Survivor of Colorado Springs gay club shooting that left five dead and 25 injured says he mistook gunshots for music before hiding – as cops consider hate charges against 22-year-old suspect who was arrested for bomb threat last year
- Five people were killed when a gunman opened fire at a Colorado Springs club
- Police say 25 people were injured during the Club Q shooting last night
- Authorities say Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, entered the gay club just before midnight and fired an unknown number of bullets from an AR-15 style long rifle before he was tackled to the ground by two patrons
- Aldrich is now in protective custody at a local hospital for unknown injuries
- He was previously arrested for making a bomb threat in June 2021 but was never formally charged
A man who survived a deadly attack at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs Saturday night told how he hid in a dressing room with two other people after shots rang out.
Joshua Thurman, 34, told reporters how he had been dancing on the dancefloor at Club Q when he first heard about four or five gunshots.
‘I thought it was the music because there were no screams, no shouts of “Help, help,” nothing like that,’ he said. ‘Then I heard more shots and saw the flash from the muzzle of the gun.’
‘When I realized what was going on, I ran to the dressing room immediately. There was a customer that followed me, and there was a drag performer, Del Lusional, who was in the dressing room. I made them lock the doors and we got down on the floor and cut out the lights immediately.’
From their hiding spot, Thurman said: ‘We heard everything, we heard more shots fired, we heard the assailant be beat up by someone who I assume tackled him, we heard the police come in, we heard them yelling at him, we heard then saying “Check certain people, ’cause they’re critical,” we heard everything.
‘And all I can think about is everything — my life, just everything, friends, family, loved ones,’ the distraught man said through tears.
By the time they got out of the dressing room, Thurman said he saw bodies on the ground.
‘There was broken glass, blood — I lost friends!’
Joshua Thurman, a survivor of the Club Q shooting Saturday night, was seen wiping away tears on Sunday
Thurman told reporters on Sunday how he was able to run from the gunman and hide in a dressing room
Thurman said he went to the club that night to celebrate his birthday when a gunman entered the gay nightclub many in Colorado Springs’ LGBTQ community considered a home and started firing an unknown number of bullets from his AR-15-style long rifle
Thurman said he went to the club that night to celebrate his birthday when a gunman entered the gay nightclub many in Colorado Springs’ LGBTQ community considered ‘like a home’ and started firing an unknown number of bullets from his AR-15-style long rifle.
He was able to kill five people and injure 25 others before he was stopped by two heroic patrons who tackled him to the ground, authorities say.
Early reports suggest the gunman was wearing bulletproof armor at the time.
‘Their actions clearly saved lives,’ Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said at a news conference Sunday morning, noting that another firearm was found on the scene.
Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, was then arrested at the scene and is now in protective custody at a local hospital for unknown injuries. The Colorado Springs man was previously arrested for threatening his mom with a homemade bomb in June 2021, but no formal charges were ever made.
Tim Bates, Erric Ramirez, Malissa Ramirez, Trinity Ramirez, and Fred Ramirez deliver flowers to the memorial
A Colorado Springs Community Service officer speaks with Jace Khosla, of Pueblo, Colorado, the morning after a mass shooting at Club Q as he carries flowers to the scene
Michael Robert Travis played taps at the scene of the shooting Saturday night, while his husband, Michael Travis, filmed on his phone
Nelly Brusnell signs a cross on the chest of Ivanna Brusnell after placing flowers near a gay nightclub
Clothe were still strewn around the street in the aftermath of the shooting at Club Q Sunday morning
A memorial was set up outside the gay nightclub on Sunday, with bouquets of flowers left at the scene
Numerous victims, some in critical condition, were transported to three nearby hospitals following the shooting Saturday night.
The names of the victims have not yet been released, pending notification of their loved ones. But the deceased is said to have included at least one bartender.
FBI agents are now assisting Colorado Springs police with the investigation to ‘determine what federal response is warranted.’
Authorities say it is too early to determine if the shooting was a targeted hate crime.
But the mass shooting has prompted even pro-gun advocate Rep. Lauren Boebert to say: ‘This lawless violence needs to end and end quickly.’
Five people have died after a gunman opened fire inside a gay nightclub in Colorado last night
Colorado Springs police say Anderson Lee Aldrich entered Club Q just before midnight and fired an unknown amount of bullets from his long rifle before he was stopped by at least two ‘heroic’ patrons who tackled him to the ground
Authorities say Aldrich had used a long rifle in the massacre, and another firearm was found at the scene
On its Facebook page, a statement from Club Q sad it was ‘devastated by the senseless attack on our community’
Colorado Springs police received initial reports of an active shooting at the club around 11.57pm last night.
The first officers arrived on the scene within three minutes of the call, and Anderson was detained at 12.02am.
Images from the scene showed multiple security and emergency vehicles with flashing blinkers parked on a street near the venue.
Clothes were seen strewn along the street Sunday morning, as police continued to scour the site for any evidence. Homicide investigators will remain at the scene for ‘many, many hours.’
Police did not give any information on the motivation behind the attack.
North Academy Boulevard between North Carefree Circle and Village Seven Road will remain closed while officials search the scene. Residents are advised to avoid the area.
Anyone who witnessed the shooting or has video footage of the attack is also asked to contact the police.
Authorities remained on the scene of the shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs into Sunday morning
At least 25 people were injured after shots were fired inside Club Q (pictured last night) in Colorado Springs just before midnight, a police spokesperson has confirmed
Images from the scene showed multiple security and emergency vehicles with flashing blinkers parked on a street near the venue
Homicide investigators will remain at the scene for ‘many, many hours’ as authorities work to process the scene. The police did not give any information on the motivation behind the attack or the type of gun used
North Academy Boulevard between North Carefree Circle and Village Seven Road will remain closed while officials search the scene. Residents are advised to avoid the area
The FBI Denver office confirmed on Twitter Sunday morning that they are assisting Colorado Springs police in the investigation
The shooting comes one year after a 21-year-old man named Anderson Lee Aldrich was arrested for making a bomb threat in Colorado Springs.
A woman told police at the time that her son had a homemade bomb, multiple weapons and ammunition.
Nearly 10 homes were evacuated in the aftermath, KRDO reported at the time, but no bombs were found at the scene.
Authorities said at the time that he initially refused to comply with deputy’s demands to surrender, but following a one-hour standoff he backed down.
Aldrich was booked into the El Paso County Jail facing two counts of felony menacing and three counts of first-degree kidnapping.
But Aldrich was never formally charged in the threat, and the case was sealed.
Leslie Bowman told the New York Times that the terrifying incident took place at her home, where she had been renting a spare room to Aldrich’s mother, Laura Voepel. She believed Aldrich was living with his grandparents nearby at the time.
She said she was not home at the time, but received a call from Voepel that said “Don’t come home right now, there are some people looking for Andy.”
Bowman kicked Voepel out of the home two days later, and had not seen her since. But, she said, about one month ago, police stopped by her house looking for Voepel for a welfare check.
Bowman now says she remembers Aldric having an ‘aggressive side’ saying he once slammed the door in her face when his mother was upset about a repair in her bathroom.
Following the shooting on Saturday, Bowman wondered why Aldrich was never imprisoned following the threat, noting: ‘After that initial day, police never reached out to me for additional information.
‘I’m a Second Amendment supporter, don’t get me wrong,’ Bowman told the Times. ‘But for him to be out there and have access to weapons after that incident, I don’t understand it.’
Club Q describes itself as an ‘adult-oriented gay and lesbian nightclub hosting theme nights such as karaoke, drag shows & DJs’
The club was hosting a drag show earlier in the night, and was scheduled to stay open until 2am
Frequent clubgoers took to Facebook to express their shock at the shooting
Club Q describes itself online as an ‘adult-oriented gay and lesbian nightclub hosting theme nights such as karaoke, drag shows & DJs.’
How Colorado went from the ‘hate state’ to electing a gay governor
Jared Polis became Colorado’s first openly gay governor in 2018
Colorado was once known as ‘The Hate State’ after voters in 1992 passed a ballot proposition that banned anti-discrimination ordinances.
But in the years since, the Centennial State has become a beacon of gay rights.
It formally recognized same-sex marriage in 2014 — one year before the Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
And four years later, Colorado elected its first openly gay governor, Jared Polis. He is just the second openly LGBTQ individual to be elected governor of a state in the US, after Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon, a Democrat who identifies as bisexual, was first elected in a special election in 2016.
Polis said during his run in 2018 he found Colorado voters to be more concerned about kitchen-table issues than his sexuality.
But he also used his platform to advocate for LGBTQ rights, signing into law a ban on the use of therapy that seeks to change minors’ sexual orientation or gender identity in 2019.
He also approved a measure allowing transgender people to update their gender on their birth certificates and other documents just one year after taking office.
‘Today Colorado took an important step forward in recognizing our diversity as a strength,’ Polis told NBC News in an emailed statement at the time.
‘These bills truly underscore the idea that Colorado is a state where everyone can be their true selves and live the life they want.’
Now, Polis is a vocal critic against the rise of attacks on the LGBTQ community in recent years.
‘Look, words matter. Laws matter. When a group of people, LGBTQ youth, feel targeted by the words and laws that some politicians espouse, of course, it can increase anxiety, depression,’ the governor said in an interview with CNN earlier this year.
The club was scheduled to celebrate Transgender Day of Remembrance on Sunday ‘with a variety of gender identities and performance styles,’ following an all-ages musical drag brunch that morning.
An online review called Club Q a ‘fun, inclusive place to hang out,’ with one visitor saying ‘everyone is so freaking kind,’ while another said that they were ‘glad to see a good queer space in Colorado Springs.’
On its Facebook page, a statement from Club Q sad it was ‘devastated by the senseless attack on our community.’
‘Our prays (sic) and thoughts are with all the victims and their families and friends,’ the club wrote.
‘We thank the quick reactions of heroic customers that subdued the gunman and ended this hate attack.’
Frequent clubgoers posted their shock about the shooting on Facebook, with one woman writing: ‘My heart goes out to my Colorado Springs family. My Colorado Springs Drag sisters.
‘I cannot believe this is happening in a place we call a safe space we had that taken from us tonight. My heart is shattered,’ Carzsa Maestas wrote.
‘Club Q is where I started by Drag career. It’s my home bar. This is absolutely beyond devastating and I pray to God that everyone there tonight is OK.’
Survivors of the rampage have described the bloody scene Aldrich apparently left in his wake.
Michael Anderson, 25, told the Mirror how he was working at the bar when he first heard the gunshots.
‘I saw a person with a gun, and I immediately ducked behind the bar, and glass was flying around me,’ he said.
Anderson then escaped to the outdoor patio, where he found somewhere to hide and hunkered down with two clubgoers. From there, he said, they watched a group flee through a door they had managed to pry open.
‘I was afraid I was going to die,’ he said. ‘I was prepared to get shot when the shots stopped.
‘After a minute or two, I wasn’t sure if it was over or not so I got up and decided to make a run for it.’
As he ran,Anderson said he saw a man lying on the ground with a potentially fatal neck injury, and when he got inside, he said, he saw ‘two people had seemingly detained someone on the ground and were kicking them and ylling at them.
He then ran behind the bar to grab his belongings before fleeing to his car.
‘The cops arrived in mass numbers by this time,’ Anderson said. ‘I told them I believed the shooter was down on the dance floor and the shots had stopped.
He said he is now praying for the people at the hospital, but said: ‘Our community is strong and remains united.
‘We ask for your prayers and support.’
Angelo Patino, 18, meanwhile, performed a drag show at the club Saturday night, but left about half an hour before the shooting.
‘I am in shock,’ he told the New York Times, noting the club ‘was my safe space.’
‘It hurts me that I could not protect my friends when they needed it,’ he said.
Another man who had left the club just 10 minutes before the shots were fired also told KRDO how he was able to connect with one of his friends who was shot at the hospital.
He told the news station that his friend described the shooter as a man wearing a mask and a bulletproof vest.
Another of his friends, though, was killed in the massacre.
‘It’s hard to hear, it’s hard to see,’ the man, only identified as Joseph, told KRDO. ‘These people at the bar, they’re friends, they’re family.’
All Souls Unitarian Church will be holding a gathering at noon, local time, on Sunday, while Temple Beit Torah is hosting a Trans Day of Remembrance service.
Former employee Greg Resha, also known as Kyree Myst, has also set up a GoFundMe to help pay for the victims’ medical and funeral expenses.
As of Sunday afternoon, more than $3,100 had already been raised for the victims.
Although the motive behind last night’s shooting was not immediately known, the tragedy brought back memories of the 2016 massacre at the the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that killed 49 people.
Gunman Omar Mateen was killed on the scene after his gun jammed.
How America’s gay clubs and bars have been targeted in hate attacks
Saturday’s shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs is just the most recent attack targeting gay clubs in America’s history.
In 1973, 32 people died in an arson attack at the UpStairs Lounge, a gay bar in the French Quarter in New Orleans. The arsonist was never arrested.
On November 18, 1980 a gunman killed two men in front of two gay venues in New York City’s West Village.
A former transit police officer, who was also a minister’s son, fired a submachine gun indiscriminately at men standing in front of the Ramrod, a popular leather bar, and the Sneakers bar on West Street.
In 1997, an explosion injured five people at a gay bar in Atlanta. Eric R. Rudolph, a right-wing extremist, claimed responsibility for that and a series of other bombings.
In 2000, a former Marine who said that he was on a mission to kill gay people, shot and killed a man and injured six others in Roanoke, Virginia
In 2016, a gunman killed 49 people and wounded 53 others at Pulse, a crowded gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida in the second deadliest mass shooting in American history.
The Club Q shooting also comes as America celebrates Trans Day of Remembrance.
Additionally, Colorado is a state that has experienced several notorious mass killings, including at Columbine High School, a movie theater in a Denver suburb in 2012 and a Boulder supermarket last year.
A gunman also killed six people at a birthday party on Mother’s Day last year before taking his own life, and in 2015, a man with an assault-style rifle killed three people and wounded nine others at a rampage at a Planned Parenthood office.
That same year, a man carrying a semiautomatic rifle fatally shot three people, apparently at random, on a residential street near downtown Colorado Springs. The gunman was fatally shot by police officers after he fired at them, authorities said at the time.
Gov. Jared Polis took to Twitter Sunday morning, calling the shooting ‘horrific, sickening and devastating.’
‘My heart breaks for the family and friends of those lost, injured and traumatized in this terrible shooting,’ the Colorado governor said, noting that he spoke with Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers ‘and clarified 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 LGBTQ community and everyone impacted by this tragedy as we mourn.’
US Representative-elect Eric Sorensen also expressed his support for the victims and call on Americans to ‘turn down hateful rhetoric aimed at our LGBTQ community.’
Mr Sorensen said: ‘Devastating news in Colorado Springs where 23 people were shot at an LGBTQ club overnight, according to Police. As we pray for those fighting for life, we must use loud voices to stand up against hate.’
Sen. John Hickenlooper, a Colorado Democrat, also called the shooting ‘an unspeakable act.’
He added: ‘We have to protect LGBTQ lives from this hate.’
And Rep. Lauren Boebert, a local Republican who is an outspoken supporter of gun rights, called the shooting ‘absolutely awful’ and said she was praying for the victims.
She added: ‘This lawless violence needs to end and end quickly.’
President Joe Biden also called for a renewed weapons ban on Twitter.
‘Jill and I are praying for the families of the five people killed in Colorado Springs, and for those injured in this senseless attack.
‘While no motive in this attack is yet clear, we know that gun violence has a particular impact on LGBTQI+ communities across our nation.
‘We must address the public health epidemic of gun violence in all forms,’ the president continued. ‘I signed the most significant gun safety law in nearly three decades, but we must do more.
‘And we must drive out the inequities that contribute to violence against LGBTQI+ people. We cannot tolerate hate.’
Meanwhile, in Illinois, House Majority Leader Greg Harris said: ‘Today is Trans Day of Remembrance, when we honor the memories of our murdered Trans siblings. Sadly we also grieve for people shot in an attack on an LGBT club in Colorado Springs last night.
‘Honor their memories by fighting back against hate and defending Trans rights.’
Democrat Stephen Heidt, who recently lost his bid for Idaho governor, echoed their claims, saying: ‘Our family is praying for all those affected by the Colorado Springs Shooting.
‘We have yet another gun crime, another hate crime. We must come together as a nation and stand against hate now. We are out of time.
And in New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul also released a statement, reading: ‘I am horrified by the shooting in Colorado Springs, and my heart breaks for the victims and their loved ones.
‘This senseless loss of life is yet another tragedy due to gun violence and hate, and I join all New Yorkers in praying for the people of Colorado.’
President of European Parliament Roberta Metsola also issued her condolences to the victims and their loved ones.
‘My heart breaks at another deadly attack targeting the #LGBTIQ community-this time at a club in #ColoradoSprings in the US,’ she tweeted.
‘It’s another reminder of our duty to lead the fight against hate and ensure everyone is free to love who they wish to love & live as they wish to live.’
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