Five people were killed and 25 were injured in a shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub on Saturday night in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
A suspect, identified as Andrew Lee Aldrich, 22, was in custody and was being treated for injuries after the attack at Club Q, according to Colorado Springs police.
Massive emergency response takes over
A spokesperson for the Colorado Springs Fire Department (CSFD) said that 34 firefighters and 11 ambulances were deployed to the scene of the shooting, transporting 2-3 victims at a time.
“The hospitals are helping us to notify families of the injured… we do have officers at every hospital with all the victims,” Lt. Castro added.
In its Google listing, Club Q describes itself as an "adult-oriented gay and lesbian nightclub hosting theme nights such as karaoke, drag shows & DJs."
On its Facebook page, a statement from Club Q said it was "devastated by the senseless attack on our community ... We thank the quick reactions of heroic customers that subdued the gunman and ended this hate attack."
This post came just hours after the club advertised for a drag brunch to be hosted there later on Sunday afternoon.
The police did not give any information on the motivation behind the attack.
Images of the scene after the shooting showed security and emergency vehicles with flashing blinkers parked on a street near the venue.
“Unfortunately these are events we do train for, as far as what we call a ‘mass casualty,’ so that is why we had such a big response,”Capt. Mike Smaldino, of the Colorado Springs Fire Department (CSFD) told local media. “Working with the police, we were able to get everybody transported out of here in a pretty quick manner and get them to the hospital, where they have a better chance for their injuries.”
By 4 a.m. (1100 GMT), police had taped off the area around the club, which is located in a strip mall on the outskirts of Colorado Springs.
Politicians, queer groups respond to the shooting
"Places that are supposed to be safe spaces of acceptance and celebration should never be turned into places of terror and violence. Yet it happens far too often," said US President Joe Biden. "We must drive out the inequities that contribute to violence against LGBTQI+ people. We cannot and must not tolerate hate."
Colorado Governor Jared Polis, the first openly-gay man elected governor in the US, called the attack "horrific, sickening and devastating."
"My heart breaks for the family and friends of those lost, injured and traumatized in this terrible shooting," wrote Polis. "I have spoken with Mayor Suthers and clarified that every state resource is available to local law enforcement in Colorado Springs. We are eternally grateful for the brave individuals who blocked the gunman, likely saving lives in the process, and for the first responders who responded swiftly to this horrific shooting. Colorado stands with our LGBTQ Community and everyone impacted by this tragedy as we mourn."
Colorado Senator John Hickenlooper responded to the attack on Sunday, stating "Horrendous to hear about the shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs. An unspeakable act. We have to protect LGBTQ lives from this hate."
Horrendous to hear about the shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs. An unspeakable act. We have to protect LGBTQ lives from this hate.— Senator John Hickenlooper (@SenatorHick) November 20, 2022
“As we pray for those fighting for life, we must use loud voices to stand up against hate,” Rep.-elect Eric Sorensen (D), the first openly gay person elected to Congress from the state of Illinois, tweeted early Sunday.
Sorenson continued, “our country must turn down the hateful rhetoric aimed at our LGBTQ community.”
President of the LGBTQ+ advocacy group GLAAD, Sarah Kate Ellis, responded to the attack on Sunday, stating "Our hearts are broken for the victims of the horrific tragedy in Colorado Springs, and their loved ones. This unspeakable attack has robbed countless people of their friends and family and an entire community’s sense of safety."
The Agudah – The Association for LGBTQ+ Equality in Israel - expressed solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community in Colorado on Sunday morning, as LGBTQ+ communities around the world marked the Transgender Day of Remembrance.
"Just today, we are marking the Transgender Day of Remembrance in memory of the victims of transphobia, hatred and oppression and we have already received another reminder that hatred and LGBTQphobia kill and are everywhere," said the Agudah. "We all wish for better days in which our community members, everywhere, will be safe and feel safe and be able to be who they are."
The Agudah's hotline is available on Sunday evening by dialing *2982.
Prime Minister Yair Lapid tweeted that he was "appalled by the horrific shooting in Colorado Springs."
"The thoughts and prayers of millions of Israelis are with the victims, their loved ones and the entire LGBTQ+ community," tweeted Lapid. "We stand with the LGBTQ+ community and with all Americans at this difficult time."
Appalled by the horrific shooting in Colorado Springs. The thoughts and prayers of millions of Israelis are with the victims, their loved ones and the entire LGBTQ+ community. We stand with the LGBTQ+ community and with all Americans at this difficult time. ️— יאיר לפיד - Yair Lapid (@yairlapid) November 20, 2022
Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, a survivor of the 2018 Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue shooting, expressed support for the LGBTQ+ community on Sunday, stating "To the LGBTQ community in Colorado Springs and across the country, you have our prayers and our support, understanding that so much more is needed."
"We know all too well the pain you feel. May the memories of those taken violently from you last night be for a blessing. May those who were injured be enveloped in love and kindness while they heal. And may all whose lives are forever changed by the violence find peace and healing,” said Myers.
“To my fellow Americans, we have failed again. Homophobia and transphobia are deadly. We've known this and yet here we are again. We do not know our neighbors. Rather people in positions of power manipulate too many into being violently afraid of their neighbors. We may not rid the world of homophobia, transphobia, racism or antisemitism, but it is incumbent upon each of us to try.”
Carole Zawatsky, CEO of Tree of Life, stressed that the shooting in Colorado Springs is a consquence of the increase in homophobic and transphobic rhetoric.
"Hate – whether homophobia, transphobia, racism or antisemitism – is taught. Homophobia and transphobia aren’t solely problems for the LGBTQ community. They are everyone’s problem. It is incumbent upon us all to stand against hate. As the leader of an institution dedicated to ending antisemitism, we know that we must also be allies in the work to end homophobia and transphobia.”
In response to the shooting, the Jewish Federations of North America issued a statement, saying that the movement was " horrified by the shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, which has once again targeted the LGBTQ+ community. It is particularly painful on this trans day of remembrance."
The Human Rights Campaign organization responded to the attack as well, tweeting "We are heartbroken to learn of the senseless & tragic gun violence that took at least 5 lives & injured others in Colorado Springs. Today, on #TransDayofRemembrance, we send love & strength to our LGBTQ+ family at Club Q, & condemn hate in all its forms."
In 2016, a gunman killed 49 people at gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, before he was shot dead by police. At the time it was the worst mass shooting in recent US history.
The shooter had claimed allegiance to a leader of Islamic State. He was killed in an exchange of gunfire with police.