It was supposed to be another night of fun, love and joy at Club Q, a popular LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colo.
For a $7 insurance fee, Guests were able to party to the tunes spun by DJ T Beatz, enjoy Del Lusional’s drag queen performance, dance with old friends, make new friends, celebrate birthdays and cherish the camaraderie and safety that made Club Q feel like family.
The festivities were to last until two o’clock. The next day, a musical drag brunch was organized on Transgender Day of Remembrance.
But the warmth that made Club Q a safe haven for the LGBTQ community since it opened 20 years ago in this conservative corner of Colorado was cut short Saturday night after a gunman opened fire inside the club, killing five people and wounding 18 others.
And it has shaken society to its core. “It’s the only place we felt safe,” said Samantha Alcock, 25, who frequented the club when she lived in Colorado Springs.
A suspect has been arrested in connection with the mass shooting, and authorities are considering homicide and bias charges against them.
Here’s what we know:
Just before midnight, a man wearing what witnesses described as body armor and carrying what appeared to be several firearms, including a long-range rifle, entered Club Q, which was busy with people dancing, ordering drinks, celebrating birthdays and enjoying outdoor activities .
The suspect began shooting immediately after entering the club, Colorado Springs Police Department Chief Adrian Vasquez said. said.
Several witnesses described how the confusion escalated into chaos and fear. Joshua Thurman told reporters that he was on the dance floor when he first heard gunshots but thought it was music. He did not recall hearing anyone scream for help, he said.
“But then I heard another set of shots and I turned to my left, and I saw the flash from the muzzle,” he told NBC News.
Many patrons said they were on the dance floor or at the bar when they realized the club was under attack. Many headed out to the terrace. Others described falling to the floor or hide behind the bar as bullets shot through the club. Thurman said he and two others hid in a performer’s dressing room backstage, where they locked the doors, fell to the ground and turned off the lights.
Within minutes of the suspected gunman entering the club, two patrons — Richard Fierro and Thomas James — had overpowered him, authorities said.
Fierro, a veteran of the US Army, saw the flash and fell backwards, he said in an interview outside his home on Monday. Then he went into “battle mode,” he said.
He made his way to the suspect, who he described as large, pulled the suspect down by a handle on the back of their armor and began “whaling him.” He ordered someone nearby to push the rifle out of the suspect’s reach and someone else to call 911. A a transgender woman kicked the suspect head with the heels.
The first 911 call came in at 11:56 p.m., said Lt. Pamela Castro, spokeswoman for the Colorado Springs Police Department. The first officer was dispatched in seconds and arrived around midnight. The suspect — identified as 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich — was arrested two minutes later, she said.
At least two firearms were found at the scene, Vasquez said said. Police are investigating who owned the guns and whether they were purchased legally, authorities said. Vasquez confirmed the suspect used a long rifle in the shooting.
Who was killed?
Authorities identified five people who died in the attack at a press conference on Monday, after family and friends confirmed the deaths of their loved ones to The Times and other outlets:
- Kelly loving
- Daniel Aston
- Ashley Paugh
- Derrick Rump
- Raymond Green Vance
At least 18 others were injured in the shooting, compared to 25 initially. All but one suffered gunshot wounds.
Ten patients are being treated at UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central, a spokesman said. One person was released from the hospital on Sunday. The spokesman declined to comment on the patients’ condition.
Three other patients are being treated at Penrose Hospital and were in a stable condition, a spokesman said.
What do we know about the suspect?
Aldrich is in the hospital, authorities said. They declined to provide details on their condition or say whether they had made any statements to authorities.
The suspect is the grandson of outgoing California Rep. Randy Voepel (R-Santee), an aide to the lawmaker told The Times on Monday. Voepel would not comment to The Times, the aide said.
A a person with the same name and age where Aldrich was involved in a June 2021 standoff with the El Paso (Colo.) County Sheriff’s Department responding to reports of a bomb threat at a home in suburban Colorado Springs. Authorities found no explosives, and the Colorado Springs Gazette reported that prosecutors have not sought any charges against the man. Authorities have not confirmed that the two men are the same, citing Colorado State Police.
The Washington Post reported that public records show that Aldrich legally changed his full name when they were teenagers and that until the age of 15 they were known as Nicholas Brink, who lived in San Antonio.
What are the fees?
Prosecutors have not yet filed formal charges in connection with the attack.
But court documents show Aldrich is being held on suspicion of five counts of murder and five counts of bias crime causing bodily harm. Bias crimes are Colorado’s term for hate crimes, said Michael Allen, district attorney for Colorado’s 4th Judicial District.
Aldrich identifies as non-twin and uses they/them pronouns, according to a court filing Tuesday by their public defenders.
They are scheduled to make their first court appearance by video Wednesday morning, according to sources.
Police have “turned custody of the Club Q suspect over to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office at the jail,” the Colorado Springs Police Department said. tweet on Tuesday.
Asked if prosecutors were considering federal hate crime charges against the suspect, U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado Cole Finegan cited the ongoing investigation and said his office was working closely with Allen’s office and other local authorities but could not comment further. . .
Allen said he expects the arrest warrant and probable cause affidavit to be unsealed in the coming days.
Have the authorities identified why?
Investigators have not identified a motive for the shooting, but the investigation is being evaluated for possible bias and a homicide charge, Allen said.
More information is not expected to be released until next week, the Colorado Springs Police Department said said Tuesday.