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Tribune News Service
Tribune News Service
The Gazette

Patrons hailed as heroes as 5 dead, 25 injured in shooting at gay nightclub in Colorado Springs

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Several patrons of a gay and lesbian nightclub in Colorado Springs are being hailed as heroes, as details unfold about a mass shooting that happened minutes before midnight Saturday at Club Q and left five people dead and 25 bystanders injured, according to authorities.

"At least two heroic people confronted and fought with the suspect and were able to stop the suspect from continuing to kill (and) harm others," Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said during a news conference Sunday morning. "We owe them a great debt of thanks."

A lone suspect, Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, was subdued at the club, taken into custody and transported to a local hospital to be treated for unspecified injuries two minutes after officers arrived, Vasquez said. The suspect remains in the hospital and it is unknown when he will be released, authorities said.

The gunman entered the club and "immediately started shooting at people, as he moved farther inside," Vasquez said.

Officers found two firearms at the scene and are working to identify who the guns belong to, he said. However, Vasquez said the suspect used a long rifle during the shooting.

Authorities would not release names of victims or of the good Samaritans, calling the situation complex and complicated.

“Detectives are currently seeking multiple search warrants,” Vasquez added.

The shooter's motive and whether the incident will be identified as a hate crime is part of the investigation, he said.

The 30 people who died or were injured were either shot or hurt while people tried to flee from inside the club, authorities said during the news conference.

Ten patients are being treated at UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central, officials said; Penrose Hospital was treating seven of the victims and Memorial North was treating two. One of the victims died at a hospital, authorities said.

Some people who had been injured took themselves to the hospital, while hospital chiefs said others have life-threatening conditions.

The nightclub at 3430 N. Academy Blvd., just south of North Carefree Circle, is not usually a violent location, Colorado Springs police spokeswoman Lt. Pamela Castro said.

"This club is not a problem," she said. "It's a safe haven for members of our community. We are shocked and saddened."

There is no ongoing threat to the community, said 4th Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen as he took the microphone.

“Colorado Springs is once again in mourning," Mayor John Suthers said at the media briefing. "Our hearts go out to the victims and their families for bearing the weight of this horrific tragedy.

"We know one or more patrons heroically intervened to subdue the suspect," Suthers added, "and we praise those individuals who did so, because their actions clearly saved lives.

"We are a strong community that has shown resilience in the face of hate and violence in the past, and we will do so again."

An emergency call for an active shooter came in to law enforcement dispatch at 11:56 p.m., Castro said. The first officer arrived in the area at midnight, and the suspect was taken into custody at 12:02 a.m., Castro said at the 8 a.m. briefing. A total of 39 police officers responded, Vasquez said.

Colorado Springs Fire Chief Randy Roybal said at the morning news conference that having police quickly subdue the suspect allowed for first responders to quickly "get in there are start treating the wounded."

Colorado Springs Fire Department spokesman Capt. Mike Smaldino said during an earlier news conference that 34 firefighters and 11 ambulances responded to assist.

The FBI is on also scene and is assisting in the investigation, said Castro.

The attack is the sixth mass killing in the U.S. this month.

Club Q released a statement on its Facebook page early Sunday morning labeling the shooting as a "hate attack."

"Club Q is devastated by the senseless attack on our community," the Facebook post read. "Our prayers and thoughts are with all the victims and their families and friends. We thank the quick reactions of heroic customers that subdued the gunman and ended this hate attack."

Sen. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., called the attack “an unspeakable act” and said it was “horrendous” to learn what happened.

“We have to protect LGBTQ lives from this hate,” wrote Hickenlooper, who is also the former governor of Colorado.

Club Q was preparing to host a brunch event on Sunday in celebration of Transgender Day of Remembrance, according to a post on its Facebook page.

The nightclub also had plans to throw a “Friendsgiving Dinner,” according to another post on its Facebook page.

Colorado Springs has had other mass shootings.

In November 2015, three people were killed and eight wounded at a Planned Parenthood clinic in the city. Robert Lewis Dear Jr. said in court testimony he opened fire because he wanted to wage “war” on the clinic because it performed abortions.

A gunman killed six members of an extended family at a birthday party at a mobile home in Colorado Springs on May 9, 2021, before turning the gun on himself, in what was the fourth deadliest mass shooting in state history and tied for the deadliest mass murder in the city's history.

America’s LGBTQ clubs and bars have been targeted in other recent attacks. In 2016, a gunman killed 49 people and wounded 53 others at Pulse, a crowded gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.


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