Five people were killed and least 25 other people were injured in a mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs late in the evening on November 19, just minutes before the clock struck midnight on Transgender Day of Remembrance.
Police officers responded to calls of an active shooter at 11:57 p.m. local time at Club Q Colorado Springs on an evening when the nightclub hosted a drag show at 9 p.m.
Responding officers arrived on the scene and took the suspect into custody, according to Lieutenant Pamela Castro of the Colorado Springs Police Department.
Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said the suspect, 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, started shooting immediately upon arriving at the club but was hindered by military veteran Richard Fierro, who was in attendance with his wife, daughter, and friends. Fierro allegedly tackled the shooter and beat him with his own gun. He then directed a drag artist to use high heels to stomp on the attacker.
The gunman wore body armor and had an AR-15-style assault rifle.
Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers commended attendees at the club, saying “their actions clearly saved lives.”
“And that’s largely because of the intervention of at least one, possibly two very heroic individuals, who subdued this guy, appeared to have taken his handgun,” Suthers told CNN’s Jim Acosta. “He had a handgun with him, and (they) used it to disable him, not shoot him, but to hit him with the gun and disable him.”
Previous reports indicate that someone with the same name as the alleged shooter was previously responsible for bomb threats in the Colorado Springs area. On June 18 of last year, Aldrich was booked on two charges of felony menacing and three charges of kidnapping after someone called police to say her son was threatening to harm her with a homemade bomb, multiple weapons, and ammunition, according to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office in Colorado Springs.
Some details about the victims started emerging later in the day on November 20. The Gazette, a Colorado Springs newspaper, reported that two people who died were bartenders Derrick Rump, a co-owner of the bar, and Daniel Davis Aston, a 28-year-old trans man who was known by friends as a drag king, performer, and bartender. Aston’s parents told The Denver Post that he “wrote poetry, he loved to pay dress up,” and he was “an entertainer.”
The other victims included 38-year-old Derrick Rump, a bartender at Club Q; 40-year-old Kelly Loving, a trans woman who recently moved to Denver and was visiting the club on a weekend trip; Raymind Green, 22, who was attending the club with his girlfriend and her father; and 35-year-old Ashley Paugh, a mother and wife who volunteered with children at a foster care.
The attack at the LGBTQ club came just hours before a drag brunch and an evening drag show were scheduled to take place on Transgender Day of Remembrance.
Out gay Governor Jared Polis also praised those who stopped the attack.
“We are eternally grateful for the brave individuals who blocked the gunman, likely saving lives in the process,” Polis said in a written statement on the morning of November 20. “Colorado Springs stands with out LGBTQ community and everyone impacted by this tragedy as we mourn.”
Polis described the shooting as “horrific, sickening, and devastating.”
The FBI announced on November 20 that it was assisting the Colorado Springs Police Department, and it was not immediately clear what motivated the shooting, but it came during a time of heightened transphobia and homophobia nationwide — particularly as elected officials and the far right continue to target drag shows, transgender individuals, and the broader LGBTQ community.
“I can promise you that the DA’s office will put together a strong team, and we will work tirelessly to achieve justice,” the local district attorney, Michael Allen of Judicial District 4, said on November 20.
The nightclub posted on social media early on November 20.
“Club Q is devastated by the senseless attack on our community,” the statement said. “Our prayers 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.”
Colorado-based LGBTQ organizations also spoke out against the mass shooting. Nadine Bridges, the executive director of One Colorado, a statewide advocacy group, said safe spaces are far to often becoming “places of grief, trauma, and sorrow due to gun violence.”
“One Colorado calls on our local, state, and federal lawmakers to go beyond statements and condolences and take swift, exacting action to ensure public safety,” Bridges said. “It is imperative to protect every single person in our communities–especially our most vulnerable, on which gun violence has taken an enormous toll.
Inside Out Youth Services, which provides support to LGBTQ youth in Colorado Springs, also issued a statement responding to the shooting.
“We are absolutely devastated by the horrific act of violence at Club Q in Colorado Springs last night,” Inside Out Youth Services said in a written statement. “Our community is mourning the loss of five loved ones today, along with their friends and family. Here in Colorado Springs, Inside Out Youth Services works with young people every day to build community, and the youth we serve deserve better — they deserve to be safe from fear, threats, and violence. We call on Colorado’s leaders to step up and condemn this hateful attack and condemn the anti-LGBTQIA2+ rhetoric that fueled it. Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance, when we mourn the lives of transgender people who have been killed. This mass shooting has compounded the pain already felt so keenly by our community.”
As news of the shooting unfolded, reaction came in from across the country. Out gay Congressmember David Cicilline of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus expressed condolences and acknowledged that the shooting coincided with Transgender Day of Remembrance.
“As we mark Transgender Day of Remembrance today, we are further reminded that deadly violence against members of our community is sadly not new,” Cicilline said in a written statement. “We know the toxic combination of hate and access to guns in this country leads to deadly results. We must honor the lives lost in this shooting and all LGBTQ+ lives lost due to violence with action—action to address the twin epidemics of hate and gun violence in this country.”
President Joe Biden spoke out about the shooting by voicing sympathy for the victims while emphasizing that the nation “must address the public health epidemic of gun violence in all of its forms.”
“While no motive in this attack is yet clear, we know that the LGBTQI+ community has been subjected to horrific hate violence in recent years,” Biden said in a written statement. “Gun violence continues to have a devastating and particular impact on LGBTQI+ communities across our nation and threats of violence are increasing. We saw it six years ago in Orlando, when our nation suffered the deadliest attack affecting the LGBTQI+ community in American history. We continue to see it in the epidemic of violence and murder against transgender women – especially transgender women of color. And tragically, we saw it last night in this devastating attack by a gunman wielding a long rifle at an LGBTQI+ nightclub in Colorado Springs…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.”
New York Governor Kathy Hochul condemned the attack and announced that flags on state government buildding would be at half-staff following the mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs.
“The senseless loss of life in Colorado Springs is yet another tragedy due to gun violence and discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community,” Hochul said. “New York is the birthplace of the LGBTQ+ rights movement, and we will continue to stand with the community so that every New Yorker can live with the dignity and equality they deserve. My administration will continue our efforts to prevent hate crimes and speak out against hatred and bigotry.”
Out gay State Senator Brad Hoylman of Manhattan issued a written statement denouncing the shooting and underscoring the need for further action — including here in New York.
“On this Transgender Day of Remembrance and as a gay elected official from New York, I stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community in Colorado Springs after the mass shooting at Club Q that has resulted in the murder of at least five people and injured dozens more,” Holyman said. “This latest violence directed at our community has been sown by anti-LGBTQ hatred from the ultra-MAGA right wing and facilitated by the roll back of gun safety laws across our country. It is a sad reality that in many parts of the country it’s easier to purchase an assault rifle than it is to seek gender-affirming care for your child. As we memorialize the victims in Colorado, we must continue our efforts in Albany to protect LGBTQ people from hatred, gun violence and discrimination.”
Out State Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas of Queens also posted on Twitter.
“I’m devastated by the news of a shooting at an LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs,” González-Rojas wrote. “I’m keeping our siblings in my heart and mind as we mourn the tragedy of lives lost and many wounded by this hateful act. Queer and trans folks deserve to be safe!”
Vigils were already planned across the country on November 20 to mark Transgender Day of Remembrance. Groups have already started to adjust their plans in response to the Colorado Springs shooting. Gays Against Guns, which hosted a community gathering at 4 p.m. at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, issued an updated post of the event acknowledging the shooting: “ANOTHER MASS SHOOTING IN A GAY BAR. COLORADO SPRINGS.”