(CNN) — A 22-year-old gunman killed at least 5 people and injured 25 others at an LGBTQ nightclub. Colorado Springs, Coloradoshortly before midnight Saturday, police said Sunday.
The suspect in the Club Q shooting has been identified as Anderson Lee Aldrich, Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said.
Upon entering the club, he immediately opened fire, before at least two men confronted him and fought him, avoiding casualties, Vasquez said.
“We owe them a debt of gratitude,” he said.
Aldrich is being treated at a hospital, police said. He also said the officers did not shoot him.
Colorado has witnessed some of the worst mass shootings in US history, including the 1999 Columbine High School massacre. Six people were killed in a shooting at a birthday party in Colorado Springs last year.
Here’s what we know about the deadly Colorado Springs attack:
The shooting lasted only a few minutes.
The violent actions lasted only a few minutes. Police said the 911 calls began at 11:56 p.m., officers were dispatched at 11:57 p.m., an officer arrived at midnight and the suspect was arrested at 12:02 p.m., police said. A total of 39 patrol cars responded, police said, and 11 ambulances responded to the scene, Fire Department Capt. Mike Smaldino said.
Aldrich used a long gun in the shooting, and two guns were found at the scene, Police Chief Vasquez said.
Joshua Thurman told CNN affiliate KOAA that he was dancing at the club when he heard gunshots and saw a flash.
“I thought it was music, so I danced,” he said. When he heard another round of gunfire, Thurman said he ran into a dressing room to hide.
He said he also heard gunshots, people crying and windows breaking. Thurman said when he came out, he saw bodies on the floor and broken glass and blood.
Officials initially said 18 people were injured, but later revised the total to 25.
Of the 25 injured, 19 had gunshot wounds, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers told CNN’s Jim Acosta on Sunday. Suthers said the community is “crossing our fingers” that there are no more deaths, and that the injured are hopeful of survival, according to communications with medical personnel.
Police are investigating whether the attack was a hate crime
Police said they were investigating whether the attack was a hate crime, citing Club Q’s ties to the LGBTQ community. The shooting happened when the calendar turned to Sunday for Transgender Day of Remembrance.
“Club Q is a safe haven for our LGBTQ citizens,” Vasquez said. “Every citizen has the right to feel safe and secure in our city and to explore our beautiful city without fear of harm or mistreatment.”
In a statement on social media, Club Q said it was “devastated by this senseless attack on our community” and thanked “the swift reactions of heroic patrons who subdued the attackers and ended this despicable attack”.
A man with the same name as the suspect was arrested last year.
Two law enforcement sources confirmed the nightclub shooter’s date of birth and name matched a man arrested for a bomb threat the previous year, and Colorado Gov. Jared Polis told CNN he believes they’re the same person: “All I’ve heard is that it’s the same person.” ” said the police.
Anderson Lee Aldrich was arrested in June 2021 after a standoff at the Colorado Springs home where his mother lived, according to a news release from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office at the time and his mother’s former landlord.
Video obtained by CNN shows Aldrich turning himself in to law enforcement last year after allegedly making a bomb threat. Camera footage from the homeowner’s front door shows Aldrich exiting the home with his hands up and bare feet, walking toward sheriff’s deputies.
Sheriff’s deputies said in a June statement that they responded to Aldrich’s mother’s report that he was “threatening to harm himself with a pipe bomb, multiple weapons and ammunition.”
Agents called out to the suspect, and he “refused to comply with orders to come inside,” the news release said, prompting the evacuation of nearby homes.
Hours after the initial call to police, the sheriff’s crisis intervention unit arrested Aldrich after he left the home where he was staying and walked out the front door. Officials said there were no explosives in the house.
It was not immediately clear how the case was resolved. But the district attorney’s office said no formal charges have been filed in the case, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported. The district attorney’s office did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
Aldrich called The Gazette in an attempt to remove an earlier story about the 2021 incident from the website, the newspaper said. “There’s absolutely nothing there, the case is dropped and I’m asking you to remove or update the story,” Aldrich said via voicemail, according to the newspaper.
CNN’s attempts to reach Aldrich’s mother for comment were unsuccessful.
The club is a ‘second home’ for the LGBTQ community.
Club Q opened in 2002 and until recently was the only LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs.
The city is the second most populous city in the state with less than 500,000 people and has several military bases. It is the headquarters of Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian group that says homosexuality and same-sex marriage are sins.
In a July 2020 interview with the Colorado Springs Indy, Club Q owner Nic Grzecka said he and his business partner opened the club to secure a “permanent” location in the city.
The venue hosts events for all ages, including brunch and upcoming Thanksgiving events.
Colorado Springs resident Diana Nicole Dykes called Club Q “a second home for select families.”
“I’m there every week, if not every week. This place means the world to me. The energy, the people, the news. It’s an incredible place and it doesn’t deserve this tragedy,” Dykes told CNN on Sunday. “A mass shooting in an LGBT+ safe space is harmful beyond belief. There are feelings of disrespect, disbelief and sheer shock. Nobody thinks it’s going to happen to them, and sometimes it does.”
What political leaders say
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat and the nation’s first openly gay governor, released a statement Sunday calling the attack “brutal, disgusting and devastating” and providing state resources to local law enforcement.
“We are forever grateful to the brave people who stopped the gunman who saved lives in the process and to those who responded quickly to this horrific shooting,” he said. “We mourn together with our LGBTQ community in Colorado and all those affected by this tragedy.”
Police told CNN’s Jim Acosta that there are only two gay bars in Colorado Springs, and Club Q is one of the main locations.
“Everybody knows it. I know it, I know this place. It’s shocking. People rarely understand it. But I know we will recover. We show each other love. We heal each other,” the governor said.
Colorado’s two U.S. senators, both Democrats, lamented the comments and said more needs to be done for the LGBTQ community.
“LGBTQ lives must be protected from this hate,” said Senator John Hickenlooper.
“As we seek justice for this unimaginable act, we must do more to protect the LGBTQ community and stand strong against discrimination and hate in all its forms,” said Senator Michael Bennett.
President Joe Biden issued a statement saying he was praying for the victims and their families.
“While the motive for this attack is still unclear, we do know that the LGBTQI+ community has been the victim of horrific hate violence in recent years. Gun violence has a particularly devastating impact on LGBTQI+ communities across our country, and threats of violence are on the rise,” Biden said in a written statement.
CNN’s Casey Dolan, Ala Elazar, Sam Fossum, Rosa Flores, Nellie Black and John Miller contributed to this report.
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