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November 20, 2022 mass shooting in Colorado Springs
By Matt Meyer, Maureen Chowdhury and Mike Hayes, CNN
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.
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.”
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:
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 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.
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."
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 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.