US shooting: five killed and 25 injured after gunman opened fire at Club Q gay nightclub in Colorado Springs
Five people have died and 25 injured after a gunman opened fire inside a gay club in the US state of Colorado
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The man killed five people in the attack and injured 25 others before he was subdued by “heroic” people at Club Q in Colorado Springs and arrested after police arrived on the scene within around five minutes.
Of the 25 people injured, at least seven are in a critical condition, authorities said. Some were hurt trying to flee and it is unclear if all of the victims were shot, a police spokesperson said.
Colorado Springs mayor John Suthers said the attack ended when someone grabbed a handgun from the suspect, named as Anderson Lee Aldrich, and hit him with it, before holding him down until police arrived.
Mr Suthers told The Associated Press that the person who hit the gunman had him pinned down when police arrived. He said: “Had that individual not intervened this could have been exponentially more tragic.”
Club Q is a gay and lesbian nightclub that features a Drag Diva Drag Show on Saturdays, according to its website. The club described the incident as a “hate attack”, but investigators are still determining a motive and whether it would be charged as a hate crime.
The suspect used an AR-15-style semi-automatic weapon, a law enforcement official said, and a handgun and additional ammunition magazines also were also recovered. The El Paso County district attorney said charges against him will likely include first-degree murder. Anderson Lee Aldrich is currently in custody and being treated for injuries.
Aldrich was arrested in 2021 after his mother reported that he threatened her with a homemade bomb and other weapons, authorities said. No explosives were found, authorities said at the time, and The Gazette in Colorado Springs reported that prosecutors did not pursue any charges and that records were sealed.
Colorado Springs Police Department Chief Adrian Vasquez thanked the club-goers who intervened to stop the gunman in a news conference on Sunday. He said: “Initial evidence and interviews indicate that the suspect entered Club Q and immediately began shooting at people inside as he moved further into the club.
"While the suspect was inside of the club, at least two heroic people inside the club confronted and fought with the suspect and were able to stop the suspect from continuing to kill and harm others. We owe them a great debt of thanks."
The attack marks the sixth mass killing this month and comes in a year when the nation was shaken by the deaths of 21 in a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
Authorities were alerted to the shooting at 11.57pm on Saturday (19 November), Lieutenant Pamela Castro of the Colorado Springs Police Department said. She added that the suspect was injured but did not know how and that the FBI was on the scene.
Attorney General Merrick Garland has been briefed on the shooting, Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said, and the FBI said it was providing assistance to Colorado Springs police, but the police department is leading the investigation.
‘A hate attack’
A motive for the shooting is not yet clear, nor are the gender identities of the victims, and the incident came as anti-gay rhetoric has intensified by extremists.
In a statement, Club Q termed the shooting a hate attack. On its Facebook page, the club wrote: “Club Q is devastated by the senseless attack on our community”. It said its prayers were with victims and families, adding: “We thank the quick reactions of heroic customers that subdued the gunman and ended this hate attack.”
The shooting came during Transgender Awareness Week and hours before Sunday’s International Transgender Day of Remembrance, when events around the world are held to mourn and commemorate transgender people lost to violence.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who became the first openly gay man in the United States to be elected governor in 2018, described the incident as “sickening”.
He said: “My heart breaks for the family and friends of those lost, injured, and traumatised in this horrific shooting. I have spoken with Mayor (John) Suthers and clarified that every state resource is available to local law enforcement in Colorado Springs. Colorado stands with our LGTBQ community and everyone impacted by this tragedy as we mourn.”
Democratic Representative Adam Schiff of California said on Twitter he was “sickened and horrified” by the shooting, writing: “The LGBTQ+ community is once again the target of the most terrible violence. And devastating attacks like these will only become more common if we don’t fight back. It must stop.”
Representative-elect Eric Sorensen, who is Illinois’ first openly gay congressman, also tweeted about the incident, stating: “We must use loud voices to stand up against hate. Our country must turn down the hateful rhetoric aimed at our LGBTQ community.”
The shooting rekindled memories of the 2016 massacre at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that killed 49 people. Colorado has experienced several mass killings, including at Columbine High School in 1999, a cinema in suburban Denver in 2012 and at a Boulder supermarket last year.
There have been 523 mass killings since 2006 resulting in 2,727 deaths as of 19 November, according to The Associated Press/USA Today database on mass killings in the US.