Colorado Springs, Colo. — A 28-year-old transgender man who has always been eager to make people laugh is one of five people killed when a gunman opened fire at an LGBTQ nightclub late Saturday, his parents say.
Daniel Aston was a bartender and entertainer at Club Q, where his parents used to attend Cheers in their shows.
“She lit up a room, always smiling, always happy and goofy,” Sabrina Aston told The Associated Press.
Sabrina Aston said her son enjoyed the club because it gave him a safe place to be himself and he liked helping the LGBT community.
“We’re in shock, we cried a little bit, but then you go through this phase where you just go numb, and I’m sure it will hit us again,” she said. “I think it’s a mistake, they made a mistake, and he’s actually alive.”
Arrested, motive being probed
Police identified the gunman as 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, who was arrested within minutes of police arriving at Club Q.
“The motive is still under investigation,” said Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers. NBC’s TODAY Show Monday. “It has all the hallmarks of a hate crime. But we need to look at social media, we need to look at all kinds of other information that we’re gathering from people who know him personally.”
Suthers said the district attorney will file court papers Monday to allow law enforcement to talk more about Aldrich’s criminal history. And he said his city’s residents are rallying behind the club and its patrons.
“We are a community in mourning, but we are a community determined to ensure that the actions of a lone gunman do not define our community,” he said.
heroic protectors put an end to the bloodshed
At least two patrons, who intervened to prevent further injuries and possible loss of life, were called “heroic” by Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez. one of them Grabbed a handgun from the suspect, struck him, and then held him down until police arrived moments later.
“If that person had not intervened, it could have been more tragic,” Suthers told The Associated Press.
At least seven of the 25 injured were in critical condition and some were injured while trying to escape, officials said. Police said it was not clear whether all of them were shot. Suthers said there was “reason to hope” that everyone hospitalized would recover.
With the Club Q shooting, 2022 is set to surpass 2019 for the most mass murders with firearms in a single year in the US, according to the AP/USA Today/Northeastern University database.
When will it close?: LGBTQ community, Pulse survivors react to Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs
the violence lasted only a few minutes
Authorities said officers were called to Club Q, a safe space for the LGBTQ community in the conservative-leaning city, at 11:57 p.m. Saturday, and the first officers arrived at midnight.
Joshua Thurman, 34, said he was at the club with about two dozen other people and was dancing when the shots started. He ran with another person to the dressing room where someone was already hiding. He said he closed the door, turned off the lights and got on the floor, but could hear sounds of violence, including the gunman banging.
“I could have lost my life – on what? What was the purpose?” She said as tears rolled down her cheeks. “We were just enjoying ourselves. We were not harming anyone. We were in our space, our community, our home, enjoying ourselves like everyone else does.
Colorado Springs, a city of approximately 480,000 located 70 miles south of Denver, is home to the US Air Force Academy, the US Olympic Training Center as well as Focus on the Family, a prominent evangelical Christian ministry that supports LGBTQ rights. advocates against.
The group condemned the shooting, saying it “exposes the evil and wickedness deep inside the human heart.”
‘We are all feeling the shock and sadness’:Colorado Springs community mourns Club Q shooting victims
Authorities believe Aldrich, who is currently in custody and receiving treatment for his injuries, acted alone. A law enforcement official said the suspect used an AR-15-style semi-automatic weapon in the attack, but a handgun and additional ammunition magazines were also recovered. The officials could not publicly discuss details of the investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
In An interview with 9NewsA television station in Denver, Colorado, Vasquez said the suspect’s mother was not cooperating with law enforcement and that the suspect was injured when two club patrons confronted her.
In 2021, police said Aldrich was arrested after his mother reported that he had threatened her with homemade bombs and other weapons. Although officials at the time said no explosives were found, gun control advocates are asking why police did not try to trigger Colorado’s “red flag” law, which allows officers to confiscate the weapons his mother had. Got permission.
Anti-LGBTQ rhetoric has intensified
Drag events have recently been a major focus of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and protests. have opponents including politicians Proposed to ban children from participating in drag incidents and falsely claimed that they were addicted to “grooming” children.
In June of this year, 31 members of the neo-Nazi group Patriot Front were arrested in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and charged with conspiracy to riot at a Pride event.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, who in 2018 became the first openly gay man to be elected governor in the US, called the shooting “sickening”.
“My heart breaks for the families and friends of those lost, injured and traumatized by this horrific shooting. I have spoken with Mayor (John) Suthers and made clear that every state resource is available to local law enforcement in Colorado Springs,” Polis said. “Colorado stands with our LGTBQ community and everyone affected by this tragedy.” because we mourn.”
On Sunday, the police ordered flags on all public buildings across the state to fly at half-staff for five days from Monday to honor and remember the five victims. The pride flag will also be hoisted in the state capital for the next five days.
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America was shaken by another firing
The United States has seen several high-profile shootings this year, including two mass shootings. Buffalo, New York, where 10 black people were killed, and Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children and two teachers were killed in May.
Saturday’s shooting is the sixth mass killing this month and evoked memories of the 2016 LGBTQ nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, that killed 49 people and injured 53. The attack at Pulse nightclub was the second deadliest mass shooting in US history.
Colorado has experienced several mass killings, including at Columbine High School in 1999, a movie theater in suburban Denver in 2012, and a Boulder supermarket last year.
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How to help Club Cue shooting victims
The Colorado Healing Fund, a nonprofit that gives people a safe way to donate to victims of mass casualty crimes in Colorado, recently activated to raise funds specifically for Club Q shooting victims and families. to be done.
You can submit donations online at coloradohealingfund.org or through the Colorado Gives website.
You will have the option of making a one-time or recurring donation, and you can also donate in honor or memory of someone else.
Contributing: Susan Miller, Cady Stanton, George L. Ortiz and Rick Jarvis, USA TODAY; Sarah Ann Duenas, USA TODAY Network; Erin Udell, Colorado; The Associated Press