The gunman who opened fire inside an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado, killing at least five people, was detained by two “heroic” people inside the club, police said at a news conference Sunday.
They identified the suspect as 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich and said he had used a rifle at the club, where partygoers were apparently celebrating Transgender Day of Remembrance, which honors transgender people who are subjected to violent attacks. .
Eighteen people were injured in the incident shortly before midnight, police said, adding that an unspecified number of injured remain in critical condition.
The shooting was the latest in a long history of attacks on LGBTQ venues in the United States, the deadliest of which claimed 49 lives at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in 2016.
The suspect in Colorado Springs entered Club Q and immediately began shooting at people inside, Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said at a news conference.
It added: “At least two heroic individuals within the club confronted and fought with the suspect and were able to stop the suspect from continuing to kill and harm others.”
Joshua Thurman from Colorado Springs was with the club at the time.
“It was so scary,” he told reporters on Sunday.
“There were bodies on the ground. There was broken glass, broken glasses, people crying.
“This was supposed to be our safe space… where are we supposed to go?”
US President Joe Biden issued a statement condemning the attack, and while noting the motive was not yet clear, he criticized violence against the LGBTQ community, particularly transgender women of color.
“We must eliminate the inequities that contribute to violence against LGBTQI+ people. We cannot and must not tolerate hate,” she said.
Previous bomb threat
Authorities said the suspect was being treated at a local hospital but did not release any further information about him, noting that officials, including the FBI, are investigating.
A man with the same name was arrested on June 18, 2021, aged 21, after his mother said he threatened to hurt her with a pipe bomb or “multiple weapons,” according to a press release from the Office of the El Paso County Sheriff. Office.
Police spokeswoman Pamela Castro said Sunday that police received an initial call about an active shooting at the club at 11:56 p.m. She said a first officer arrived within four minutes and the suspect had been subdued alone. Two minutes later.
“Club Q is a safe haven for our LGBTQ citizens,” Chief Vasquez said. “I am so terribly sad and heartbroken.”
Club Q said on Facebook that it was “devastated by the senseless attack on our community,” adding: “We appreciate the quick reactions from the heroic patrons who subdued the gunman and put an end to this hateful attack.”
Authorities said Sunday that the shooting had not yet been officially classified as a hate crime, but first-degree murder charges would likely be filed.
Gov. Jared Polis, who in 2018 became the first openly gay man elected as US governor, called the shooting “horrible, disgusting and devastating,” adding that “Colorado stands with our LGBTQ community and with all affected by this tragedy.
Hundreds of messages of support poured into the club’s Facebook page, some from as far away as Sweden, Great Britain, New Zealand, Germany and Australia.
‘Events we train for’
Authorities could not immediately say how many people were in the popular club at the time.
Dozens of police officers and firefighters rushed to the scene.
“Unfortunately,” Colorado Springs Fire Department spokesman Mike Smaldino said, “these are events we train for.”
Bartender Michael Anderson was working at the club.
“What I can’t stop thinking about is the images of the night, of the bodies, of the blood, of the broken glass, of the carnage and the rubble, and seeing a safe place turned into a war zone,” said. CBS.
“I always hoped that I would never be in a place where this would happen.”
Transgender Remembrance Day has been celebrated every year since 1999, when it began as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, who had been murdered the previous year.
Transgender rights were a hot topic in the United States ahead of the midterm elections earlier this month, and Republicans filed a series of legislative proposals to restrict them.
600 mass shootings in 2022
On June 12, 2016, a gunman opened fire inside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, killing 49 people and wounding more than 50 in what was then the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.
Gun violence is a big problem in the United States, where there have been more than 600 mass shootings so far in 2022, according to the Gun Violence Archive website.
Mass shootings have repeatedly reignited the debate over gun control, a hot topic in the country, though little progress has been made in Congress on calls for reform.