Five people were killed and more than two dozen were wounded when a gunman using an AR-15-style rifle opened fire in an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs just before midnight Saturday.
Authorities said the toll would have been greater, had not at least one patron tackled the gunman and another helped subdue him.
Per The New York Times, “Mayor John Suthers of Colorado Springs said that a man had grabbed a handgun from the gunman and then hit him with it, subduing him. When the police burst into the club, the man was still on top of the gunman, pinning him down, Mr. Suthers said.”
Matthew Haynes, an owner of Club Q, where the attack occurred, told the Times that video surveillance showed that another customer helped subdue the killer. Of the man who first attacked the gunman, Haynes said, “He saved dozens and dozens of lives. Stopped the man cold. Everyone else was running away and he ran toward him.”
According to police, the alleged gunman, who was reportedly wearing body armor, is Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22. Police said they recovered two guns and that the suspect was injured and was treated in a hospital.
As of Monday morning, CBS News said he was still in the hospital.
“According to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, a man with the same name and age was arrested in June 2021 for making a bomb threat that led to the evacuation of an entire neighborhood,” per the article, and other media reports. Officials have not confirmed if it is the same individual.
Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said the shooting lasted barely a minute. Of the 25 known to be wounded, 19 were shot. Others may have been injured trying to escape.
According to The New York Times, “The exact number of injured victims was uncertain. Some people had driven themselves to seek treatment, police officials said, and not all injuries were from gunshot wounds. Some may have suffered injuries while fleeing. At least two remained in critical condition on Sunday morning, doctors from two hospitals said.”
Court records show that the alleged shooter will be facing murder and hate crime charges, although charges have not yet been officially filed, according to CNN.
Bartender Michael Anderson described what happened to CNN. “I looked up and saw the outline of a man holding a rifle at the entrance of the club — probably about 15 feet from me,” he said. “I ducked behind the bar and as I did, glass began to spew all around me.”
He told CNN that his friend and the bar supervisor, Daniel Aston, was fatally wounded seconds later.
He said he was praying when the two customers stopped the gunman. “I saw what I believe was probably the gunman lying on the ground, getting beat up and kicked and yelled at by two very brave people,” he said.
Per NPR, “Colorado Gov. Jared Polis — the first openly gay man elected governor in U.S. history — called the attack ‘horrific, sickening and devastating.’”
In a statement, Polis said, “My heart breaks for the family and friends of those lost, injured and traumatized in this horrific shooting.”
On Sunday, President Joe Biden spoke of the attack in a statement on Transgender Remembrance Day: “Tragically, as last night’s attack in Colorado Springs reminds us, too many LGBTQI+ people in the United States — and around the world — continue to face unconscionable attacks.”
He noted that 32 transgender Americans are known to have been killed this year “by horrific acts of brutality. The true toll is likely much higher, with Black and brown transgender women disproportionately targeted.”
Biden said he’s calling on Congress to pass the Equality Act “and provide long overdue protections to transgender and all LGBTQI+ Americans. This is a matter of safety and basic dignity. As we mourn the lives we’ve lost, let us resolve to continue building a country where every American can live free from fear and discrimination.”
Numerous news stories in the aftermath of the Club Q attack in Colorado Springs have referred to the 2016 shooting at the Pulse gay club in Orlando, where 49 people were killed. That massacre has been called the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, BBC reported.