An armed 22-year-old entered an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, just before midnight Saturday night and immediately opened fire, killing at least five people and injuring 18 others, before patrons stopped and disarmed him, police said Sunday.
The suspect in the shooting at Club Q was identified as Anderson Lee Aldrich, according to Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez. He used a long rifle in the shooting, and two firearms were found at the scene, he said.
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.
The incident lasted just minutes. Police received numerous 911 calls starting at 11:56 p.m., officers were dispatched at 11:57 p.m., an officer arrived at midnight and the suspect was detained at 12:02 a.m., police said. A total of 39 patrol officers responded in all, police said.
Of the 18 people injured, several are in critical condition with gunshot wounds, though the exact number was unclear, officials said.
The suspect is being treated at a hospital, police added. Officers did not shoot at him, police said.
Police declined to speak about a possible motive in this latest shooting, though authorities 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.”
The location of the shooting 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.
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.
Colorado Springs Fire Capt. Mike Smaldino said 11 ambulances responded to the scene after multiple 911 calls were received.
“We will be here for many, many hours to come,” said Castro, adding that the FBI is on the scene and assisting.
At least five patients are being treated at UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central, vice president for hospital communications Dan Weaver said.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, the nation’s first openly gay governor, issued a statement calling the attack “horrific, sickening and devastating” and offered state resources to local law enforcement.
“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,” he said. “Colorado stands with our LGTBQ community and everyone impacted by this tragedy as we mourn together.”