A 22-year-old gunman entered an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, just before midnight Saturday and immediately opened fire, killing at least five people and injuring 25 others, before patrons confronted and stopped him.
The suspect in the shooting at Club Q was identified as Anderson Lee Aldrich, according to Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez. He used a long rifle in the shooting, and two firearms were found at the scene.
At least two people inside the club confronted and fought the gunman and prevented further violence.
Police said they were investigating whether the attack was a hate crime and noted Club Q’s relationship with the LGBTQ community.
“Club Q is a safe haven for our LGBTQ citizens,” Vasquez said. “Every citizen has a right to feel safe and secure in our city, to go about our beautiful city without fear of being harmed or treated poorly.”
In a statement on social media, Club Q said it was “devastated by the senseless attack on our community” and thanked “the quick reactions of heroic customers that subdued the gunman and ended this hate attack.”
Club Q posted earlier in the day that its Saturday night lineup would feature a punk and alternative show at 9 p.m. followed by a dance party at 11. The club also planned to hold a drag brunch and a drag show on Sunday for Transgender Day of Remembrance. The club’s website now says it will be closed until further notice.
The shooting came as the calendar turned to Transgender Day of Remembrance on Sunday and is reminiscent of the 2016 attack at an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in which a gunman who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State killed 49 people and wounded at least 53.
The violence lasted just minutes. Police received numerous 911 calls starting at 11:56 p.m., officers were dispatched at 11:57 p.m., an officer arrived at midnight and the suspect was detained at 12:02 a.m., police said. A total of 39 patrol officers responded, police said, and Fire Department Captain Mike Smaldino said 11 ambulances went to the scene.
Authorities initially said 18 people were injured but later adjusted that total up to 25. Nineteen of the 25 injured had gunshot wounds, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers told CNN’s Jim Acosta Sunday. Based on communication with medical personnel, Suthers said he expects the injured victims to survive and the community is “crossing our fingers” for no more fatalities.
The suspect is being treated at a hospital, police added. Officers did not shoot at him, police said.
Colorado Springs, the state’s second-most populous city with just under 500,000 residents, is home to a number of military bases and is the headquarters for Focus on the Family, the conservative Christian group that says homosexuality and same-sex marriage are sins.
Club Q opened in 2002 and was, until recently, the only LGBTQ club in the city.
Aldrich was arrested in June 2021 in connection with a bomb threat that led to a standoff at his mother’s home, according to a news release from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office at the time and his mother’s former landlord.
Two law enforcement sources confirmed the suspect in the nightclub shooting and the bomb threat were the same person based on name and date of birth. So this wasn’t his first run in with the law even.
President Joe Biden also issued a statement saying he was praying for the victims and their families.
“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. Gun violence continues to have a devastating and particular impact on LGBTQI+ communities across our nation and threats of violence are increasing,” Biden said in the written statement.