Mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs

Authorities said on Sunday a gunman who opened fire at a Colorado gay nightclub – killing five and injuring 25 – was subdued by “heroic” well-wishers, who beat him with his own gun.

The attacker’s motive is not yet clear, but it is being investigated as a hate crime.

The gunman, identified by police as Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, opened fire at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colo., just before midnight Saturday, police said.

He was quickly taken into custody when police arrived minutes after receiving a call, authorities said.

Police barrier tape in front of a parking lot.

Police tape near the scene of the fatal shooting in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

(Thomas Peipert/Associated Press)

“At least two heroic people” confronted the gunman and stopped the shooting, Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said, adding, “We owe them a great debt of gratitude.”

One of the people in the bar took the gunman and hit him with it, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said in an interview with CNN.

Suthers called it an “incredible act of heroism”.

Of the 25 injured, 19 had gunshot wounds, Suthers said. None of them are “regarded as really critical,” said the mayor.

According to Vasquez, two firearms were found at the scene, including a “long gun.”

“My heart breaks for the family and friends of those who were lost, injured and traumatized in this horrific shooting,” the Colorado governor said. Jared Polis, who became the first openly gay man in the United States to be elected governor in 2018. He called the shooting “disgusting”.

On Sunday afternoon, groups of friends and couples walked to the entrance of the club’s parking lot and laid flowers next to a sign that read “Love not hate”.

Emily Paduch, 26, who identifies as bisexual, lives just down the road and said the club has been a haven for local LGBTQ people and others. “It was like the only safe place for everyone. It didn’t matter who you were,” Paduch said through tears.

Bucky Baldwin, 57, and his wife Lisa, 58, brought flowers to show their respect. Baldwin works in the music industry and the couple said they have many gay friends. Hatred of LGBTQ people must be combated, they said.

“There has to be a tolerance movement. There is an intolerance that has spread,” he said. “People just have to accept more.”

“How do you stop hate across generations?” Lisa Baldwin wondered.

The attack was over within minutes. Police received numerous 911 calls beginning at 11:56 p.m. and an officer arrived at midnight. The suspect was arrested at 12:02 a.m., police said.

Two people hug the morning after the shooting.

Jessy Smith Cruz hugs Jadzia Dax McClendon the morning after the shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs.

(Jason Connolly/AFP/Getty Images)

The suspect is being treated at a hospital, police said, adding that officers did not shoot at him.

In a statement, Club Q called the shooting a hate attack.

“Club Q is devastated by the senseless attack on our community,” the club posted on its Facebook page. It said its prayers are with victims and families, adding: “We thank the quick responses from heroic customers who overwhelmed the shooter and ended this hate attack.”

Bouquets of flowers and a sign reading "love over hate" on the floor next to police tape.

An improvised memorial in front of the nightclub in Colorado Springs.

(Jason Connolly/AFP/Getty Images)

The attack was the sixth mass killing in the United States this month and comes seven months after 21 people died in a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

Since 2006 there have been 523 mass murders in the US resulting in 2,727 deaths as of November 2019. January, according to the Associated Press/USA Today database of mass killings in the United States

President Biden and other political leaders have taken to social media to offer support and condolences.

“While no motive for this attack is yet clear, we know that the LGBTQI+ community has been subjected to horrific hate violence in recent years,” Biden wrote in a statement. “Gun violence continues to have a devastating and particular impact on LGBTQI+ communities in our country, and threats of violence are increasing.”

Sarah Kate Ellis, president of GLAAD, the world’s largest advocacy group for LGBTQ media, pointed to an alarming rise in hate speech and anti-gay laws are leading to such violence.

“You can draw a clear line from the false and vile rhetoric about LGBTQ people being propagated by extremists and amplified on social media, to the nearly 300 anti-LGBTQ laws introduced this year, to the dozens of attacks on our community like this.” Ellis wrote.

“This unspeakable attack left countless people deprived of their friends and family and the sense of security of an entire community,” Ellis added.

Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said the department was adding patrols and increasing “visibility,” noting that today is Trans Day of Remembrance. “America mourns another mass shooting,” he said.

For years, Club Q was the only gay club in Colorado Springs. “The whole idea of ​​this place [Club Q] is to have a safe place,” co-owner Nic Grzecka said in a 2020 interview with Colorado Springs Indy.

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