Gunman opens fire, kills 5 at gay club in another US mass shooting
A 22-year-old gunman identified as Anderson Lee Aldrich, Saturday night, opened fire inside a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, USA, killing five people and leaving 25 injured with an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle.
The suspect had shot his way through the nightclub before he was subdued by patrons and arrested by police who arrived within minutes, a law enforcement official said.
A handgun and additional ammunition magazines were also recovered, according to the official, who could not discuss details of the investigation publicly.
The attack ended when a patron grabbed a handgun from the suspect and hit him with it, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said.
The person who hit the gunman had him pinned down when police arrived and “had that individual not intervened this could have been exponentially more tragic,” Suthers said.
On its Facebook page, the club called it a “hate attack.”
Investigators were still determining a motive and whether to prosecute it as a hate crime, said El Paso County District Attorney Michael Allen. Charges against the suspect will likely include first-degree murder, he said.
Aldrich, who was in custody and being treated for injuries, was arrested in 2021 after his mother reported he threatened her with a homemade bomb and other weapons, authorities said.
They declined to elaborate on that arrest.
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.
Of the 25 injured, at least seven were in critical condition, authorities said. Some were hurt trying to flee, and it was unclear if all of the victims were shot, a police spokesperson said.
Suthers said there was “reason to hope” that all of those hospitalized would recover.
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 movie theater in suburban Denver in 2012 and at a Boulder supermarket last year.
It was the sixth mass killing this month and came in a year when the nation was shaken by the deaths of 21 in a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
Authorities were called to Club Q at 11:57 p.m. Saturday with a report of a shooting, and the first officer arrived at midnight.
Joshua Thurman said he was in the club with about two dozen other people and was dancing when the shots began. He initially thought it was part of the music, until he heard another shot and said he saw the flash of a gun muzzle.
Thurman, 34, said he ran with another person to a dressing room where someone already was hiding.
They locked the door, turned off the lights and got on the floor but could hear the violence unfolding, including the gunman getting beaten up, he added.
Detectives also were examining whether anyone had helped Aldrich before the attack, Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said.
He said patrons who intervened during the attack were “heroic” and owed a debt of gratitude for preventing more deaths.
Club Q is a gay and lesbian nightclub that features a drag show on Saturdays, according to its website.
Club Q’s Facebook page said planned entertainment included a “punk and alternative show” preceding a birthday dance party, with a Sunday all-ages drag brunch.
Suthers noted that the club had operated for 21 years and had not reported any threats before Saturday’s attack.
Drag events have become a focus of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and protests recently as opponents, including politicians, have proposed banning children from them, falsely claiming they’re used to “groom” children.
Since 2006, there have been 523 mass killings and 2,727 deaths as of Nov. 19, according to The Associated Press/USA Today database on mass killings in the U.S. Read more.