On Sunday, November 20th, Club Q in Colorado Springs was planning to host an “All Ages Musical Drag Brunch,” followed by an event for the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day set aside to honor the memory of transgender people who lost their lives as a result of transphobic violence. But on Saturday night, a shooter opened fire in the club, an act of unfathomable violence that would’ve wrought even more destruction had the gunman not been subdued by two club patrons, who took his gun and held him down until police arrived. So far, it has been reported that five people were killed and 25 more were injured.
These are the stories of those lost lives.
Daniel Davis Aston, 28
Twenty-eight-year-old Daniel Davis Aston, a trans man who co-workers remember as energetic, helpful, and bubbly; was a drag king, performer and bartender. He was also the baby of his family, according to his mother, Sabrina Aston, who told The Denver Post that Aston “never knew a stranger, from the time he was little.” Her son claimed to be shy “but he wasn’t.” He enjoyed writing poetry, dressing up, doing theater in high school. “He’s an entertainer. That’s what he really loves,” she remembered.
According to The Washington Post, Daniel’s partner, a drag performer, was also behind the bar when the shooting began, but he was successfully shielded from injury by two others. Sabrina was planning to host Daniel and his partner for Thanksgiving this week.
Daniel’s Instagram is filled with joyful memories: a recent trip to his hometown of Tulsa that involved tacos and carnival rides, results from his June 2021 top surgery, extreme close-ups of his adorable dog and glitter-soaked Pride celebrations with friends. The linktree in his bio isn’t self-promotional, it simply contains links to community-focused causes: Black Trans Women Funds, a BLM Donation Fund, a Black Trans Homeless Fund and a Black Trans Travel Fund.
Sabrina recalled a rough road of self-discovery for Daniel — he was bullied in middle school for being gender non-conforming and came out as gay to his family. “I knew he was trans,” Sabrina said. “But he hadn’t figured that out yet.” In college at Northeastern State University, he did. Although many mainstream media outlets have reported that Aston “transitioned” this past year, seemingly because he had gender affirmation surgery in 2021, he actually had been taking hormones and living as a man since the age of 19. He led an LGBTQ student group at Northeastern but didn’t finish his degree.
Around two years ago, Daniel moved to Colorado Springs to be closer to his parents and got a job at Club Q. He was saving up to return to school.
Whenever Sabrina’s friends or family were in town, she’d take them to Club Q to “show off Dan.” “It’s family friendly,” she said. “Not many parents go to those shows, but we were king and queen when we went there. They fawned over us — we never had to worry about drinks.”
Sabrina always worried about her son’s safety. “He’s a trans man. And you know the trans community are really the biggest targets I can think of right now,” she told the Post. “There has to be more exposure and acceptance. We have got to get our legislators and people high up to have a voice for us. There’s parents that — those are our children. We do not care, and no one else should either, how you dress or what you identify as. It doesn’t harm anybody.”
On New Year’s Eve 2021, Daniel posted a photo dump and a message of hope for 2022: “I’m so thankful for all the new friends I’ve made in 2021, and all the old ones who continue to let me bother them. Thanks for sticking around pals. I love you all so, so dearly. Last year was so incredibly full. I met a super special someone who I can’t get enough of, I got top surgery after years of waiting, I got an apartment in a state I’ve always wanted to live in. Here’s to 2022, bring it on.”
Kelly Loving, 40
Kelly, who’d recently moved to Denver, was visiting Club Q on a weekend trip. “She was loving, always trying to help the next person out instead of thinking of herself. She just was a caring person,” Kelly’s sister, Tiffany, told The New York Times.
Kelly’s close friend, 25-year-old Natalee Skye Bingham, had known Kelly for many years, originally meeting at Club Xtra in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She recalled that Kelly, a trans woman, was “tough” and “taught [her] how it was to be a trans woman and live your life day to day.” Natalee had been on a FaceTime call with Kelly a few minutes before the shooting began — Kelly was showing Natalee her outfit and promised to call her again after getting a drink — and Natalee been surprised Kelly was at the club at all.
“When I say this woman hated going out,” Natalee told The Denver Post, “she hated going out.”
Kelly, who was originally from Memphis, helped Natalee through her transition, sharing stories of the physical violence she’d been subject to herself. Despite this adversity, Natalee remembers Kelly having “the most confidence of anybody I had ever met before. She didn’t care what anybody thought about her or who she was because she knew she was genuine in her heart and that’s what mattered.”
Tiffany wrote in a statement to the Colorado Springs Police Department that “everyone loved her. Kelly was a wonderful person.”
Natalee considered Kelly her “trans mother,” recalling, “I looked up to her. In the gay community you create your families, so it’s like I lost my real mother almost.”
Derrick Rump, 38
Another Club Q bartender, Derrick Rump, “was all about keeping people happy,” according to Club Q performer Tiara Latrice Kelley. Originally from Berks County, Pennsylvania, he’d built a chosen family in Colorado Springs and loved his job.
Derrick’s friend Anthony Jaramillo remembered him as “loving, supportive, with a heavy hand in his drink pouring, and just a really good listener and would not be afraid to tell you when you were wrong instead of telling you what you wanted to hear and that was really valuable.”
Colorado College professor Bryant Ragan, who often saw Rump around campus as well as when Rump worked with the university’s catering service, Bon Appétit, to cater events at Ragan’s home, told The Denver Post, “he was also a little shy and a little retiring, but he was so curious and had a good sense of humor.” He recalled Rump always helping him calm his pre-event jitters, telling him “we’re going to take it from here, everything will be fine.”
“He really was the heart of Club Q,” a former Club Q DJ told The Post.
Derrick’s public Facebook photos are mostly quotes and affirmations, with a few exceptions, like photos from a Stevie Nicks concert in Red Rocks this past May, and photos with his mother. In July, he posted about the death of his brother, Dustin. Derrick, who was religious, wrote of his brother: “your [sic] with the angels that were always with you and allow them to show you the love that you desperately tried to embrace!”
Derrick’s page also includes pictures from an October drag show he performed in. One of the photos — of Rump still in drag makeup, but wigless with a baseball cap on, is captioned: “Thank you all that came and supported everyone in the show tonight you truly made all of our night with the love and commitment that you all showed us tonight! Thank you again and show that you are commitment to this community and to our local drag and family! I was overwhelmed ￼with the emotion and support that you all had thank you 🙏! I love you all.”
Ashley Paugh, 35
Ashley Paugh drove up to Colorado Springs from La Junta, California, on Saturday, with a female friend. They planned to eat, go shopping, and, according to her sister Stephanie Clark, were visiting Club Q that evening to see a stand-up comedian perform. Clark described Ashley as a loving mother and wife who “lived for” her 11-year-old daughter. She enjoyed hunting and fishing. “Nothing will ever be the same without her,” Clark told NBC News. “Right now, I don’t want to laugh. She was a loving, caring person who would do anything for anybody. We’re gonna miss her so much.”
Paugh’s husband, Kurt, said his wife was “just an amazing mother.” She worked at Kids Crossing, a nonprofit that finds homes for foster children, and would “do anything for the kids,” raising awareness, encouraging people to become foster parents and “working with the LGBTQ community to find welcoming foster placements for children.”
Paugh’s sister-in-law, Kimberly, posted on Facebook that Ashley and her husband were high school sweethearts. “My heart breaks for Ashley’s family and friends. Please keep all of them in your prayers.”
Raymond Green Vance, 22
Raymond Green Vance had never been to Club Q before, but was visiting with his girlfriend, Kassy, her parents, and her parents’ friends; to celebrate a birthday. According to a statement shared with News 11, Raymond was “a kind, selfless young adult with his entire life ahead of him” who friends describe as “gifted, one-of-a-kind, and willing to go out of his way to help anyone.” He’d recently started a new position at the FedEx distribution center and was trying to save money to get his own apartment. In the meantime, he was living with his mother and younger brother.
In high school, Raymond was a “popular, well-liked young man who never got into any trouble and had plenty of friends.” He spent most of his spare time with his girlfriend — his literal middle school sweetheart — and playing video games.
Kassy posted on Facebook about the death of her boyfriend of five years and four months. “theres a million pics and videos i could post here but in ur arms was the only place i ever felt safe,” she wrote. “u are my home. my heart. my everything. u changed my life. u made life worth living. u made me the happiest i ever been. laugh the hardest i ever have. meeting u was the best thing to ever happen to me.”
Commenters responded with support. One recalled going to high school with Kassy and Raymond and said, “you guys were goals. in highschool he was such a good friend to me.” Others remembered how funny and sweet Raymond was, describing him as always having a smile on his face.
A facebook post from Atrevida Beer Company in Colorado Springs, owned by Kassy’s parents, Jess and Rich Fierro, detailed their experience during the attack.
Atrevida Beer Co. in #ColoradoSprings is owned by Jess and Rich Fierro. The Atrevia FB claims Rich Fierro helped take down the gunman inside Club Q. They say his daughter's boyfriend died in the shooting.
Fierro is a veteran. No police confirmation yet, but he's also a hero. pic.twitter.com/rALPCCorql
— Spencer Soicher KRDO (@spencersoicher) November 21, 2022
According to Jess, they visited Club Q on Saturday night to celebrate their friends’ birthday. Kassy broke her knee running for cover, and their friends were shot multiple times. She added that Rich, a veteran, “injured both his hands, knees and ankles as he apprehended the shooter.” Rich Fierro gave an interview to The New York Times where he remembers “going into combat mode” when he went after the shooter, tackling him to the ground while calling for others to help him. A yet-to-be-named trans woman patron of the club helped him keep the shooter subdued.
“We are going to miss him and his bright smile so much,” Jess wrote of Raymond. “We are going through a lot of emotions as a family and as a brewery. The loss of lives and the injured are in our hearts. We are devastated and torn. We love our #lgbtq community and stand with them. This cowardly and despicable act of hate has no room in our lives or business.”
Donations to help the victims and their families are being facilitated through the Colorado Healing Fund.