Q Club Shooting: As Colorado Springs grips with grief after a mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub, officials are investigating whether the crime was a prejudice-motivated crime = Colorado



CNN

The mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, which killed five people and injured more than a dozen over the weekend, is being investigated as a biased crime as survivors deal with trauma and grief after the attack.

Club Q, known in the Colorado Springs area as a safe haven for the LGBTQ community, turned into a crime scene late Saturday when a gunman fired shots at guests. Five people were killed and 19 injured, including 17 with gunshot wounds, police said.

Officials identified those killed as Daniel Aston, Raymond Green Vance, Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh and Derrick Rump.

Two people at the nightclub, Richard Fierro and Thomas James, subdued the attacker before officers arrived just minutes after the shooting began, police said.

Fierro, a former army major who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, told CNN in an emotional interview Monday that the violence and trauma experienced during the shooting is similar to that found in a war zone.

“My daughter and wife should never have seen a fight in Colorado Springs. And everyone in that building had a fight that night, not of their own free will, but because they were forced to,” Fierro said through tears. “That’s a lot for any human being.”

Fierro was at the nightclub celebrating a birthday with his wife and daughter. His daughter’s boyfriend, Raymond Green Vance, was also there and was killed.

“I’m not a hero. I’m just a guy who wanted to protect his kids and his wife and I still couldn’t protect her boyfriend,” Fierro said.

Barrett Hudson was also at the club that night and was shot seven times while trying to flee the fire.

“I ran backwards and was shot. I knew I’d been shot a few times. i fell down He continued shooting at me. I got up again. I made it out the back of the club,” Hudson told CNN.

After taking his first steps since Monday’s shooting, he said he was incredulous that he survived.

“Seven bullets missed my spine, missed my liver, missed my colon,” Hudson said. “I was really, really lucky.”

He added: “I didn’t expect to make it. I didn’t fucking expect to run once I do.”

While many others mourn those who didn’t make it out alive and survivors recover from another mass shooting in the US, questions remain about the motivation for the attack.

Authorities identified the suspected shooter as Anderson Lee Aldrich, who remained hospitalized Monday after being crushed by Fierro and James. Fierro said he hit the suspect with one of his guns while others kicked him in the head.

Aldrich, 22, faces five counts of first-degree murder and five counts of prejudice-motivated felony assault, according to an online listing by El Paso County courts. Michael Allen, District Attorney for El Paso County, home of Colorado Springs, said no formal charges have been filed and those on the indictment are preliminary and subject to change.

The filing does not reflect whether Aldrich hired an attorney. Allen said after Aldrich was transferred to prison from a medical facility, he will make his first appearance via video.

“It is important that when we have enough evidence to support bias-motivated crimes, that we prosecute. It’s important to this community,” Allen said during a news conference.

Hate crimes in Colorado are labeled “prejudice-motivated” crimes, Allen told CNN Monday.

Saturday’s shooting is one of several high-profile mass shootings that have occurred in Colorado, including the 1999 Columbine High School massacre. Last year, six people died in a mass shooting at a birthday party in Colorado Springs.

According to the Gun Violence Archive so far this year there have been nearly two mass shootings per day in the US, totaling at least 605. Both CNN and the archive define a mass shooting as one in which four or more people are killed or wounded, excluding the Protection.

As authorities continue their investigation into the shooting, many are focused on mourning the lives lost.

Daniel Aston, 28, was bar supervisor at Club Q, according to friend and bartender Michael Anderson.

“He was the best manager anyone could have asked for. He made me come to work and he made me want to be a part of the positive culture that we were trying to create there,” Anderson said.

Aston moved to Colorado Springs two years ago to be closer to his mother and father, his parents Jeff and Sabrina Aston told the Denver Post.

Aston told his mother he was a boy when he was four, and a decade later he came out as transgender, his mother told the newspaper. He thought he was shy, but he wasn’t, she said.

“He had so much more life to give to us and all his friends and himself,” she told the newspaper.

Victim Kelly Loving’s sister released a statement Monday expressing her support for everyone who lost a loved one in the shooting.

“My condolences to all the families who lost someone in this tragic event and to all who are struggling to be accepted in this world. My sister was a good person. She was loving and caring and sweet. Everyone loved her. Kelly was a wonderful person,” Tiffany Loving said in the statement to CNN.

Ashley Pugh’s family said they were absolutely devastated by their loss and that their daughter Ryleigh was “their whole world”.

“She meant everything to this family and we cannot even begin to understand what not having her in our lives will mean,” the family said in a statement.

Pugh worked for the non-profit organization Kids Crossing, which aims to help foster children find homes, according to the statement. She has also been involved in helping the LGBTQ community find welcoming foster care places.

Derrick Rump was a bartender at Club Q. The venue served as a place where he “found a community of people that he really, really loved, and he felt he could shine there — and he did,” his sister Julia Kissling , CNN Partners WFMZ.

“He changed the lives of so many people, and that’s exactly what he wanted,” she said.

Tiara Kelley, who performed at the club the night before the shooting, told CNN that Rump and colleague Aston were opposites in many ways but worked well together.

“They were just amazing and every bar should have a Daniel and a Derrick,” Kelley said.

Raymond Green Vance, 22, had just landed a job at a FedEx distribution center in Colorado Springs and “was thrilled to get his first paycheck,” his family said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, he never left the club. Raymond was the victim of a man who, with family and friends, unleashed terror on innocent people,” the statement said. “His own family and friends are completely devastated by the sudden loss of a son, grandson, brother, nephew and cousin loved by so many.”

Vances was “a kind, selfless young adult with his whole life ahead of him. His closest friend describes him as gifted, unique and willing to do anything to help anyone,” his family said.

Pamela Castro, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Springs Police Department, speaks to reporters during a news conference Monday.

Aldrich has not issued a statement to law enforcement, police said.

“I have not heard that he was uncooperative, only that he chose not to speak to investigators,” Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez told CNN on Monday.

The suspect had a long gun during the attack, and two firearms were found at the scene, Vasquez said.

Two law enforcement sources told CNN footage, which shows Aldrich purchased both of the weapons he brought with him to the attack, an AR-style rifle and a handgun.

Prior to Saturday’s shooting, the suspect was arrested in June 2021 in connection with a bomb threat that led to a standoff at his mother’s home, according to a press release from the then El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and his mother’s former landlord.

Two law enforcement sources confirmed the suspect in Saturday’s shooting and bomb threat was the same person based on his name and date of birth.

The sheriff’s deputies responded to a report from the man’s mother that he “threatened to harm her with a homemade bomb, multiple guns and ammunition,” the press release said. MPs called the suspect, and he “refused to obey orders to surrender,” the release said, prompting them to evacuate nearby homes.

A few hours after the first call to the police, the Sheriff’s Crisis Unit was able to get Aldrich out of the house and he was arrested. The authorities did not find any explosives in the apartment at the time.

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

The two law enforcement sources who said the suspect bought the firearms also told CNN his arrest on a bomb threat would not have surfaced during background checks because the case was never decided, the charges were dropped and the records were sealed. It’s not clear what led to the sealing of the records, they said.

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