Feature photo of bouquets of flowers left outside of Club Q, the location of Saturday’s shooting in Colorado Springs, by JASON CONNOLLY/AFP via Getty Images
Once again, a place that provides refuge to the LGBT community has been visited by violence and tragedy. On Saturday night, a mass shooting broke out at Club Q, a gay and lesbian nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, leaving at least five people dead and 25 others wounded.
“Club Q is devastated by the senseless attack on our community,” the club wrote on their Facebook page. “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.”
According to Colorado Police, initial evidence suggests that the gunman entered Club Q, wearing body armor, and immediately opened fire. The gunman’s progress through the club was thwarted by Club Q’s own patrons. One of the club’s owners, Matthew Haynes, told the New York Times that one of the customers “took down the gunman and was assisted by another.” Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers corroborated that account in an interview with NBC’s “Today”. According to Suthers, one patron approached the gunman and was able to take the handgun. The patron then used the weapon to pistol-whip the gunman and, along with another Club Q patron, subdued the gunman until Colorado Springs police arrived minutes later. The two heroes have been identified as Rich Fierro and Thomas James. An unknown trans woman — who has been misidentified in other reporting, according to another witness — stomped the gunman with her heels.
“[Fierro] saved dozens and dozens of lives,” Haynes said. “Stopped the man cold. Everyone else was running away, and he ran toward [the gunman].”
"I did what I had to do."
Richard M. Fierro, one of the men who tackled the gunman in the Colorado Springs Club Q shooting, said it wasn’t about being the hero — it was all about protecting his family. https://t.co/SXoUGH4q4Y pic.twitter.com/fxOFXwEKhW
— CNN (@CNN) November 22, 2022
According to a post from his family, Fierro and his family were at Club Q to celebrate a friend’s birthday when the gunman opened fire. The Army veteran jumped into action, instinctively, to protect his family. He sustained injuries to his hands, knees, and ankle in his effort to subdue the gunman.
“I don’t know exactly what I did, I just went into combat mode,” Fierro told the New York Times.
The police arrived on scene three minutes after being dispatched and were able to detain the shooter. However, they also detained Fierro, tackling him, handcuffing him, and putting him in the back of police car. For an hour, Fierro screamed and pleaded to be let go to check on his family. His daughter’s boyfriend was among the shooting’s victims.
During a Sunday morning press conference, Lt. Pamela Castro, the Colorado Springs police spokeswoman, reported that 18 victims of the shooting — since updated to 25 — sought treatment at local hospitals. Two Centura Penrose Hospital doctors reported that they have treated seven shooting victims at their facility: two who are in critical condition, three who remain hospitalized with less severe injuries, and two who have been treated and released. UC Memorial Hospital Central received ten patients, according to Chief Medical Officer David Steinbruner. Those injuries included “multiple gunshot wounds” and “several people” in the ICU. The remaining victims are hospitalized at UC-Health Memorial North.
Joshua was inside Club Q when the gunman entered. He ran and hid. Heard the gunman being “beat up.” Tells @BeedieonTV “This was our only safe space in The Springs. Where are we gonna go?”#LGBTQ #ClubQ pic.twitter.com/ZkijarxZoc
— Josh Helmuth KRDO (@Jhelmuth) November 20, 2022
According to Colorado Springs Chief Adrian Vasquez, the police recovered two guns from the scene, the long rifle — later identified as an AR-15 — involved in the shooting and the aforementioned pistol. The suspect has been identified as Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22. Aldrich has not has not been formerly charged yet but, according to court records, Aldrich will likely be charged with five counts of first-degree murder after deliberation and five counts of bias-motivated crime, causing bodily injury. Following treatment for injuries, Aldrich was transferred to the El Paso County jail where Aldrich will await a hearing on Wednesday.
Independent sources have confirmed this is the same Anderson Lee Aldrich who was arrested in June 2021 for making a bomb threat in Aldrich’s mother’s Colorado Springs neighborhood.
At that time, Aldrich faced charges two counts of Felony Menacing and three counts of First-Degree Kidnapping, but according to subsequent reports, the DA’s office pursued no formal charges and the case was sealed. Per Colorado law, cases that are dismissed are automatically sealed, Mayor Suthers told the Washington Post, but prosecutors may move to have those records unsealed.
The mayor also reports that Aldrich’s relatives have not been cooperative in the Club Q shooting investigation. The suspect’s family was more forthcoming during that 2021 arrest, when they told investigators that Aldrich had aspirations of becoming a mass shooter, according to arrest records, newly obtained by Colorado Springs’ KKTV.
Colorado Governor, Jared Polis — the nation’s first out gay governor — released a statement about the shooting.
— Governor Jared Polis (@GovofCO) November 20, 2022
President Biden and the First Lady sent their prayers to the families of the victims and those injured in the mass shooting. He noted that far too often the LGBT community has been victimized by gun violence…in Orlando, in the epidemic of violence facing trans women, particularly trans women of color, and now in Colorado Springs.
“Places that are supposed to be safe spaces of acceptance and celebration should never be turned into places of terror and violence. Yet it happens far too often,” Biden said in a statement. “We must drive out the inequities that contribute to violence against LGBTQI+ people. We cannot and must not tolerate hate.”
According to the Facebook page, Club Q had been hosting their regular drag night performance, featuring the Drag Divas, followed by a dance party. Performer Del Lusional tweeted their disbelief, “I never thought this would happen to me and my bar. I don’t know what to do with myself.
“This doesn’t feel real. Like at all. Walking through the bar that I call my home and seeing it…… like that……,” they added. “I went from being so proud of myself for what I accomplished tonight, to…this. I hate this so much. I hate this so fucking much.”
On Sunday, Club Q was supposed to play host to an “All Ages Musical Drag Brunch,” followed by a celebration of Transgender Day of Remembrance. Increasingly, these events — and particularly those events that are open to children — have been targets of right-wing vitriol. Last month, a doughnut shop in Tulsa, Oklahoma was firebombed after the business hosted an art show that featured drag queens. Earlier this summer, in Colorado: hateful comments and threats led to the cancellation of a drag event at the Denver Botanic Gardens while a drag performance in Highlands Ranch drew protestors. During Sunday morning’s press conference, a media outlet asked specifically about whether or not children were present at Saturday night’s events.
Rep. Lauren Boebert, who represents the neighboring 3rd Congressional district, tweeted that “the victims & their families are in my prayers” but she had been among the many bigots echoing threats against drag performers. And their hate does not pause, even in the wake of violence and tragedy: hours after the shooting, two Colorado LGBT elected officials — Reps. Leslie Herod and Brianna Titone — were targeted by a site that foments hate against the LGBT community and their allies.
Club Q opened 21 years ago to fill a void in Colorado Springs. The city was home to the anti-LGBT group “Focus on the Family” and its lone gay club was on the verge of closure. The club’s co-owner, Mark Haynes said, “I bought that real estate (Club Q) intentionally because other gay clubs have come and gone in Colorado Springs. By owning that real estate and making our mark there it was intended to be long term.”
Colorado House Majority Leader Daneya Esgar (D-Pueblo) is the highest ranking LGBT woman in the state and offered this statement about the shooting:
The Colorado Springs Gazette is offering the first reporting about the victims of the Club Q Mass Shooting. All five victims have now been identified.
On Sunday night, Club Q issued an official statement about the shooting:
An official statement, on behalf of #ClubQ in #ColoradoSprings.
MORE: https://t.co/314RcItmZW pic.twitter.com/L4NZHamoqD
— GLAAD (@glaad) November 21, 2022
For readers looking for a way to support the victims of the Club Q shooting, two vetted options: Faith Haug of Good Judy Garage, LGBTQ+-owned auto repair shop located outside of Denver, has organized a GoFundMe Campaign. It is “intended to raise funds for funeral expenses, medical expenses, or other expenses the families of those murdered or injured have to face. Funds will be used for respectful services for the murdered, and support to the injured, and hopefully the club itself.”
You can also donate to The Colorado Healing Fund, a non-profit organization that exists solely to assist with the “financial, emotional and physical needs of victims of mass tragedies that occur in the state of Colorado.”
This is a developing story and we’ll continue to post updates as we have them.
that’s horrific ;( the hate-crime itself and also that the hateful creatures continue in their hate even after such events
month ago 2 people were shot in the gay club here in Slovakia and our ex-prime minister (he’s practically still our prime minister) “proudly” wrote that he’s straight on his Facebook only few days after the attack
and one of the catholic bishop was asking in his letter to priests if those LGBT victims were really that innocent as the media are writing about them
when this hate end?
💜💜💜 sending you love Ivett
What an immense amount of work that still needs to be done to combat people who hate others for being born gay. And it happens the exact same day the Quatar fifa world cup kicks off – an event happening in a country where you can be stoned and lynched to death for being gay. And the same day Joe Lycett shreds 10 grand for “gay rights” during a recession and cost of living crisis in the UK.
The only silver lining is the fact a lesbian (Jill Scott) is the favourite to win I’m a Celebrity right now. We need a gay queen of the jungle.
Take care of yourself and your loved ones friends. We’re living in very weird times.
It wasn’t real money – he has donated 10k to various LGBTQ charities
Anyone else have a heart stopping moment thinking Jill (voice of a powerful angel) Scott came out?! Ahhhh!!!
The disinformation works. Saying LGBTQ are pedos and groomers, drag shows are indoctrination, etc., is working. It’s frustrating. It makes me angry. It made me become a registered gun owner. I hate guns. Abhor them. But I live in a state where they think I should die. That my wife should die. So I took a class. Bought a gun. Keep it locked. But I also got my concealed carry permit just in case. I hate I have to do this to protect my family but I will because they will not control me and I will not cower in fear.
We’ve always been the shadow boogeyman but now they made us public enemy number 1. Why? Because they hate themselves. They do. They are unhappy, miserable people in loveless relationships so how dare we be happy. We should be miserable because we’re not cis-het people in a cis-het relationship. They hate us because we’re different but not really and how can we be happy with ourselves when they hate everyone and everything. This world is dark. It makes me sad. Mad. Furious. But I know there are more of us and our Allie’s than them. I just hope our allies keep their voices loud and stand shoulder to shoulder with us, and they don’t turn the other way, like they did when Hitler came for the Jews.
Something I thought about as the article mentioned how all ages events are becoming more popular in LGBTQ+ spaces – eventually, someone is going to go to one of these daytime events, and they’re going to kill our children. It may be time to consider having armed queer security, like the Black Panthers did. Maybe when they see us armed, we can get real legislation passed to stop firearms being so goddamn easy to acquire and use by these psychopaths.
Powerfully said! I think regularly about getting a gun for all the reasons you mention, but haven’t been able to bring myself to do it yet. That day may come, though.
I’m so fucking tired of this happening.
Natalie, thank you for your reporting, especially at a time like this
Yes, this. Thank you for this service Natalie. I heard the news earlier and I knew I could come to AS for more.
So sad and so tired.
Thank you for this comprehensive and quick reporting, Natalie.
Thank you for reporting on this. It hits close to home, since I’m sort of from Colorado Springs (I lived a few other places when I was younger, but the years in there were formative). I’ve never been to this club, but as my sister says, there are only so many gay people…and not that many LGBTQ+ spaces in the Springs. I thought that Colorado Springs was getting a bit more welcoming, if only marginally. I guess it was wishful thinking.
Thank you for post this Natalie, I know it must have been hard emotional labour on top of the reporting itself. 💜
I want to see legal action. I want to see EVERY bigot who calls a queer person (inc a drag queen) a “groomer” SUED INTO BANKRUPTCY. Take their every last cent! [see re the Sandy Hook families and Alex Jones
That will shut them up.
[Oh, and ban furking assault weapons, of course!]
This one really hits close to home. I went to college in Colorado Springs and that’s where I came out and found queer community. It’s a small community in a very conservative, militaristic town. Sad to see that not much has changed in the 20 years since I was there.
anyone know of online support or groups or anything? where are folks going for support? I’m just feeling so scared today. Love to you all
sending love to you too remi!
I want to see EVERY bigot who calls a queer person (inc a drag queen) a “groomer” SUED INTO BANKRUPTCY. T
Thanks for the continuing updates and the top-notch reporting <3
I want to see legal action. I want to see EVERY bigot who calls a queer person (inc a drag queen) a “groomer” SUED INTO BANKRUPTCY.