Gunman kills 5 in gay nightclub, suppressed by patrons – Times of India


COLORADO SPRINGS: A 22-year-old gunman opened fire at a gay nightclub in Colorado SpringsHe killed five people and left 18 wounded before being subdued by “heroic” patrons and arrested by police who arrived on the scene within minutes, authorities said on Sunday.
Two firearms, including a “long rifle”, were found in Club Q after Saturday night’s shooting, police chief Adrian Vasquez said.
Investigators were still determining a motive, and the attack was being investigated to see if it should be prosecuted as a hate crime, El Paso County District Attorney Michael Allen said.
Charges against the suspect “are likely to include first-degree murder,” he said.
Police identified the shooter as Anderson Lee Aldrich, who was in custody and being treated for injuries.
A man of the same name and age was arrested in 2021 after his mother reported threatening her with “a homemade bomb, multiple guns and ammunition,” authorities said.
The police cannot confirm whether it is the same person and say they are investigating whether the suspect has been arrested before.
Authorities were called to the Club Q at 11:57 p.m. Saturday with a report of a shooting, and the first officer arrived at midnight.
“At least two heroic people” confronted the gunman and stopped shooting, Vasquez said, adding, “We owe them a debt of gratitude.”
Of the 18 injured, some were in critical condition and at least two had been treated and released, officials said, adding that some were injured as they tried to flee.
The shooting brought back memories of the 2016 massacre at gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Florida, which left 49 people dead.
And it happened in a state that has seen several notorious mass murders, including at Columbine High School in 1999, a movie theater in suburban Denver in 2012, and last year at a Boulder grocery store.
It was the sixth mass murder this month and came in a year when the nation was rocked by the death of 21 in a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
Club Q is a gay and lesbian nightclub which has a “Drag Diva Drag Show” on Saturdays, according to the website.
In addition to the drag show, Club Q’s Facebook page said planned entertainment included a “punk and alternative show” ahead of a birthday party, with a Sunday “brunch for all ages.”
Drag events have become a focus of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and protests in recent months as opponents, including politicians, have proposed banning children from such events, falsely claiming they are used to “groom” children.
Attorney General Merrick Garland was briefed on the shooting, Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said.
The FBI said it was assisting, but said police were leading the investigation.
President Joe Biden said that while the motive for the shootings was not yet clear, “we know that the LGBTQI+ community has been the victim of horrific hate violence in recent years.”
“Places that are supposed to be safe spaces of acceptance and celebration should never turn into places of terror and violence. Yet it happens far too often,” he said.
“We must dispel the inequalities that contribute to violence against LGBTQI+ people. We cannot and must not tolerate hate.”
Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who in 2018 became the first openly gay man in the United States to be elected governor, called the shooting “sickening.”
“My heart breaks for the family and friends of those lost, injured and traumatized in this horrific shooting. I have spoken with Mayor (John) Suthers and clarified that any state resource is available to local Colorado Springs law enforcement,” Polis said.
“Colorado stands with our LGTBQ community and everyone affected by this tragedy as we mourn.”
A makeshift memorial rose near the club on Sunday, with flowers, a stuffed animal and candles in front of a cardboard sign reading “Love over hate” next to a rainbow-colored heart.
Ryan Johnson, who lives near Club Q and visited last month, said it was one of only two nightlife venues serving the LGBTQ community in conservative Colorado Springs.
“It’s kind of a go-to for pride,” said the 26-year-old, describing it as a mid-sized club.
When he returned home early on Sunday, he saw police cars crowding the streets.
“It just feels crazy, you hear about it and you don’t think it’s going to happen and then it happens,” Johnson said.
“You come to Colorado and feel safer than other parts of the country and then this happens.”
While a motive was not yet clear, nor was the gender identity of the victims, the incident came as anti-gay rhetoric by extremists intensified. In a statement, Club Q called the shooting a hate attack.
“Club Q is devastated by the senseless attack on our community,” the club writes on its Facebook page. It said its prayers were with the victims and families, adding: “We thank the prompt responses from heroic customers who have suppressed the shooter and ended this hate attack.”
The CEO of a national LGBTQ rights organization, Kevin Jennings of Lambda Legal, responded with a plea for tighter gun restrictions.
“America’s toxic mix of bigotry and absurdly easy access to firearms means that such events are all too common and LGBTQ+ people, BIPOC communities, the Jewish community and other vulnerable populations are paying the price time and time again for the failure of our political leaders to act,” he said. said in a statement.
“We must work together to demand meaningful action before another tragedy strikes our country.”
The shooting occurred during Transgender Awareness Week and hours before Sunday’s International Transgender Remembrance Day, when events around the world are held to mourn and remember transgender people lost to violence.
The shooting in Colorado Springs would certainly give special resonance to those events.
Colorado Springs is a city of about 480,000, about 70 miles south of Denver, which is home to the US Air Force Academy, as well as Focus on the Family, a prominent evangelical Christian ministry.
In November 2015, three people were killed and eight injured at a Planned Parenthood clinic in the city when authorities said a gunman was targeted by the clinic for performing abortions.
In June, 31 members of the neo-Nazi group Patriot Front were arrested in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and charged with conspiracy to cause riots at a Pride event. Experts warned that extremist groups could see anti-gay rhetoric as a call to action.
Last month, an Idaho fundamentalist minister told his small Boise congregation that gays, lesbians, and transgender people should be executed by the government, which lined up with similar sermons from a Texas fundamentalist minister.
There have been 523 mass murders since 2006, resulting in 2,727 deaths as of Nov. 19, according to The Associated Press/USA Today database of mass murders in the US.

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