A gunman has attacked an LGBTQ club in Colorado, killing at least five people and injuring 25 others. The incident was likely to have begun before midnight, as many clubbers started calling 911 a few minutes before midnight.
Five people have been killed, and 25 others are injured,” Colorado Spring’s website said. “Victims are being treated at both UC Health Memorial and Penrose hospitals. The names of the victims are not being released until their families are notified.”
Club Q, a club specially designed for gays, was holding a dance party when the gunman, identified as Anderson Lee Aldrich, entered. The police said the 22-year-old, caught with two firearms inside the club, was arrested following the incident and is currently receiving treatment in detention. The Police added that the authorities could not confirm if the attacker worked with others or if what happened was a hate crime.
“Initial evidence and interviews indicate that the suspect entered Club Q and immediately began shooting at people inside as he moved further into the club,” Police chief Adrian Vasquez told reporters on Sunday.
Heroic clubbers prevented further shootings
The death toll could have been higher than five if not for the efforts of at least two people inside the club. The two men were said to have interrupted the shooter before fighting him to a standstill.
The Mayor of Colorado Springs, John Suthers, described what the men did as a “true act of heroism.” He said the man (possibly two men) took the handgun from the man and disabled him, preventing him from causing more harm.
“It could have been much worse, but for these heroic actors,” John Suthers stated.
Police chief Adrian Vasquez thanked the two men for their role in curbing what could have been a more deadly disaster.
“While the suspect was inside the club, at least two heroic people inside the club confronted and fought with the suspect and were able to stop the suspect from continuing to kill and harm others,” Adrian Vasquez said. “We owe them a great debt of thanks.”
The club also thanked the customers for standing in the shooter’s way and stated that their prayers are with the victims and families of the “senseless attack.”
“We thank the quick reactions of heroic customers that subdued the gunman and ended this hate attack,” Club Q said on its Facebook page.
No one could understand what happened better than Jeremiah Griffith, the security head at the Club. He said he was watching the CCTV security footage when he saw the shooter entering the club, carrying something that looked like a weapon.
“I saw the gunman drive up to the building, get out, and I heard the first initial shot. At that time, I had to do what I had to do to protect those (elsewhere) in the building,” Griffith said.
Griffith said the customers were having fun at the time of the shooting, insisting that nothing was out of place.
“It was a great vibe, everybody was having fun. There was no drama,” he said.
Like Griffith, most customers have described Club Q as a safe haven and a strategic point for the LGBTQ community in Colorado’s second-biggest city.
Another eyewitness, Joshua Thurman, who was a customer at the Club, said he heard the gunshots, but at first, he thought it was part of the music.
Joshua Thurman said: “We heard everything. We heard more shots fired. We heard the assailant being beaten up by someone that I assumed tackled him. We heard the police come in. We heard them yelling at him. We heard them saying, ‘Take certain people because they’re critical.'”
Thurman said he took shelter in the club’s dressing room after realizing that the gunshots were not parts of the music.
“When I came out there were bodies on the floor, shattered glass, broken cups, people crying,” he said.
Colorado’s Gay governor says he’s heartbroken
Jared Polis, the first gay governor in the United States, said he was heartbroken by Saturday’s incident. He described the incident as “horrific, sickening, and devastating.”
“Colorado stands with our LGTBQ community and everyone impacted by this tragedy as we mourn together,” Polis said in a statement.
Governor Polis was not alone in condemning the attack at Club Q. The two Senators from the state also described the incident with harsh words and stressed the need to protect the LGBTQ community from hate.
What top American officials said
There would not be gun violence in the United States without President Biden raising an alarm. He is arguably the loudest advocate of gun control in the country.
“Today, yet another community in America has been torn apart by gun violence,” Joe Biden said. “More families left with an empty chair at the table and hole in their lives that cannot be filled.”
Biden used the opportunity to advocate for gun control and state the need to do more to curb gun violence in the country. “We need to enact an assault weapons ban to get weapons of war off America’s streets,” he said.
“Today, Jill and I are praying for the families of the five people killed in Colorado Springs last night, and for those injured in this senseless attack,” the statement continued.
Camala Harris, the Vice president of the United States, was not far from her boss. She described gun violence in America as an epidemic that struck again on Saturday.
“The epidemic of gun violence in America has struck again in Colorado Springs. Our hearts are with the families and loved ones of the five people killed and all those injured. The LGBTQI+ community should be able to enjoy a night out without fear, as should all Americans,” Camala Harris wrote on Twitter.
The number three citizen of the United States and speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, described Saturday’s shooting as a “senseless slaughter” and called club Q as “a sanctuary of safety and solidarity.”
“The attack on Club Q, on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, is despicable — further shattering the sense of safety of LGBTQ Americans across the country,” Pelosi stated, adding that Democrats were working hard to combat gun violence, but there was the need for more.