Mayor says patron used suspect’s own gun to help stop mass shooting at Colorado Springs gay nightclub

Colorado Springs, Colo. When shots rang out at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, Five people died and many others were injuredA patron who had been partying shortly before sprang into action, snatched a handgun from the suspect, killed him with it and held him down until police arrived minutes later.

He was one of at least two customers whom police and city officials credited with stopping the gunman and limiting the bloodshed in Saturday night’s shooting at Club Q.

The violence penetrated the comfortable confines of an entertainment venue that has long been a safe space for the LGBTQ community in the conservative-leaning city.

“If that person had not intervened, it could have been much more tragic,” Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers told The Associated Press.

Stories of heroism have emerged with the telling of many witnesses and soothsayers. Various people at the bar – either customers, employees or both – subdued the shooter until police arrived, CBS Colorado reports.

Colorado Springs gay nightclub mass shooting
People react after a mass shooting at Club Q gay nightclub on November 20, 2022 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Kevin Mohat/Reuters

Police identified the alleged gunman as 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, who was in custody and receiving treatment for injuries.

A law enforcement official said the suspect used an AR-15-style semi-automatic weapon in the attack, but a handgun and additional ammunition magazines were also recovered. The officials could not publicly discuss details of the investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Club Q on its Facebook page thanked the “quick responses of brave customers who subdued the gunman and brought an end to this despicable attack.” El Paso County District Attorney Michael Allen said investigators are still determining a motive and whether to prosecute it as a hate crime. He said the charges against the suspect would include first-degree murder.

a victim, jerecho lowell, Told CBS Colorado He was shot in the leg, but did not realize it until after he himself had been taken to the hospital to be treated.

“I was running around with adrenaline, trying to find people I was there with, trying to check in with people I knew, people I hoped And prayed they were safe,” he said. “And then I went outside to try and help find everybody. I found my people and that’s when we found out I had a wound on my leg that was bleeding. Wrapped up and I got myself to the hospital and that’s when I found out I had a gunshot wound.

Questions were already being raised about why authorities did not try to take Aldrich’s guns away from him in 2021, when he was arrested after his mother reported that he had given her homemade bombs and explosives. Threatened with other weapons. Although officials at the time said no explosives were found, gun control advocates are asking why police did not try to trigger Colorado’s “red flag” law, which allows officers to confiscate the weapons his mother had. Got permission. No public records prosecutor ever went forward with felony kidnapping and racketeering charges against Aldrich.

At least 5 dead and 18 injured in Colorado Springs gay nightclub shooting
People keep vigil at a makeshift memorial near Club Q nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on November 20, 2022, following the mass shooting at the club.

Getty Images

Officials said at least seven of the 25 injured at Club Q were in critical condition. A police spokesman said some people were injured while trying to escape and it was not clear whether all of them were shot. Suthers said there was “reason to hope” that everyone hospitalized would recover.

shooting reminisces 2016 Massacre at Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, FloridaIn which 49 people were killed.

Colorado has experienced several mass killings, including at Columbine High School in 1999, a movie theater in suburban Denver in 2012, and a Boulder supermarket last year.

It was the sixth mass killing this month and occurred in a year when the country was rocked by the death of 21 people. School shooting in Uvalde, Texas,

Police said officers were called to a report of shots fired at Club Q at 11:57 p.m. Saturday and the first officers arrived at midnight.

Joshua Thurman said he was at the club with about two dozen other people and was dancing when the shots started. He initially thought it was part of the musical, until he heard another shot and said he saw a gun muzzle flash.

Thurman, 34, said he went with another man to a dressing room where someone was already hiding. They closed the door, turned off the lights and got on the floor, but could hear sounds of violence, including the gunman banging, he said.

At least 5 dead and 18 injured in Colorado Springs gay nightclub shooting
A candle burns with a message at a makeshift memorial near Club Q nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on November 20, 2022, following the mass shooting at the club.

/ Getty Images

“I could have lost my life – over what? What was the purpose?” she said as tears rolled down her cheeks. “We were just enjoying ourselves. We weren’t harming anybody. We were in our place, our community, our home, enjoying ourselves like everyone else.”

Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said investigators were looking into whether anyone helped the suspect before the attack. He said that the patrons who intervened during the attack were “heroic” and prevented more deaths.

Club Q is a gay and lesbian nightclub that features a drag show on Saturdays, according to its website. Club Q’s Facebook page said planned entertainment includes a “punk and alternative show” before a birthday dance party, followed by an all-ages drag brunch on Sunday.

Drag events have become a focus of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and protests, with opponents including politicians recently proposing to ban children from them, claiming they are used to “groom” children.

To substantiate a hate-crime charge against Aldrich, prosecutors must prove that he was motivated by the victims’ actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. So far, the suspect has not cooperated in interviews with investigators and has yet to give them a clear picture of the motivation for the attack, the official said on condition of anonymity.

Colorado Springs gay nightclub mass shooting
An inter-faith coexistence flag is displayed to show solidarity with the gay community following the mass shooting at Club Q gay nightclub on November 20, 2022 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Kevin Mohat/Reuters

President Biden said that although the motive for the shooting was not yet clear, “we know that the LGBTQI+ community has been subjected to horrific hate violence in recent years.”

“Places that are supposed to be safe places of acceptance and celebration should never be turned into places of terror and violence,” he said. “We can’t tolerate hate and we shouldn’t.”

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, the first openly gay man to be elected US governor in 2018, called the shooting “sickening”.

“My heart breaks for the families and friends of those lost, injured and in shock,” Polis said.

A makeshift memorial was erected near the club on Sunday, with flowers, a stuffed animal, candles and a sign reading “Love over Hate” next to a rainbow-coloured heart.

Seth Stang was buying flowers for the memorial when he was told that two of the dead were his friends. The 34-year-old transgender man said it was “like having a bucket of hot water thrown at you. … I’m tired of running from place to place where we can live safely.”

Ryan Johnson, who lives near the club and moved there last month, said it was one of only two nightspots for the LGBTQ community in Colorado Springs. “It’s something to be proud of,” the 26-year-old said of the club.

Colorado Springs, a city of approximately 480,000 located 70 miles south of Denver, is home to the US Air Force Academy, the US Olympic Training Center as well as Focus on the Family, a prominent evangelical Christian ministry that supports LGBTQ rights. advocates against. The group condemned the shooting, saying it “exposes the evil and wickedness deep inside the human heart.”

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

The shooting took place during Transgender Awareness Week and coincided with Sunday’s commemoration of International Transgender Day, when events are held around the world to mourn and remember transgender people lost to violence.

According to The Associated Press/USA Today database on mass killings in the US, there have been 523 mass killings since 2006 and 2,727 deaths as of November 19.

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