NATIONAL NEWS

Patrons in gay club shooting hit gunman with his own weapon

Nov 21, 2022, 5:35 AM | Updated: 6:37 am

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — As bullets tore through a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, killing five people and wounding many more, one patron who’d been partying moments before rushed into action, grabbing a handgun from the suspect, hitting him with it and pinning him down until police arrived just minutes later.

He was one of at least two customers who police and city officials credit with stopping the gunman and limiting the bloodshed in Saturday night’s shooting at Club Q. The violence pierced the cozy confines of an entertainment venue that has long been a cherished safe spot for the LGBTQ community in the conservative-leaning city.

“Had that individual not intervened this could have been exponentially more tragic,” Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers told The Associated Press.

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

Utahns react to mass shooting in Colorado Springs

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

Club Q on its Facebook page thanked the “quick reactions of heroic customers that subdued the gunman and ended this hate attack.” Investigators were still determining a motive and whether to prosecute it as a hate crime, said El Paso County District Attorney Michael Allen. Charges against the suspect will likely include first-degree murder, he said.

Already questions were being raised about why authorities didn’t seek to take Aldrich’s guns away from him in 2021, when he was arrested after his mother reported he threatened her with a homemade bomb and other weapons. Though authorities at the time said no explosives were found, gun control advocates are asking why police didn’t try to trigger Colorado’s “red flag” law, which would have allowed authorities to seize the weapons his mother says he had. There’s also no public record prosecutors ever moved forward with felony kidnapping and menacing charges against Aldrich.

Of the 25 injured at Club Q, at least seven were in critical condition, authorities said. Some were hurt trying to flee, and it was unclear if all of them were shot, a police spokesperson said. Suthers said there was “reason to hope” all of those hospitalized would recover.

The shooting rekindled memories of the 2016 massacre at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that killed 49 people. Colorado has experienced several mass killings, including at Columbine High School in 1999, a movie theater in suburban Denver in 2012 and at a Boulder supermarket last year.

It was the sixth mass killing this month and came in a year when the nation was shaken by the deaths of 21 in a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

Authorities were called to Club Q at 11:57 p.m. Saturday with a report of a shooting, and the first officer arrived at midnight.

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

Thurman, 34, said he ran with another person to a dressing room where someone already was hiding. They locked the door, turned off the lights and got on the floor but could hear the violence unfolding, including the gunman getting beaten up, he added.

“I could have lost my life — over what? What was the purpose?” he said as tears ran down his cheeks. “We were just enjoying ourselves. We weren’t out harming anyone. We were in our space, our community, our home, enjoying ourselves like everybody else does.”

Detectives were examining whether anyone had helped the suspect before the attack, Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said. He said 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 included a “punk and alternative show” preceding a birthday dance party, with a Sunday all-ages drag brunch.

Drag events have become a focus of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and protests recently as opponents, including politicians, have proposed banning children from them, falsely claiming they’re used to “groom” children.

To substantiate a hate-crime charge against Aldrich, prosecutors would have to prove he was motivated by the victims’ actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. So far, the suspect has not been cooperative in interviews with investigators and has not given them clear insight yet about the motivation for the attack, according to the official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

President Joe Biden said that while the motive for the shootings 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 spaces of acceptance and celebration should never be turned into places of terror and violence,” he said. “We cannot and must not tolerate hate.”

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, who became the first openly gay man to be elected a U.S. governor in 2018, called the shooting “sickening.”

“My heart breaks for the family and friends of those lost, injured and traumatized,” Polis said.

A makeshift memorial sprang up Sunday near the club, with flowers, a stuffed animal, candles and a sign saying “Love over hate” next to a rainbow-colored 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 getting dumped on you. … I’m just tired of running out of places where we can exist safely.”

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

Colorado Springs, a city of about 480,000 located 70 miles (112 kilometers) south of Denver, is home to the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Olympic Training Center, as well as Focus on the Family, a prominent evangelical Christian ministry that lobbies against LGBTQ rights. The group condemned the shooting and said it “exposes the evil and wickedness 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 came during Transgender Awareness Week and just at the start of Sunday’s International Transgender Day of Remembrance, when events around the world are held to mourn and remember transgender people lost to violence.

Since 2006, there have been 523 mass killings and 2,727 deaths as of Nov. 19, according to The Associated Press/USA Today database on mass killings in the U.S.

___

Bedayn is a corps member for The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

___

Associated Press reporters Colleen Slevin in Denver, Michael Balsamo in Washington, Jamie Stengle in Dallas, Jeff McMillan in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Matthew Brown in Billings, Montana, contributed.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

Second gentleman Douglas Emhoff (C), husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, delivers remarks duri...
DARLENE SUPERVILLE, Associated Press

Emhoff: ‘Epidemic of hate’ exists in US, mustn’t become norm

Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, says a rise in antisemitism in the United States shows that an “epidemic of hate” exists in the country and that it must not become normal.
16 hours ago
FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...
LOLITA C. BALDOR and KEVIN FREKING, Associated Press

Congress set to rescind COVID-19 vaccine mandate for troops

The COVID-19 vaccine mandate for members of the U.S. military would be rescinded under the annual defense bill heading for a vote this week in Congress.
16 hours ago
People wait in line of to see a demonstration Call of Duty WWII at the Activision exhibit on openin...
Associated Press

Microsoft strikes 10-year deal with Nintendo on Call of Duty

Microsoft has agreed to make the hit video game Call of Duty available on Nintendo for 10 years should its $69 billion purchase of game maker Activision Blizzard go through.
16 hours ago
A view of the substation while work is in progress Monday in Carthage, North Carolina. (Peter Zay/A...
John Miller, Jason Hanna and Whitney Wild, CNN

Nearly 2 dozen shell casings found in North Carolina electric substation shootings, sources say

Nearly two dozen shell casings from a high-powered rifle have been recovered from the sites where gunfire disabled two North Carolina electric substations last weekend and left much of a county without electricity service for days, according to law enforcement sources.
16 hours ago
Packages of Juul mint flavored e-cigarettes are displayed at San Rafael Smokeshop on November 07, 2...
MICHELLE CHAPMAN and MATTHEW PERRONE, AP Business Writers

Juul reaches settlements covering more than 5,000 cases

Electronic cigarette maker Juul Labs has reached settlements covering more than 5,000 cases brought by about 10,000 plaintiffs related to its vaping products.
16 hours ago
A new bodycam footage reveals what Gabby Petito told police about a domestic dispute with fiancé B...
Amanda Musa and Jamiel Lynch, CNN

Gabby Petito’s parents file motion to add Laundrie family attorney as defendant in an ongoing lawsuit

The parents of Gabby Petito have filed a motion to add Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino as a defendant in an ongoing civil lawsuit against Brian Laundrie's parents.
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Patrons in gay club shooting hit gunman with his own weapon