COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Nov 21 (Reuters) – Colorado Springs officials on Monday identified the five shooting victims who died and the two heroes who prevented further bloodshed at the LGBTQ nightclub where a gunman opened fire on Saturday night.
Another 17 people were wounded by gunfire in the rampage. Police said they had yet to determine a motive, but the city’s mayor and LGBTQ rights groups said the attack bore the hallmarks of a hate crime. The suspected shooter, a 22-year-old man, remained under arrest at a hospital, presumably for injuries sustained when a decorated former Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran pummeled him in a successful effort to stop the assault at Club Q in Colorado’s second-largest city.
Club Q, one of the only places for LGBTQ people to gather in Colorado Springs, attracted a diverse crowd of queer people and straight allies. On Sunday, which was Transgender Day of Remembrance, the club was planning to mark the occasion with a “drag brunch” and a nighttime show “with a variety of gender identities and performance styles.”
Police held him on initial charges including five counts of first-degree murder and bias crimes, but prosecutors said they expected to file formal criminal charges that may differ once he is out of the hospital. The suspect, Anderson Lee Aldrich, was known to law enforcement, having been arrested in June 2021 after his mother reported he threatened to detonate a bomb and harm her with multiple weapons, according to a news release from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.
Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez instead tried to focus Monday’s news conference on the victims. He identified the dead as Kelly Loving, Daniel Aston, Derrick Rump, Ashley Paugh and Raymond Green Vance.
Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers also paid tribute to the heroes who rushed the shooter: Richard Fierro and Thomas James. Fierro is a U.S. Army veteran who did three tours of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.
“I’m straight. My kids are straight, but we go there … Why? Because it’s about community,” Fierro told reporters. When the shooting broke out, Fierro said he rushed the gunman, pulled him to the ground, then grabbed the gunman’s pistol and hit him with it. James helped by removing the shooter’s rifle, which Fierro described as an AR, and kicking him. Meanwhile a drag performer stomped him with high heels, Fierro said.
“I wish I could have done more,” Fierro said. “But those (five) people aren’t home tonight, and I am. And I’m really upset by that. It’s not something I’m proud of.”