On the intervening night between November 19 and 20, a gunman entered Club Q, a nightclub popular with the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT+) community of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and opened fire. At least five people were killed and at least 25 injured in the attack that is being viewed as a hate crime. According to eyewitnesses, the loss of life was mitigated by the bravery of two unarmed members of the community who overpowered and disarmed the gunman.
The club was hosting a dance party at the time of the attack, and drag performances had been planned to celebrate Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20. CBS reports that the five people killed include two bartenders, one of whom was a transgender man.
The shooter has been identified as 22-year-old Anderson lee Aldrich, and is now in custody. It has now emerged that Aldrich was also previously involved in violent activities, including allegedly threatening his own mother with a bomb in June 2021. However, no action was taken against him at that time. Aldrich is also said to be related to California Assemblymember Randy Voepel, who is a known supporter of Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again (MAGA) extreme right-wing political ideology.
Bravery of unarmed Queer patrons
Club Q released a statement saying, “Club Q is devastated by the senseless attack on our community. Our prays and thoughts are with all the victims and their families and friends. We thank the quick reactions of heroic customers that subdued the gunman and ended this hate attack.”
Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers told CNN, “This incident was over by 12:02, and that’s largely because of the intervention of at least one, possibly two, very heroic individuals who subdued this guy,” adding, “But for that, as tragic as this incident is… it could have been much, much worse but for these heroic actors.”
While one patron grabbed the attacker’s gun, and reportedly hit him with it to subdue him, another patron reportedly pinned him down until police arrived. Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez told CNN that the brave clubgoers who accosted the shooter were owed “a great debt of thanks.”
Amidst tributes to the deceased, social media was also replete with gratitude to the heroes who tackled the gunman.
Honoring the victims
It is noteworthy that Colorado has an openly gay governor in Jared Polis, who called the attack “horrific, sickening and devastating”.
Governor Polis has ordered flags lowered to half-staff on all public buildings statewide for five days until sunset on November 26, 2022, to honor and remember each of the 5 individuals who lost their lives in the attack. Moreover, the Polis-Primavera administration will also be flying the Pride flag at the Colorado state capitol for the next five days to further honor the victims.
US Secretary of Transport, Pete Buttigieg, another high-ranking openly gay politician, also called the attack “sickening and heartbreaking”.
Reactions also poured in from other high-ranking politicians and world leaders, who condemned the attack.
Calling out hypocrisy
When US House Candidate from Colorado, Lauren Boebert, who is known for making statements against drag artists and transgender people tweeted about the “lawless violence”, people were quick to call her out.