By Chas Danner
Police tape blocks off the Club Q parking lot on Sunday morning in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Photo: Jason Connolly/AFP via Getty Images
Five people were killed and at least 25 injured late Saturday night in Colorado Springs, Colorado, when a gunman opened fire inside Club Q, an LGBTQ+ nightclub located northeast of downtown. Local police are still investigating the motive of the 22-year-old shooter, who was subdued by people inside the club before being taken into custody. The club described the shooting as a “hate attack” in a statement posted on its Facebook page. Below is what we know about this developing story.
Shortly before midnight Saturday, a lone gunman, identified by police as 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, entered Club Q armed with a long rifle and immediately began shooting, according to Colorado Springs police chief Adrian Vasquez.
Follow Cover Story: Seed Money, our podcast about the secret life of a billionaire.LISTEN NOW
Five people were killed and at least 25 people were injured in the attack, which lasted less than ten minutes, and ended when the gunman was subdued by patrons of the club. “We know one or more patrons heroically intervened to subdue the suspect and we praised those individuals who did so because their actions clearly saved lives,” Colorado Springs mayor John Suthers said at a Sunday morning press conference.
Police tape blocks off the scene of a shooting on Saturday night in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Photo: Thomas Peipert/AP/Shutterstock
The first 911 call reporting the shooting came in at 11:57 p.m.; the first responding officers arrived on the scene at 12:02 a.m. and quickly took the suspected gunman into custody. He remains hospitalized with as of yet undisclosed injuries.
Colorado Springs police said they were still investigating the gunman’s motive, and could not confirm whether or not it was a hate attack. Police said that two firearms, including a long gun, were recovered at the scene. The FBI is assisting with the investigation.
“Club Q is a safe haven for our LGBTQ citizens,” Chief Vasquez said Sunday. “Every citizen has the right to feel safe and secure in our city. To go about our beautiful city without fear of being harmed or treated poorly. I’m so terribly saddened and heartbroken.”
Club Q, in a statement released on its Facebook page early Sunday morning, said it was “devastated by the senseless attack on our community” and that “we thank the quick reactions of heroic customers that subdued the gunman and ended this hate attack.” It is not clear what kind of security the club had in place at the time of the attack.
The Colorado Sun reports that multiple events were planned at the club over the weekend, including an all-ages brunch and drag show on Sunday morning recognizing Transgender Day of Remembrance:
In two Instagram posts on Saturday prior to the shooting, Club Q announced that Saturday night’s party would include a birthday celebration for a community member. In the second post, it announced that a Sunday brunch and drag show would recognize Transgender Day of Remembrance, which honors trans people who have been killed. The brunch, which is a regular event at the club, is billed as being “all ages,” meaning anyone is able to attend regardless of age. Such events have in recent years become focal points for protests by anti-LGBT groups.
Colorado governor Jared Polis, who is the country’s first openly gay governor, called the attack “horrific, sickening, and devastating” in a statement on Sunday morning:
President Biden also responded to the attack on Sunday.
None of the victims has yet been identified by authorities, who said Sunday they were still working to notify family members. Several victims remained in critical condition as of Sunday morning. Per Denver 7 News:
Multiple victims were taken to three area hospitals by ambulance and police cars, officials said. One of the people who died was pronounced at one of the hospitals. Seven patients were taken to Penrose, 10 were taken to Memorial Central and two were taken to Memorial North, according to Colorado Springs Fire Department Chief Randy Royal.
Castro said some people were injured trying to flee and it was not yet clear Sunday morning how many people had been shot, and said the number of people injured could change.
Saturday night’s attack was the deadliest mass shooting targeting a gay nightclub in the U.S. since 49 people were killed by a gunman at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in June of 2016.
Club Q has long been one of the only LGBTQ nightclubs in Colorado Springs, where it has been in business for 21 years. In an interview with the Colorado Sun, co-owner Matthew Hayes explained that when the club opened, the LGBTQ community faced discrimination in public, and “Club Q was that safe place for people to come and feel and understand that they are normal — that the way they feel is normal and there are people just like them.” He said in the decades since, the venue has been as much a community center as it has been a club. “There have been so many happy stories from Club Q. People meeting and relationships being born. So many celebrations there. We’re a family of people more than a place to have a drink and dance and leave.” He said he doesn’t yet know what will happen to the club in the aftermath.
Several other locals and community leaders emphasized to the Sun how important and welcoming Club Q has been.
On Sunday, Colorado Springs police identified the gunman as 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich. His motive remains unclear.
In June of 2021, Aldrich was arrested in a suburb on the outskirts of Colorado Spring, after woman called the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office to report that her son had threatened her with a homemade bomb and multiple weapons. Aldrich was eventually arrested after a brief standoff with police, who found no bomb. No charges were filed, however, and the case was later sealed, according the Colorado Springs Gazette. Notes the Washington Post:
The ultimate disposition of the case was not immediately clear.
It was also unclear whether any petitions had been filed against Aldrich preventing him from possessing a firearm. Colorado’s 2019 “red flag” law gives local judges the authority to order the confiscation of firearms from individuals with a history of mental illness or violence.