On Saturday, November 19, a man walked into an LGBTQ+ venue, Club Q, in Colorado Springs in the US, and began shooting patrons, killing five people and wounding at least 25 others.
Authorities received reports of the shooting at around midnight local time and responded within minutes. After opening fire and doing irrevocable damage, the gunman was subdued by patrons. Police identified the suspect as Anderson Lee Aldrich, a 22-year-old man who has been in custody since Sunday morning and was taken to a hospital to treat his wounds.
Aldrich had already been on the police’s radar in 2021, when he allegedly threatened his mother with a homemade bomb. The episode forced neighbors in the surrounding houses to evacuate while authorities negotiated with Aldrich for his surrender. He was later arrested, but it is unclear how the case was resolved.
The event last year should have triggered Colorado’s ‘red flag’ law, which would have allowed authorities to seize all weapons from the man. Even though such a gun seizure could have lasted only 14 days and thus wouldn’t have prevented the attack at Club Q, if the ‘red flag’ law had not been ignored, it could have at least raised Aldrich’s profile with authorities.
ABC News reports that one of the victims of the Colorado Springs mass shooting, which is being investigated as a hate crime, is an Oklahoman.
— Daniela Ibarra KTUL (@DanielaIbarraTV) November 21, 2022
The shooting is yet to be deemed a hate crime against the queer community, but the local district attorney said that it will be investigated with “that lens”. The FBI has also gotten involved to assist Colorado Springs police in the investigation of the shooting.
The attack was carried out on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, an ocassion established to commemorate all the lives lost as a consequence of anti-trans violence. The shooting came at a time when LGBTQ+ lives are becoming increasingly under attack in the US. Indeed, 2022 was dubbed “the worst year in recent history for LGBTQ state legislative attacks,” as several hundreds of anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been filed throughout the country.
Club Q, a venue that represented a safe haven for the queer community in the small town, published a statement on their social media, deeming the shooting a “hate attack”.
“Club Q is in shock, and in deep mourning, with the family and friends who had loved ones senselessly taken from them. We condemn the horrific violence that shattered an evening of celebration for all in the LGBTQ community of Colorado Springs and our allies,” the statement reads.
Officials in Colorado Springs said that they were investigating whether the shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub, which left at least five people dead, was a hate crime. They said at least two people inside the club confronted and fought with the suspect. https://t.co/NHGXHzGi7f pic.twitter.com/Fqi0UN1FKY
— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 20, 2022
“Club Q offers our greatest gratitude to those who moved immediately to stop the gunman and prevent more loss of life and injury. Club Q has always provided a space for LGBTQ people and our ally friends to celebrate together,” they wrote. “We will always speak up for and support everyone’s right to be themselves and be safe. We demand that those who spread disgusting rhetoric and encourage violence stop this behavior immediately before more people get hurt. We urge with everything in our heart for every person to do what they can to speak up for LGBTQ people and everyone’s right to be safe.”
Two of the victims named are Daniel Alston and Derrick Rump, bartenders at the queer venue. Alston, a trans man, tweeted about his experience working in Club Q in September, writing: “I love the folks I’ve met at this bar. It’s crazy how much support and love I’ve received here… y’all saved my life.”
Tributes are pouring in for the victims of the Colorado shooting, and the LGBTQ+ community all over the world is mourning the lives lost to such violence. One of the performers who hosted the drag event on the night of the shooting, Del Lusional, tweeted that they “never thought this would happen to me and my bar”. They added, “This doesn’t feel real. Like at all. I hate this so much. I hate this so f**king much.”
In a statement from the White House, President Biden condemned the violence by saying: “Places that are supposed to be safe spaces of acceptance and celebration should never be turned into places of terror and violence. Yet it happens far too often. We must drive out the inequities that contribute to violence against LGBTQI+ people. We cannot and must not tolerate hate.”
“This was our only safe space in Colorado Springs. Where are we going to go?”
Take two minutes and watch this. pic.twitter.com/y6Nh6sfMRz
— Matt McDermott (@mattmfm) November 20, 2022
Everyone at GCN would like to extend our deepest sympathies to all of those affected by the horrific shooting in Colorado.
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