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Club Q was a nightclub turned into a real life nightmare. On Saturday night, November 19, 2022, Colorado Springs Police received their first of many 911 calls at 11:56pm. People were reporting a shooter that was actively firing at club-goers. Police had the suspect in custody at approximately 12:02am, only six minutes later, but by then, it was too late.
Club Q is a gay nightclub, or what was formerly known as a safe haven for LGBTQ+ people. The club had hosted a punk-themed drag show earlier in the evening performed by Del Lusional. Flyers for the event promised “dancing til 2am” and the cover was only $7. What ended up occurring after the event has shattered the club’s vivacious reputation.
The shooting began when bartender Micheal Anderson was mixing drinks and started to hear pops. Anderson told reporters at CNN that he wasn’t worried, because they sounded like sound effects that were common in the type of music playing. When he looked up from his drinks, he was stunned by the reality of the situation.
“I saw the outline of a man wearing a rifle at the entrance of the club,” Micheal said. It is suspected that the shooter did not wait to open fire as soon as they entered the club. Micheal ducked behind the bar for his own safety, but others were not as lucky. The six minutes of terror left at least nineteen people injured, and resulted in five casualities. The five people killed were named Daniel Aston, Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh, Derrick Rump and Raymond Green Vance.
One man did not hide from the shooter, but instead took action. Army veteran Richard Fierro was attending the drag show for a birthday celebration with his wife, daughter, and several friends.
When shots rang out, Fierro told reporters that “I was in fighting mode. I was doing what I did down range. I trained for this,” he also shared that he served three tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.
Fierro ran across the room to the shooter and pulled him down. Another man named Thomas James also assisted in taking down the gunman. James kicked the rifle away from the shooter, and Fierro removed a pistol that was on the shooter’s body and used it to hit a crease between the shooter’s armor and head. James kicked him in the head as well, and a drag performer kicked him with her high heels on. They continued holding the shooter down until police arrived and took him away.
The name of the mass murderer is Anderson Lee Aldrich, a 22 year-old white male. Once police detained him, he was taken to be treated at a hospital. Aldrich remained hospitalized until late Monday morning on November 21. Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said the suspect had not made any statements to police, despite their attempts to interview him for the investigation.
It was discovered that Aldrich had been previously arrested in June 2021 in connection with a bomb threat to his own mother. The threat led to a standoff in the front yard of his mother’s house, in which he surrendered with his hands up after hours of negotiation. Neighboring houses were requested to evacuate for their own safety. The entire standoff was recorded by the mother’s Ring doorbell camera, in which Aldrich was belittling the police with vulgar language. Aldrich also had his own video recording while he was still in the home, where he threatened to “blow it all to holy hell.” It is not publicly clear how the case was resolved, but Aldrich received no formal charges for the bomb threats.
Aldrich was faced with several charges for the shooting in Colorado. The El Paso County Courts announced that he is charged with five counts of first degree murder and five counts of a bias-motivated crime causing bodily injury.
People continue to mourn the lives lost, and the assault on a community’s safe place. Flowers have been left and candles are being lit outside of the club to grieve the traumatic event. Colorado governor Jared Polis, the nation’s first openly gay governor, ordered flags to be lowered at half-staff at all public buildings statewide for five days to honor the five victims killed at Club Q. The rainbow pride flag will also be flown at the state capitol for the same period of time.
The state of Colorado expresses that they do not stand for hate crimes such as this, and is working to take progressive action in order to prevent future situations like these. The people want peace in the community, and hopefully one day, they will receive it.