Mourners gathered Monday to commemorate those killed in a horrific attack on an LGBTQ nightclub in the US city of Colorado Springs, Colo., along with more information about the victims and suspected perpetrators — and the “heroes” who helped have to stop the bloodshed – arises.
Club Q in Colorado Springs has been something of a sanctuary for the city’s queer community for over two decades. But on Saturday night, the security it had consistently provided for its attendees was brutally breached after a gunman – believed to be 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich – entered the site and opened fire, killing five and injuring up to 19 others. A specific motive, or lack thereof, has yet to be officially established, although some are already labeling it a homophobic hate crime.
The identities of the shooter’s victims have been identified. They are: Kelly Loving, 40, a trans woman who was visiting Colorado Springs for the weekend; Daniel Aston, 28, a bartender at Club Q who has been affectionately dubbed the “master of silly deals” for his entertaining performances; Derrick Rump, 38, another bartender described by clubgoers as a “staple” and nightclub life; Raymond Green Vance, 22, a Colorado Springs resident who had just landed his first real job and was visiting the bar with his girlfriend; and Ashley Paugh, 35, a wife and mother of five who was in town to see a stand-up comedian.
More information also emerged about two men who helped thwart the shooter and lessen the impact of the shooting, who were widely hailed as “heroes.” Richard Fierro, father of Vance’s girlfriend and a 45-year-old Army veteran, disarmed the gunman while Thomas James helped him.
“Her exact actions are part of the investigation, so we cannot discuss the specifics out of respect for the court process, but with her permission, we would like to acknowledge her heroic actions,” the Colorado Springs Police Department tweeted to identify and honor both Fierro and James .
Since the attack, a makeshift memorial has emerged near the nightclub where mourners have gathered to pray, lay flowers and comfort one another. Additional vigils are planned throughout Colorado this week.
In response to the attack, US President Joe Biden released a statement recognizing the “horrific hate violence” that the country’s LGBTQ community has faced in recent years and condemning how “another community in America is ha…[d] was torn apart by force of arms.”
The Colorado Springs nightclub shooting is one in a series of gun attacks targeting the LGBTQ community in the United States. The deadliest event to date occurred on June 12, 2016 at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, which killed 49 people.