(CNN) — A 22-year-old gunman killed at least five people and injured 25 others at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, shortly before midnight Saturday, police said Sunday.
The suspect in the Club Q shooting was identified as Anderson Lee Aldrich, according to Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez.
Upon entering the club, he immediately opened fire before at least two people inside confronted and fought him, avoiding further casualties, Vasquez said.
“We owe them a huge debt of gratitude,” he said.
Aldrich is being treated at a hospital, police said. The officers did not shoot him, he added.
Colorado has witnessed some of the worst mass shootings in American history, including the 1999 Columbine High School massacre. Last year in Colorado Springs, a mass shooting at a birthday party left six people dead.
Here’s what we know about the fatal Colorado Springs attack:
The shooting lasted only a few minutes.
The violent actions lasted only a few minutes. Police received numerous 911 calls beginning at 11:56 p.m., officers were dispatched at 11:57 p.m., an officer arrived at midnight and the suspect was taken into custody at 12:02 a.m., police said. A total of 39 patrol cars responded, police said, and Fire Department Capt. Mike Smaldino said 11 ambulances responded to the scene.
Aldrich used a long rifle in the shooting and two firearms were found at the scene, said Vasquez, the police chief.
Joshua Thurman told CNN affiliate KOAA that he was inside the club dancing when he heard gunshots and saw a flash.
“I thought it was the music, so I kept dancing,” she said. When he heard another round of gunshots, Thurman said he ran into a dressing room to hide.
He said he heard the sound of more gunshots, people crying and broken windows. When she got out, she saw bodies lying on the ground, broken glass and blood, Thurman said.
Authorities initially said 18 people were injured, but later adjusted the total to 25.
Nineteen of the 25 injured had gunshot wounds, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers told CNN’s Jim Acosta on Sunday. According to communication with medical personnel, Suthers said he hopes the injured victims survive and that the community is “crossing our fingers” that there are no more deaths.
Police are investigating whether the attack was a hate crime
Police said they were investigating whether the attack was a hate crime, noting Club Q’s relationship with the LGBTQ community. The shooting came as the calendar turned to Transgender Remembrance Day on Sunday.
“Club Q is a safe haven for our LGBTQ citizens,” Vasquez said. “Every citizen has the right to feel safe and protected in our city, to tour our beautiful city without fear of being harmed or mistreated.”
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 the heroic patrons who subdued the attacker and ended this hateful attack.”
A man with the same name as the suspect was arrested last year.
Two law enforcement sources confirmed that the alleged nightclub shooter’s date of birth and name matched a person who was arrested for a bomb threat the previous year, and Colorado Gov. Jared Polis also told CNN he believed that They were the same: “Everything I’ve heard indicates it’s the same person,” Polis said.
Anderson Lee Aldrich was arrested in June 2021 after a confrontation at a Colorado Springs home where his mother lived, according to a news release from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office at the time, and his mother’s former landlord. .
Video obtained by CNN shows Aldrich turning himself in to law enforcement last year after allegedly making a bomb threat. Camera footage from the homeowner’s doorstep shows Aldrich leaving the house with his hands up and bare feet, and walking toward the sheriff’s deputies.
Sheriff’s deputies said in the June statement that they responded to a report from Aldrich’s mother that he was “threatening to harm her with a pipe bomb, multiple weapons and ammunition.”
Agents called the suspect and he “refused to comply with orders to turn himself in,” the news release said, prompting them to evacuate nearby homes.
Several hours after the initial call to police, the sheriff’s crisis negotiations unit managed to get Aldrich out of the house he was staying in and arrested him after walking out the front door. Authorities found no explosives in the house.
It was not immediately clear how the case was resolved. But the Colorado Springs Gazette reported that the district attorney’s office said no formal charges were filed in the case. The district attorney’s office did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
Aldrich also called out The Gazette in an attempt to remove an earlier story about the 2021 incident from the website, the newspaper reported. “There is absolutely nothing there, the case is dropped and I am asking you to remove or update the story,” Aldrich said in a voicemail, according to the Gazette.
Attempts by CNN to reach Aldrich’s mother for comment were unsuccessful.
The club was a ‘second home’ for the LGBTQ community
Club Q opened in 2002 and was, until recently, the only LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs.
The city is the second most populous in the state with just under 500,000 inhabitants and is home to several military bases. It is the headquarters of Focus on the Family, the conservative Christian group that says homosexuality and same-sex marriage are sins.
In a July 2020 interview with Colorado Springs Indy, Club Q owner Nic Grzecka said he and his business partner opened the club to obtain a “permanent” safe place in the city.
The venue also hosts events for people of all ages, including a brunch and planned an upcoming Thanksgiving event.
Colorado Springs resident Tiana Nicole Dykes called Club Q “a second home full of chosen families.”
“I’m there every other week, if not every week. This space means the world to me. The energy, the people, the message. It’s an incredible place that didn’t deserve this tragedy,” Dykes told CNN on Sunday. “Something like a mass shooting in an LGBT+ safe space is harmful beyond belief. There are feelings of disrespect, disbelief, and sheer shock. Nobody ever thinks it’s going to happen to them, and sometimes it does.”
What political leaders say
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat and the nation’s first openly gay governor, issued a statement Sunday calling the attack “horrific, disgusting and devastating” and offered state resources to local law enforcement.
“We are forever grateful for the brave people who blocked the gunman who likely saved lives in the process and for the first responders who quickly responded to this horrific shooting,” he said. “Colorado stands with our LGBTQ community and all those affected by this tragedy as we mourn together.”
Polis told CNN’s Jim Acosta that there are only two gay bars in Colorado Springs, and Club Q was one of the main venues.
“Everybody knew. I knew it, I knew this place. It is shocking. People are barely understanding it. But I know that we will recover. We are showing love for each other. We are showing healing for one another,” the governor said.
Colorado’s two US senators, both Democrats, offered condolences in remarks and said more must be done for the LGBTQ community.
“We have to protect LGBTQ lives from this hate,” said Senator John Hickenlooper.
“As we seek justice for this unimaginable act, we must do more to protect the LGBTQ community and stand strong against discrimination and hate in all its forms,” said Senator Michael Bennett.
President Joe Biden also issued a statement saying he was praying for the victims and their families.
“While the motive for this attack is still unclear, we know that the LGBTQI+ community has been subjected to horrific hate violence in recent years. Gun violence continues to have a particularly devastating impact on LGBTQI+ communities across our nation, and threats of violence are increasing,” Biden said in the written statement.
CNN’s Casey Tolan, Alaa Elassar, Sam Fossum, Rosa Flores, Nelli Black and John Miller contributed to this report.