A 22-year-old gunman killed at least five people and wounded 25 others at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, just before midnight Saturday, police said Sunday.
The suspect in the Club Q shooting has been identified as Anderson Lee Aldridge, according to Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vazquez.
Vasquez said he opened fire immediately after entering the club, and at least two people inside the club confronted him and fought to prevent further violence.
“We are very grateful to them,” he said.
Aldridge is being treated in hospital, police said. Officers did not shoot him, police said.
Colorado has seen some of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history, including the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School. Six people were killed in a mass shooting at a birthday party in Colorado Springs last year.
Here’s what we know about the deadly attack in Colorado Springs:
The violence lasted only a few minutes. Police said officers began receiving numerous 911 calls at 11:56 p.m., officers were dispatched at 11:57 p.m., an officer arrived at midnight and the suspect was taken into custody at 12:02 a.m. A total of 39 patrol officers responded, police said, and Fire Chief Mike Smaldino said 11 ambulances were called to the scene.
Police Chief Vasquez said Aldridge used a long rifle in the shooting and that two firearms were found at the scene.
Joshua Thurman told CNN affiliate KOAA he was dancing in the club when he heard gunshots and saw the muzzle flash.
“I thought it was music, so I kept dancing,” he said. When he heard another round of gunfire, Thurman said he ran to the locker room and hid.
He said he heard more gunfire, people crying and windows being smashed. Thurman said that when he came out, he saw dead bodies, broken glass and blood lying on the ground.
Authorities initially said 18 people were injured, but later revised the total to 25.
Nineteen of the 25 wounded suffered gunshot wounds, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers told CNN’s Jim Acosta on Sunday. Based on communications with medics, Suthers said he hoped the injured victims survived and that the community was “praying” that no more deaths occurred.
Police said they were investigating whether the attack was a hate crime and were aware of Club Q’s ties to the LGBTQ community. The shooting came as the calendar shifted to Sunday for Transgender 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, to move around our beautiful city without fear of being harmed or treated poorly.”
In a statement on social media, Club Q said it was “shocked by the senseless attack on our community” and thanked “heroic patrons who responded quickly to subdue the shooter and put an end to this hateful attack”.
Two law enforcement sources have confirmed the date of birth and name of the suspected nightclub shooter matches someone arrested for a bomb threat the previous year, the Colorado governor said. Jared Polis also told CNN that he believes they are the same person: “Everything I’ve heard indicates it’s the same person,” Polis said.
Anderson Lee Aldrich at his mother’s Colorado Springs home in June 2021, according to a press release from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office at the time and his mother’s former landlord He was arrested after the standoff.
Video obtained by CNN showed Aldridge surrendered to law enforcement last year after allegedly making a bomb threat. Footage from the homeowner’s Ring Door Camera showed Aldridge stepping out of the house barefoot with his hands up and toward the sheriff’s deputies.
Sheriff’s deputies said in a news release in June that they responded to Aldridge’s mother’s report that he “threatened to inflict harm on her with homemade bombs, multiple weapons and ammunition.”
Deputies called the suspect, who “refuses to comply with an order to turn himself in,” causing them to evacuate a nearby home, the news release said.
Hours after the initial call, the sheriff’s crisis negotiation team managed to get Aldridge out of the house he was in, and he was arrested after walking out the front door. Authorities did not find any explosives at the home.
It is unclear how the case was resolved. But the Colorado Springs Gazette reported that the district attorney’s office said no formal charges have been filed in the case. The district attorney’s office did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
Aldridge also called the Gazette to try to remove an earlier report on the 2021 event from the website, the newspaper reported. “Absolutely nothing there, case dropped, I ask you to delete or update this story,” Aldridge said in a voice message, according to the Gazette.
CNN tried unsuccessfully to reach Aldridge’s mother for comment.
Club Q opened in 2002 and until recently was the only LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs.
The city is the second most populous in the state with just under 500,000 residents and is home to many military bases. It is the headquarters of Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian group that considers homosexuality and same-sex marriage a sin.
In a July 2020 interview with Colorado Springs Indy, Club Q owner Nic Grzecka said he and his business partner opened the club to gain a “permanent” safe place in the city.
The venue also hosts events for all ages, including brunch and planning an upcoming Thanksgiving event.
Lifelong Colorado Springs resident Tiana Nicole Dykes calls Club Q “a second home filled with select families.”
“I go every other week, if not every week. This space means the world to me. Energy, people, information. It’s an amazing place and this tragedy shouldn’t have happened,” Dykes said on Sunday. told CNN. “The destructive power of a mass shooting in an LGBT+ safe space is unbelievable. There’s disrespect, disbelief, and sheer shock. Nobody thinks it’s going to happen to them, and sometimes it does.”
Jared Polis, a Democrat in the Colorado state government and the first openly gay governor in the United States, issued a statement Sunday calling the attack “terrible, disgusting and devastating” and notifying local law enforcement. Provide national resources.
“We are forever grateful to the brave individuals who stopped the shooter, potentially saving a life in the process, and to the first responders who quickly responded to this horrific shooting,” he said. “Colorado stands with our LGTBQ community and All those affected by this tragedy stand together as we mourn.”
Polis told CNN’s Jim Acosta that there are only two gay bars in Colorado Springs, and Club Q is one of the main venues.
“Everyone knows. I know, know this place. It’s shocking. It’s still how people are. But I know we’re going to bounce back. We’re showing our love for each other. We’re healing each other,” the governor said.
The two U.S. senators from Colorado, both Democrats, condolences in statement And said more should be done for the LGBTQ community.
“We must protect LGBTQ lives from this hate,” the senator said. John Hickenlooper said.
“If we get justice for this unimaginable act, we must do more to protect the LGBTQ community and stand firm against discrimination and hatred in all its forms,” the senator said. Michael Bennett said.
President Biden also issued a statement saying that he was praying for the victims and their families.
“While the motive for this attack is unclear, we know that the LGBTQI+ community has been subjected to horrific hate violence in recent years. Gun violence continues to have a devastating and disproportionate impact on our LGBTQI+ community across the country, and the threat of violence is increasing,” Biden said in a statement. said in a written statement.