At least five people were killed and another 25 injured when a gunman opened fire inside an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Saturday night, according to authorities. “Heroic” patrons are credited with stopping the shooting before police arrived on the scene and arrested the 22-year-old suspect.
Officials say the number of injured people is subject to change, although at least seven people remain in critical care at Penrose Hospital, according to officials. It is not clear if those injured were all shot, as authorities said some were injured trying to escape the establishment.
Club Q, the nightclub where the shooting took place, released a statement after the attack.
“Club Q is devastated by the senseless attack on our community,” a statement on Facebook said. “Our pray[er]s and thoughts are with all the victims and their families and friends. We thank the quick reactions of heroic customers that subdued the gunman and ended this hate attack.”
The club had planned to host a drag brunch for all ages on Sunday in honor of Trans Day of Remembrance.
Here’s what we know thus far:
The gunman, who has been identified as Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, entered Club Q before midnight and immediately began shooting people with a “long rifle,” according to authorities. At least two people inside confronted and stopped the suspect from continuing to fire, Police Department Chief Adrian Vasquez said at a press conference on Sunday. “We owe them a great debt of thanks,” Vasquez said.
Authorities said they arrived on scene and arrested Aldrich five minutes after receiving a call about the tragedy at 11:57 p.m. Vasquez says authorities found two firearms on the scene, though the shooting appears to have been carried out by only one person.
Police said the suspect was injured, and was later transported to a nearby hospital.
Police say they will not identify any witnesses or victims as the investigation is still in its early stages. Authorities are also still working to notify family members of the deceased.
“I want every citizen in our city to know that the men and women of the Colorado Springs Police Department stand with you during this tragedy,” Vasquez said. “Club Q is a safe haven for our LGBTQ citizens. Every citizen has the right to feel safe and secure in our city to go about our beautiful city without fear of being harmed or treated poorly.”
The FBI is helping with the ongoing investigation.
What do we know about the suspect?
Anderson Lee Aldrich, a 22-year-old male, has not been charged in connection with the shooting yet.
Michael Allen, a District Attorney for the fourth judicial district, said that no official charges against Aldrich will be made until the case gets officially transferred to his office. No additional information has been released due to the ongoing nature of the investigation.
“I want to reassure the community that there is no ongoing threat that we are aware of, and that we will put every effort into holding any perpetrators involved with this reference act accountable,” Allen said during Sunday’s press conference.
Investigators have not yet identified an official motive for the shooting. They added that whether this was a hate crime is also under investigation. Aldrich will likely face class one felony murder charges regardless, according to Allen.
In June 2021, a man with a matching name and age was arrested in the Lorson Ranch neighborhood of Colorado Springs for a bomb threat. The man was in possession of a “homemade bomb, multiple weapons, and ammunition.” Howard Black, spokesman for the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, would not confirm to the Denver Post that this was the same suspect.
How have officials reacted?
Colorado Governor Jared Polis called the shooting “sickening. Polis was elected in 2018 and became the U.S.’s first openly gay governor.
“My heart breaks for the family and friends of those lost, injured, and traumatized in this horrific shooting. I have spoken with Mayor (John) Suthers and clarified that every state resource is available to local law enforcement in Colorado Springs,” Polis said. “Colorado stands with our LGTBQ community and everyone impacted by this tragedy as we mourn.”
President Joe Biden also addressed the travesty publicly, pointing out that the LGBTQ+ community has been subject to “horrific hate violence” in the past few years. He also called for a ban on assault weapons in a White House statement.
“Places that are supposed to be safe spaces of acceptance and celebration should never be turned into places of terror and violence. Yet it happens far too often,” Biden said. “We must drive out the inequities that contribute to violence against LGBTQI+ people. We cannot and must not tolerate hate.”
Other elected officials have also tweeted their support. Newly elected Rep. Maxwell Frost voiced his support to the victims, saying that people should not have to “live in fear of gun violence.” Rep. Adam Schiff of California said he was “horrified.”
Rep. Jason Crow, a Congressman representing Colorado’s 6th district, said he was thinking of the victims and their families and called for these types of attacks to end. “My heart is with our LGBTQ+ community as we all reel from this violence,” Crow tweeted.
This tragedy marks the 26th mass shooting this month, according to the Gun Violence Archive
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