What we know about the Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs



CNN

A 22-year-old gunman killed at least five people and wounded 25 others at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, just before midnight Saturday, police said Sunday.

The suspect in the shooting at Club Q was identified as Anderson Lee Aldrich, according to Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez.

Upon entering the club, he immediately opened fire before at least two people inside the club confronted and fought him, preventing further violence, Vasquez said.

“We owe them a big debt of thanks,” he said.

Aldrich was hospitalized, police said. The officer did not shoot him, police said.

Colorado has seen some of the worst mass shootings in US history, including the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School. Last year in Colorado Springs, a mass shooting at a birthday party left six dead.

Here’s what we know about the fatal shooting in Colorado Springs:

The violence lasted only a few minutes. Police received multiple 911 calls starting at 11:56 a.m., officers were dispatched at 11:57 a.m., an officer arrived at midnight and the suspect was taken into custody at 12:02 a.m., police said. A total of 39 patrol officers responded, police said, and Fire Department Capt. Mike Smaldino said 11 ambulances went to the scene.

Aldrich used a long gun in the shooting and two firearms were found at the scene, said Vasquez, the police chief.

Joshua Thurman told CNN affiliate KOAA he was inside a dance club when he heard gunshots and saw a muzzle flash.

“I thought it was music, so I kept dancing,” he said. When he heard another shot, Thurman said he ran into the dressing room to hide.

He said he heard more gunshots, people crying and windows breaking. When he came out, he saw a body lying on the ground, broken glass and blood, Thurman said.

Authorities initially said 18 people were injured but later adjusted the number to 25.

Nineteen of the 25 injured had gunshot wounds, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers told CNN’s Jim Acosta Sunday. Based on communications with medical personnel, Suthers said he hopes the injured survive and the public is “crossing our fingers” for no more fatalities.

Police said they were investigating whether the attack was a hate crime, citing Club Q’s ties to the LGBTQ community. The shooting comes as the calendar turns to Transgender Day of Remembrance on Sunday.

“Club Q is a safe place for our LGBTQ residents,” Vasquez said. “Every citizen has the right to feel safe and secure in our city, to walk through our beautiful city without fear of being tortured or treated badly.”

In a statement on social media, Club Q said it was “devastated by this senseless attack on our community” and thanked “the quick reaction of heroic customers who subdued the gunman and stopped this hateful attack.”

Two law enforcement sources confirmed that the date of birth and name of the alleged nightclub shooter matched those arrested for bomb threats the previous year, and Colorado Governor Jared Polis also told CNN he believed they were the same: “Everything I’ve heard indicates it’s the person the same,” said Polis.

Anderson Lee Aldrich was arrested in June 2021 after an altercation at the Colorado Springs home where his mother lived, according to a press release from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office at the time, and his mother’s former landlord.

Video obtained by CNN shows Aldrich surrendering to law enforcement last year after allegedly making a bomb threat. Footage from the house’s Ring door camera shows Aldrich exiting the house with his hands up and barefoot, and walking to the sheriff’s deputies.

Sheriff’s deputies said in a June release that they were responding to a report by Aldrich’s mother that he had “threatened to harm her with a homemade bomb, multiple weapons, and ammunition.”

Deputies called the suspect, and he “refused to comply with orders to surrender,” the press release said, leading to the evacuation of a nearby home.

A few hours after the initial police call, the sheriff’s crisis negotiation unit was able to get Aldrich to her home, and she was taken into custody after walking out the front door. Authorities found no explosives at the home.

It is unclear how the case was resolved. But the Colorado Springs Gazette reported that the district attorney’s office said no formal charges were being pursued in the case. The district attorney’s office did not respond to a request for comment from CNN.

Aldrich also called the News in an effort to get a previous story about the 2021 incident removed from the website, the newspaper reported. “There’s nothing there, the case is dropped, and I’m asking you to remove or update the story,” Aldrich said in the voice message, according to the News.

CNN’s efforts to reach Aldrich’s mother for comment were unsuccessful.

Club Q opened in 2002 and is, until now, the only LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs.

The city is the second most populous in the country with just under 500,000 residents and is home to several military bases. It is the headquarters for Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian group that says homosexuality and same-sex marriage are sinful.

In a July 2020 interview with the Colorado Springs Indy, Q Club Owner Nic Grzecka said he and his business partners opened the club to get a “permanent” safe place in the city.

The venue also hosts events for people of all ages, including brunch and plans for an upcoming Thanksgiving event.

Colorado Springs Lifelong Resident Tiana Nicole Dykes called Club Q “a second home full of chosen families.”

“I’m there every week if not every week. This space means the world to me. The energy, the people, the message. It’s an amazing place that doesn’t deserve this tragedy,” Dykes told CNN on Sunday. “Something like a mass shooting in the space the LGBT+ safe is damaging beyond belief. There was a feeling of disrespect, disbelief, and just shock. No one thinks that it will happen to them, and sometimes it does.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat and the nation’s first openly gay governor, issued a statement Sunday calling the attack “horrific, sickening and devastating” and offered state resources to local law enforcement.

“We are forever grateful for the brave people who stopped the gunman who likely saved lives in the process and for the first responders who responded quickly to this horrific shooting,” he said. “Colorado stands with our LGTBQ community and all those affected by this tragedy as we mourn together.”

Polis told CNN’s Jim Acosta there are only two gay bars in Colorado Springs, and Club Q is one of the main venues.

“Everyone knows it. I know it, know this place. It’s just shocking. It’s still settling for people. But I know we will rise again. We show love to others. We show healing to others,” said the governor.

Colorado’s two US senators, both Democrats, offered condolences in a statement and said more should be done for the LGBTQ community.

“We must protect LGBTQ lives from this hate,” said Sen. John Hickenlooper.

“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,” said Sen. Michael Bennett.

President Joe Biden also released a statement saying he was praying for the victims and their families.

“While no motive in this attack is clear, we know that the LGBTQI+ community has experienced horrific hate violence in recent years. Gun violence continues to have a devastating and specific impact on LGBTQI+ communities across our nation and the threat of violence is increasing ,” Biden said in a written statement.



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