Sources: Jack Healy, NY Times and Eric Levensen, Michelle Watson, CNN. At least five people were killed and 25 injured late Saturday in a shooting at an L.G.B.T.Q. nightclub in Colorado Springs. The injured were taken to several local hospitals.
CNN reports that the 22-year-old gunman entered the LGBTQ nightclub just before midnight Saturday and immediately opened fire.He rampaged through the club before patrons confronted and stopped him, police said Sunday.
The authorities credited people inside the nightclub in with stopping the gunman, who police say opened fire with a long rifle.
The suspect in the shooting was identified as Anderson Lee Aldrich, according to Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez.
He used a long rifle in the shooting, was covered in body armour and wielded a AR-15 style rifle. Vasquesz said two more firearms were found at the scene.
At least two people inside the club confronted and fought the gunman and prevented further violence, Vasquez said. “We owe them a great debt of thanks,” he said.
Police said they were investigating whether the attack was a hate crime and noted Club Q’s relationship with the LGBTQ community.
“Club Q is a safe haven for our LGBTQ citizens,” Vasquez said. “Every citizen has a right to feel safe and secure in our city, to go about our beautiful city without fear of being harmed or treated poorly.”
In a statement on social media, Club Q said it was “devastated by the senseless attack on our community” and thanked “the quick reactions of heroic customers that subdued the gunman and ended this hate attack.”
Club Q posted earlier in the day that its Saturday night lineup would feature a punk and alternative show at 9 p.m. followed by a dance party at 11. The club also planned to hold a drag brunch and a drag show on Sunday for Transgender Day of Remembrance. The club’s website now says it will be closed until further notice.
Gov. Jared Polis ordered flags lowered to half-staff at all public buildings statewide to honor the victims of the mass shooting beginning Monday until Saturday, according to a news release from his office.
“Flags will be lowered for 5 days to remember each of the 5 individuals who lost their lives in this senseless tragedy,” the release read. “To further honor and remember the victims and those injured in this tragedy, the Polis-Primavera administration will also be flying the Pride flag at the Colorado state capitol for the next five days.”
The shooting came as the calendar turned to Transgender Day of Remembrance on Sunday and is reminiscent of the 2016 attack at an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in which a gunman who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State killed 49 people and wounded at least 53.
Colorado has been the site of some of the most heinous mass shootings in US history, including the 1999 shooting in Columbine High School and the 2012 movie theater shooting in Aurora. Colorado Springs was the site of mass shootings at a Planned Parenthood in November 2015 that left three dead and at a birthday party last year that left six dead.
According to data from the Gun Violence Archive, there have been more than 600 mass shootings in the United States so far this year, defined as an incident in which at least four people are shot, excluding the shooter.