Shots fired at LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs killing five patrons

Bouquets of flowers and a sign reading “Love Over Hate” were left near Club Q on Sunday, November 20, 2022. Photo by CNN. 

Tori Miller | News Editor

A 22-year-old entered an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado just before midnight Nov. 19 and immediately opened fire, killing five people and injuring 25 others, before patrons confronted and stopped them. 

While the suspect is already facing state charges, numerous federal agencies and offices, including the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, are aware of the shooting, the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado said in a statement. According to CNN, the office said it would “review all available facts of the incident to determine what federal response is warranted.”

The Club Q shooter was identified as Anderson Lee Aldrich and police have confirmed they were armed with an AR-style weapon and a handgun upon entering the building. Aldrich was quickly taken down and contained by two patrons until police arrived, which officials say likely prevented more people from being killed or injured.

Police are investigating whether the attack was a hate crime and noted Club Q’s relationship with the LGBTQ community.

“Club Q is a safe haven for our LGBTQ citizens,” said Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez. “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.”

As authorities searched for a motive behind the shooting, new information came to light about the suspect’s upbringing and questions have been raised about why previous charges against Aldrich were dropped, according to CNN. Aldrich was born under the name Nicholas Brink and legally changed their name in 2015. 

The name change was the first of many things Aldrich kept quiet. In June 2021, Aldrich was arrested for an alleged bomb threat, one that prompted a partial evacuation of the Colorado Springs neighborhood where their mother lived at the time.

Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report by the Aldrich’s mother who said her child was “threatening to cause harm to her with a homemade bomb, multiple weapons and ammunition,” according to the release. Aldrich was charged with kidnapping and felony menacing, but was never prosecuted, for reasons that remain unclear. No bomb was ever found.

Xavier Kraus, a neighbor of the accused shooter, had experienced Aldrich’s hatred toward certain groups of people first hand. 

Kraus said he specifically remembered one time “Aldrich vocalized verbally” that they “did not like the gays. Using a derogatory term for them.” He added that many other “outbursts” were “racial.”

Aldrich was “not someone I would have around my gay friends,” Kraus said. He said Aldrich never mentioned they were non-binary, according to CNN. 

Currently, no formal charges have been filed, but Michael J. Allen — the district attorney for the area that includes Colorado Springs — said that Aldrich was likely to face murder and “bias-motivated” charges in connection with their arrest. Allen said formal charges were forthcoming, according to The Washington Post.

San Diego’s CBS80, performed a series of interviews with Aaron Brink — Aldrich’s father. Brink expressed panic and worry about his child’s motive — not for allegedly committing the shooting, but for being in a gay bar in the first place. His comments sparked anger online, condemning Brink for relief that his child was “only a mass murderer and not a homosexual,” according to The Guardian.

Aldrich is also the grandchild of outgoing Californian Republican Assemblyman Randy Voepel, according to social media reports and CNN interviews. Voepel served as a state lawmaker since 2016 before losing his re-election bid earlier this month and is known for when he compared the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capital to the Revolutionary War. 

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat and 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.”

The Colorado Springs Police Department identified the five victims as:

  • Raymond Green Vance (he/him)
  • Kelly Loving (she/her)
  • Daniel Aston (he/him)
  • Derrick Rump (he/him)
  • Ashley Paugh (she/ her)

Some of the victims worked at Club Q, while others were there to enjoy the evening festivities. To read more about their stories, click here.

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