November 20, 2022 mass shooting in Colorado Springs

A police officer sits in their vehicle while responding to a mass shooting at the Club Q gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, U.S., November 20, 2022.
Colorado Springs mayor says 'heroic' individuals subdued shooter with his gun
01:04 - Source: CNN

What we covered here

  • At least five people were killed and 25 others wounded in a shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, according to police.
  • Authorities say the suspected shooter, identified as a 22-year-old man, is in custody and receiving medical treatment.
  • Police praised “at least two heroic people” inside the club who confronted the gunman and stopped the attack.
  • Authorities said the shooting will be investigated as a potential hate crime.
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Here's what we know about the deadly Colorado Springs mass shooting

Community members gather near Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on November 20, following the mass shooting overnight.

A deadly mass shooting has rocked the community of Colorado Springs, Colorado, where police say a 22-year-old gunman entered an LGBTQ nightclub and opened fire.

Here’s what we know:

  • At least five people were killed and 25 others were wounded in a shooting at a venue called Club Q in Colorado Springs late Saturday, according to police. Authorities received numerous 911 calls just before midnight local time and arrived at the club within minutes, said Colorado Springs Police Lt. Pamela Castro.
  • Authorities said the suspected shooter, identified as 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, is in custody and received medical treatment after his arrest.
  • Weapons used: The suspect used a long rifle in the shooting, according to officials, but there were multiple guns found on scene. They are still sorting through the ownership of each weapon.
  • A heroic confrontation: Law enforcement officials praised the heroism of one or more people who fought back and subdued the shooter. The city’s mayor said one of the customers took a handgun from the gunman and hit him with it.
  • It’s too early to determine if the shooting was a hate crime, Colorado Springs police said, but the department will consider that possibility going forward. “Whether this was a hate crime is a part of that investigation,” police Chief Adrian Vasquez said. “There’s a lot of work to be done,” added Michael Allen, a local district attorney.
  • Several victims from the shooting are in critical condition, local hospital officials told reporters Sunday. The victims’ names are not being released until their families are notified. The Colorado Springs mayor said 19 of the 25 people hurt in the attack suffered gunshot wounds, and that he remains hopeful all will survive.

Mayor: Heroes who stopped nightclub attack took the shooter's handgun and hit him with it

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers stands during a news conference, on May 11, 2021.

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers commended the “true act of heroism” that prevented the tragedy inside Club Q from becoming even worse. 

“The call came in to police by 11:57 p.m. (local time). Police were on the scene by 12:00, an amazingly quick response. This incident was over by 12:02,” Suthers told CNN’s Jim Acosta on Sunday.

“And that’s largely because of the intervention of at least one, possibly two very heroic individuals, who subdued this guy, appeared to have taken his handgun. He had a handgun with him, and (they) used it to disable him, not shoot him, but to hit him with the gun and disable him,” the mayor said.

Suthers said that “as tragic as this incident is — it’s a horrible crime — it could have been much, much worse, but for these heroic actors.”

VP Harris says the "epidemic of gun violence in America has struck again"

Vice President Kamala Harris mourned the loss of life and released a statement on Twitter after the shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs overnight:

19 of the 25 people hurt in the Club Q attack were shot, mayor says

Nineteen of the 25 people wounded in the overnight shooting at an LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs sustained gunshot wounds, Mayor John Suthers told CNN’s Jim Acosta Sunday. 

Based on his communication with medical personnel, Suthers said he expects the injured victims to survive, and the community is “crossing our fingers” for no more fatalities. 

Suthers added that the shooting has the “making of a hate crime” but the official motive is still under investigation

Suthers would not confirm if the gunman was wearing tactical gear during the shooting. 

Police say they are investigating Colorado Springs suspect’s past

Police said Sunday they were trying to determine the history of the suspected shooter in the deadly attack on an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs.

A man with same name and age as the shooting suspect was arrested in June of last year in connection with a bomb threat, according to a statement from law enforcement at the time. When asked at a news conference Sunday if it was the same person, officials said they had to follow certain protocols before releasing any information on prior cases.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis later told CNN’s Jim Acosta that he believes the old case was connected to the shooting suspect.

“Everything I heard indicates it is the same person,” Polis said.

According to a June 2021 press release from the El Paso County Sheriff’s office, an Anderson Lee Aldrich was arrested that month on charges of felony menacing and first-degree kidnapping. 

Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report by the man’s mother that he was “threatening to cause harm to her with a homemade bomb, multiple weapons, and ammunition,” according to the press release about the 2021 arrest. 

Deputies called the suspect, and he “refused to comply with orders to surrender,” the press release said, leading them to evacuate nearby homes.

Several hours after the initial police call, the sheriff’s crisis negotiations unit was able to get the man to leave the house he was in, and he was arrested after walking out the front door. Authorities did not find any explosives in the home.

It’s not immediately clear how the case was resolved.

Doctor who treated wounded shooting victims: It's unfortunate hospitals in US are familiar with this scenario

A doctor who was deployed to Iraq to help combat victims in 2005 said the Colorado Springs mass shooting was unfortunately a familiar scenario for many medical workers around the country.

Dr. David Steinbruner, chief medical officer for UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central and Memorial Hospital North, where 11 victims are being treated, said he’s dealt with gunshot victims before.   

“Personally, I was deployed to Iraq, so I’ve dealt with this quite a bit. But it’s unfortunate that hospitals around the United States are becoming quite adept at this,” Steinbruner said during an appearance on “CNN Newsroom” with Paula Reid.  

“We currently have 11 patients from this incident in our hospital at the moment,” Steinbruner said

“There were multiple gunshot wound injuries that we’re taking care of, and I don’t have more specifics than that at this time,” he added.   

Almost all of the patients arrived via EMS or medical transport, according to Steinbruner, though some may have come by themselves via private car later. 

Steinbruner called the collaborative effort between police, fire and EMS, “remarkable.”  

Colorado Springs resident says friends were killed and critically injured in shooting

Lifelong Colorado Springs resident Tiana Nicole Dykes told CNN that she knows people who were killed and critically injured during the shooting.

Dykes said the shock keeps getting worse. She called Club Q “a second home full of chosen family.”

“I’m there every other week if not every single week. This space means the world to me. The energy, the people, the message. It’s an amazing place that didn’t deserve this tragedy,” Dykes told CNN.

She said the mass shooting, which left at least five dead and 25 injured, is deeply unnerving for the LGBTQ community.

“Something like a mass shooting at an LGBT+ safe space is damaging beyond belief. There’s feelings of disrespect, disbelief and just pure shock,” she told CNN. “Nobody ever thinks it’s gonna happen to them, and sometimes it does.”

Police say it’s too early to determine if the shooting at Club Q was a hate crime, but investigators will look into that possibility as they continue their probe.

A safe haven: Tim Curran, a copy editor for CNN’s “Early Start,” visits Club Q with his boyfriend when he visits his family in Colorado Springs.

Curran, who hasn’t been to the club since the pandemic, describes Club Q as one of the few safe spaces for the LGBTQ community in a town where they don’t always feel welcome.

“It’s a very warm, welcoming space, definitely a big step up for diversity in the Springs,” Curran told CNN. “Club Q has a very tight knit community because they’re in the most conservative, big city in Colorado by far and there’s a lot of free-floating homophobia in the city.”

But once patrons step inside — everything disappears, at least for a few hours of music and dancing, Curran says. Visitors and regulars can be found every evening Wednesday through Sunday, either lounging at the bar, laughing with friends at the tables or immediately heading to the dance floor.

Club Q, which Curran describes as a “chill, small-town gay bar where everyone knows everyone,” caters to a racially diverse crowd — including college kids, military and older community members.

Because there is a scarcity of LGBTQ spaces for community members in the Springs, Curran says Club Q serves as a “welcoming, open and useful space” by also regularly hosting all-age events, like brunches and holiday dinners.

House Speaker Pelosi says Colorado shooting shatters "sense of safety of LGBTQ Americans"

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gives a new conference on September 30, in Washington, DC.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the overnight shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs a “senseless slaughter” and said it’s “a reminder that we must keep fighting to do more” to combat gun violence in Congress.

The shooting left five people dead and more than two dozen injured, according to local officials.

“Our hearts break at the senseless slaughter of least five beautiful souls and the many more injured or forever traumatized, at what was a sanctuary of safety and solidarity,” Pelosi wrote in a statement.

“The attack on Club Q, which fell on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, is despicable — further shattering the sense of safety of LGBTQ Americans across the country.  While Democrats have taken important steps to combat gun violence this Congress, this deadly attack is a challenge to our conscience and a reminder that we must keep fighting to do more,” Pelosi added.

The motive of the shooting isn’t yet known, but police are investigating the possibility of a hate crime.

CNN has reached out to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s office for comment as well.

Gabrielle Giffords, a prominent gun control advocate and former congresswoman, also reacted to the deadly shooting:

Giffords survived the 2011 shooting of 18 people in a Safeway parking lot in Tucson, Arizona, in which six died. She was targeted in the attack and was shot in the head.

Number of people wounded in Colorado Springs mass shooting increases to 25

A Colorado Springs Community Service vehicle is parked near Club Q on Sunday.

The number of people wounded in a mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs has increased to 25, city officials said in an online update.  

“Five people have been killed and 25 others are injured,” the city said. “Victims are being treated at both UCHealth Memorial and Penrose hospitals. The names of the victims are not being released until their families are notified.” 

The update also noted that “multiple firearms were found at the scene. Law enforcement is still working to identify who the firearms belonged to.”

In a Sunday morning news conference, officials said the number of those injured may change as people self-reported to hospitals in the hours after the shooting.

The suspect, Anderson Lee Aldrich, “immediately” began firing after he walked into the club late Saturday night, police Chief Adrian Vasquez said at the earlier news conference.  

The suspect used a long rifle in the shooting, according to officials.

United Airlines has offered services for those trying to reach family members who were impacted, with “complimentary roundtrip air transportation to up to five family members each victim,” the city said. 

Biden on Colorado Springs mass shooting: "Jill and I are praying for the families"

President Joe Biden said that he and first lady Jill Biden are praying for the families of the those killed in the shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Biden released a statement reacting to the shooting at the LGBTQ nightclub and condemned the violence.

“While no motive in this attack is yet clear, we know that the LGBTQI+ community has been subjected to horrific hate violence in recent years. Gun violence continues to have a devastating and particular impact on LGBTQI+ communities across our nation and threats of violence are increasing,” Biden said in the written statement. 

He added: “Jill and I are praying for the families of the five people killed in Colorado Springs last night, and for those injured in this senseless attack.”

Lawmakers and officials from around the country also condemned the fatal mass shooting.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg

Florida Rep. Val Demings

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker tweeted: “My heart breaks for the victims and loved ones of yet another mass shooting. Hate has no place in our country. I call on my colleagues in Congress to put politics aside so we can work together to stop this hate and gun violence.”

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren

Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert

Until recently, Club Q was the only LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs

Flowers and a sign reading "Love Over Hate" are left near Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on November 20.

Club Q opened in 2002 and was, until recently, the only LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs, the state’s second-most populous city with just under 500,000 residents.

“Proudly queer Club Q has stood as a bastion of the LGBTQ community where others have fallen,” 5280 magazine wrote in a story last year. “It’s where LGBTQ folks go for drag performances, dance parties, and drinks, and it supports the community with event sponsorships, pride celebrations, charity drives, and more. While the club has recently shifted to offering more low-key ‘dinner and a show’ vibes before 10 p.m., it’s still known as the place for queer young adults to go and get their dance on.”

In a July 2020 interview with Colorado Springs Indy, Club Q owner Nic Grzecka explained why he and his business partner opened the establishment.

“The whole idea of this place (Club Q) is to have a safe place — to get a permanent one in the city,” Grzecka says.

He and his business partner toured other successful LGBTQ spaces and noted a common theme: “They were gay as hell,” Grzecka told the outlet. “They had go-go dancers and drag queens and bartenders in jockstraps. We knew we had to be gay as hell (to survive).”

The venue also hosts events for people of all ages, including brunches and an upcoming Thanksgiving event.

CNN’s Alaa Elassar contributed to this report.

Several people are in critical condition after club shooting, hospital officials say

Several victims from the Club Q shooting are in critical condition and being treated at hospital intensive care units, officials from Penrose Hospital and UCHealth Memorial Hospital system told reporters Sunday.

Penrose Hospital chief medical officer Dr. Bill Plauth said seven victims were taken to his hospital with two people remaining in critical care. Critical care implies the injuries are life-threatening, he added.

“The other five patients mainly had extremity injuries and two have already been treated and released back to the community,” he said. “The others that have been admitted to the hospital, still undergoing treatment.”

Dr. David Steinbruner, of UCHealth Memorial Hospital system, said that his medical center received a total of 10 patients.

“Both trauma teams at both hospitals were spun up and responded, the ERs responded, and we (were) able to take care of this very rapidly, and get the patients taken care of as well as we could at the time,” he said.

“We do have patients in critical condition as well,” Steinbruner said. “Several people being taken care of in our ICU.”

The injured victims were transferred to three different hospitals, according to Fire Chief Randy Royal.  

Centura Penrose Hospital received seven patients, UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central received 10 patients, and UCHealth Memorial Hospital North received two, Royal said.  

Police say they’re investigating whether shooting was a hate crime

Police Chief Adrian Vasquez speaks during a press conference on Sunday.

It’s too early to determine if the shooting at Club Q was a hate crime, Colorado Springs police said Sunday morning, but the department will consider that possibility going forward.

“The motive of the crime is part of the investigation and whether this was a hate crime is a part of that investigation,” Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said. 

“There’s a lot of work to be done,” added Michael Allen, the district attorney for Colorado’s 4th Judicial District.

At this time, his office is serving in a supporting capacity, but in the next few days the case will be transferred to the district attorney for charges and additional suspects.   

“I can promise you that the DA’s office will put together a strong team, and we will work tirelessly to achieve justice,” Allen said.   

“Every person, regardless of who they are, has a right to be secure from fear and physical harm, and actions taken to strike fear in specific communities will not be tolerated in our community,” he added.

In a statement early Sunday morning, the club referred to the shooting as a “hate attack.”

District attorney identifies 22-year-old man as shooting suspect

T shooting suspect has been identified as 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, said Michael Allen, district attorney for Colorado’s 4th Judicial District, during a news conference.

Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said that, according to witnesses, the suspect entered Club Q with a rifle and started firing.  

“Initial evidence and interviews indicate that the suspect entered Club Q and immediately began shooting at people inside as he moved further into the club,” Vasquez said.

“While the suspect was inside of the club, at least two heroic people inside the club confronted and fought with the suspect and were able to stop the suspect from continuing to kill and harm others. We owe them a great debt of thanks. As the investigation is still in its early stages we are not going to identify any of the witnesses inside of the club at this time,” Vasquez continued.

A long rifle was used in the shooting and two firearms were found at the scene, Vasquez told reporters.

The police are not naming witnesses or those killed at this time, Vasquez said. Police are still working to identify the victims and notify families. 

Colorado governor: Mass shooting at Club Q is "sickening"

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis speaks during a news conference on November 1.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, the nation’s first openly gay governor, called the deadly Club Q mass shooting in Colorado Springs “sickening.”  

“This is horrific, sickening, and devastating. My heart breaks for the family and friends of those lost, injured, and traumatized in this horrific shooting,” Polis said in a statement, according to his office.  

“I have spoken with Mayor Suthers and made it clear 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 LGTBQ community and everyone impacted by this tragedy as we mourn together.” 

Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper also reacted to the mass shooting on Twitter.   

“Horrendous to hear about the shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs. An unspeakable act. We have to protect LGBTQ lives from this hate,” Hickenlooper tweeted.

Bennet tweeted:  “I’m devastated to hear about the shooting in Colorado Springs that cut five more lives tragically short. I’m thinking of their families and loved ones, and sending strength to those who were injured, the survivors, and Colorado’s LGBTQ community.”  

Colorado Springs hospital says it's treating at least five people from the Club Q shooting

First responders secure the scene of the shooting at Club Q on Sunday.

At least five patients wounded in the mass shooting at Club Q are in treatment at UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central in Colorado Springs, the vice president for hospital communications Dan Weaver said.  

 In an email to CNN, Weaver wrote:  

“Our thoughts are with our Colorado Springs community and everyone involved in the tragic shooting late Saturday night. UCHealth Memorial is caring for five patients from the incident. We do not have any additional information to share at this time.”  

At least five people were killed during the mass shooting and 18 others were injured, CNN previously reported.  

Club Q credits "heroic" customers for taking down gunman

Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

In a statement on Facebook, Club Q said it was “devastated by the senseless attack on our community” and offered condolences to victims and their families.

Details of how the shooting ended have yet to be released, but a police spokesperson said “this was not an officer-involved shooting.”

At least 5 people killed, 18 injured in a shooting at LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs

Police respond to the scene of a shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on November 20.

At least five people were killed and 18 others injured in a mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub on Saturday in Colorado Springs, Colorado, according to police.

Authorities received numerous 911 calls starting at 11:57 p.m. local time and responded to the scene at Club Q, said Colorado Springs Police Lt. Pamela Castro.

“They did locate one individual who we believe to be the suspect inside,” said Castro. “At this point in time, the suspect is being treated, but is in custody.”

Castro did not clarify whether the suspect was included in the count of people who were injured in the shooting.

Police declined to speak about a possible motive. 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.