A 22-year-old man armed with a rifle walked into an LGBTQ night club in Colorado Springs late Saturday and opened fire, killing at least five people and wounding 18 others before he was stopped by at …
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A 22-year-old man armed with a rifle walked into an LGBTQ night club in Colorado Springs late Saturday and opened fire, killing at least five people and wounding 18 others before he was stopped by at least two club patrons.
The shooting, which lasted less than 10 minutes, is the latest episode of mass violence in Colorado. Authorities are investigating whether it was a hate crime.
A single gunman, identified by police as Anderson Lee Aldridge, entered Club Q with a long gun and began shooting immediately, Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said at a news conference early Sunday.
At least two “heroic” club patrons were able to subdue the gunman within minutes, he said. Club Q is at 3430 N. Academy Blvd, near Palmer Park, just northeast of downtown Colorado Springs. The suspect was taken to a hospital, but the extent of his injuries was not immediately known. Two victims were listed in critical condition.
“The motive is part of the investigation, and whether this is a hate crime is part of that investigation,” Vasquez said.
“We know one or more patrons heroically intervened to subdue the suspect and we praised those individuals who did so because their actions clearly saved lives,” Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers told reporters.
“We are a strong community that has shown strong resilience in the face of hate and violence in the past, and we will do so again.”
District Attorney Michael Allen said the gunman appeared to be acting alone.
“Actions taken to strike fear in specific communities will not be tolerated in our community,” Allen said.
Lt. Pam Castro, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Springs Police Department, said officers were first called to the scene at 11:57 p.m. “We did get numerous calls on this,” she said.
Castro said 911 callers reported there was an active shooter at the club. The first officers were on the scene by midnight and the suspect was detained at 12:02 a.m., Castro said at a news conference Sunday morning. It was not immediately clear how many people were in the club at the time of the shooting.
Castro said no police officers fired a gun during the event.
A social media post from Club Q indicates it was club patrons who helped stop the shooting. The club called the shooting a “hate attack.”
“The investigation is in the very initial stages,” Castro said at a news conference early Sunday, declining to discuss a motive for the shooting.
Castro said the number of dead and wounded “is subject to change as the investigation continues.”
Club Q posted on Facebook early Sunday that it “is devastated by the senseless attack on our community.”
“Our pray(ers) and thoughts are with all the victims and their families and friends,” the post said. “We thank the quick reactions of heroic customers that subdued the gunman and ended this hate attack.”
On Club Q’s website, the nightclub advertises a live DJ and dancing from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. every Saturday night, preceded by a drag show earlier in the night.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, the nation’s first openly gay governor, called the shooting “horrific, sickening, and devastating.”
“My heart breaks for the family and friends of those lost, injured, and traumatized in this horrific shooting,” Polis said in a written statement. “We are eternally grateful for the brave individuals who blocked the gunman likely saving lives in the process and for the first responders who responded swiftly to this horrific shooting. Colorado stands with our LGTBQ community and everyone impacted by this tragedy as we mourn together.”
Polis tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, so he was unable to travel to Colorado Springs to be with other state and local officials as they respond to the shooting.
More than 30 firefighters and 11 ambulances responded to the shooting. Ambulances transported three patients at a time to get as many victims to the hospital as fast as possible.
The shooting was declared a mass casualty event just before 12:10 a.m. Sunday, as first responders, who scrambled to Club Q en masse, began surveying the scene, according to emergency dispatch radio traffic archived on Broadcastify.com.
By about 12:15 a.m., first responders had located at least nine victims. A few minutes later, a first responder reported over the emergency radio that they were at a nearby 7-Eleven with “a patient who has been shot seven times.”
A few minutes after that, another first responder reported that they had “multiple criticals,” referring to people wounded in the attack.
Ambulances continued to transport victims to hospitals 30 minutes after the shooting, according to the emergency radio archives reviewed by The Colorado Sun.
Photos from outside of Club Q on Saturday night and early Sunday showed a swarm of police vehicles, ambulance and fire trucks. The FBI is assisting Colorado Springs police in their investigation into the shooting. Agents from the federal agency were already on scene Sunday morning.
“This scene is going to take some time to get through,” Castro said. “We will be here for many, many hours to come.”
Among those at the scene near the night club Sunday morning awaiting more information on the shooting was Carey Dowell, a longtime worker at KingPin bowling alley, which shares a parking lot with Club Q.
“It’s been there for 14, 15 years,” Dowell said. “They have their events. They fill up the parking lot. But we’ve never had any problems.”
Colorado Springs and Colorado have experienced a long list of mass shootings dating back to the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton.
The Club Q shooting is the worst mast shooting in Colorado since a gunman killed 10 people at a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder in March 2021.
The last mass shooting in Colorado Springs happened in May 2021, when a gunman opened fire at a birthday party, killing six people and himself. The gunman was the boyfriend of one of the victims.
In 2015, a gunman attacked a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Four were killed, including a police officer.
A few weeks before the Planned Parenthood shooting, a man walking near downtown Colorado Springs killed three people with a rifle, seemingly at random.
The shooting at Club Q is also the latest in a history of attacks on LGBT clubs nationally. In 2016, a gunman killed 49 people at an attack at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
In two Instagram posts on Saturday prior to the shooting, Club Q announced that Saturday night’s party would include a birthday celebration for a community member. In the second post, it announced that a Sunday brunch and drag show would recognize Transgender Day of Remembrance, which honors trans people who have been killed. The brunch, which is a regular event at the club, is billed as being “all ages,” meaning anyone is able to attend regardless of age. Such events have in recent years become focal points for protests by anti-LGBT groups.
As Colorado leaders awoke to the news of the shooting, many expressed their grief on social media. State Rep. Leslie Herod, the first openly gay Black woman elected to the state House of Representatives, wrote in a tweet that Club Q “is a place of refuge for so many, including myself.” Herod, who represents a district in Denver, attended high school in Colorado Springs, and calls it her hometown.
“I am both devastated and infuriated,” she wrote.
Sen. Michael Bennet issued a statement that he was “devastated” to hear about the shooting.
“I’m thinking of their families and loved ones, and sending strength to those who were injured, the survivors, and Colorado’s LGBTQ community,” he said. “As we seek justice for this unimaginable act, we must do more to protect the LGBTQ community and stand firm against discrimination and hate in every form.”
This story is from The Colorado Sun, a journalist-owned news outlet based in Denver and covering the state. For more, and to support The Colorado Sun, visit coloradosun.com. The Colorado Sun is a partner in the Colorado News Conservancy, owner of Colorado Community Media.
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