for the LGBTQ community.

“We must protect LGBTQ lives from this hatred,” said Senator John Hickenlooper.

“As we seek justice for this unthinkable act, we must do more to protect the LGBTQ community and stand firmly against discrimination and hatred in all its forms,” Senator Michael Bennett said.

President Joe Biden also issued a statement saying he was praying for the victims and their families.

“While no motive for this attack is yet clear, we do know that the LGBTQI+ community has been subjected to horrific hate violence in recent years. Gun violence continues to have a devastating and particular impact on LGBTQI+ communities across the country, and threats of violence are on the rise,” Biden said in a written statement.


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