On the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, a 22-year-old gunman opened fire inside a Colorado Springs queer nightclub Saturday, fatally wounding five individuals and injuring at least twenty-five others; patrons inside Club Q are being praised for their bravery and ability to overpower the suspected shooter.
Like most queer bars and nightclubs, Club Q existed as a safe space for members of the LGBTQIA+ community. But the bar at 3430 North Academy Boulevard in Colorado Springs became a stage for a mass shooting Saturday evening.
Our annual Epidemic Of Violence report addresses the senseless violent epidemic claiming the lives of trans & gender non-conforming people. In a devastating turn of events, the tragic shooting in Colorado Springs underscores that this violence continues. https://t.co/XVzeH8N7Nm— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) November 20, 2022
According to the New York Times, Colorado Springs police received the first call about a shooting at the nightclub around midnight; within six minutes of the call, officers entered Club Q and had taken the suspected shooter into custody; Lieutenant Pamela Castro, a spokeswoman with the Colorado Springs Police Department (CSD), said to the newspaper that the suspect has also sustained injuries and is currently being treated at a hospital.
Details shared by CSPD reveal five people have died from the act of gun violence. Initial information said at least eighteen others were injured after the shooting, but updated figures published by CNN show that at least twenty-five people were injured.
The City’s police chief, Adrian Vasquez, said in a news conference Sunday that the gunman used a long rifle; two guns in total were recovered at the club; CSPD has identified the suspect as 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich.
Aside from his age, police haven't released any more information on the suspect, like his photo, nor have they shared a motive for the shooting.
"The motive of the crime is part of the investigation and whether this was a hate crime is part of that investigation," Vasquez said in a statement published by CBS News Colorado.
However, as the prior-mentioned news outlet, several different Colorado Springs news outlets reported in 2021 that a man with the same name and age as Aldrich was arrested in a case involving a possible bomb threat. This person was later charged with two counts of “felony menacing" and three counts of "first-degree kidnapping," according to the El Paso Sheriff's Office. Again: It has not been confirmed that this is the same person as the alleged shooter.
A man present in the club when the shooting spoke to CBS News Colorado about what he experienced.
"I lost friends," Joshua Thurman, later saying that he's "not okay."
Thurman initially believed the five muffled blasts he heard were part of the music — but it wasn't until he caught a glimpse of the gun's muzzle that he took action and ran for safety.
"I heard another set of shots ring out and I saw the flash of the muzzle when I looked to my left and I took off running to the dressing room," he continued. "Immediately, I locked the door and turned off all the lights."
Per the New York Times, the FBI is now involved in the investigation, as well.
Club Q released a statement on Facebook early Sunday about the shooting, which can be read in its entirety below:
Club Q is devastated by the senseless attack on our community. Our prays 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.
It remains unclear if the crime was hate-motivated.
Government officials, including President Biden and House Speaker Pelosi, have released statements condemning the attack and offering condolences to the families, friends, and others affected by this mass shooting — which echoes the tragedy experienced on June 12, 2016, when 29-year-old Omar Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53 more in a mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
Americans awoke this morning to horrific news: a brutal attack on an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs. Our hearts break at the senseless slaughter of least five beautiful souls and the many more injured or forever traumatized, at what was a sanctuary of safety and solidarity.— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) November 20, 2022
"Americans awoke this morning to horrific news: a brutal attack on an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs," reads the first in a series of tweets from Pelosi. "Our hearts break at the senseless slaughter of at least five beautiful souls and the many more injured or forever traumatized, at what was a sanctuary of safety and solidarity. Pelosi later added that this attack only further "[shattered] the sense of safety of LGBTQ Americans across the country."
Thank you to the heroic individuals who stopped the gunman & to the brave first responders at the scene. May it be a comfort to the loved ones of those murdered & the Colorado Springs community that America mourns with them during this devastating time. https://t.co/XCQzs5htxe— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) November 20, 2022
Biden's full statement in regards to the shooting at Club Q — which included a denouncement of the "epidemic of violence and murders against transgender women" — can be read below
While no motive [for] this attack is yet clear, we know that the LGBTQI+ community has been subjected to horrific hate violence in recent years. Gun violence continues to have a devastating and particular impact on LGBTQI+ communities across our nation and threats of violence are increasing. We saw it six years ago in Orlando when our nation suffered the deadliest attack affecting the LGBTQI+ community in American history. We continue to see it in the epidemic of violence and murder against transgender women – especially transgender women of color. And tragically, we saw it last night in this devastating attack by a gunman wielding a long rifle at an LGBTQI+ nightclub in Colorado Springs.
The recent Club Q mass shooting is now one of at least 601 mass shootings recorded so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
*We will continue updating this post as more information about the Club Q shooting is made public.
Photo: Screenshot via Google Maps