A man entered the LGBTQ nightclub Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado, just minutes before midnight on Saturday and “immediately” began shooting before patrons bravely intervened to subdue him, police said at a Sunday morning press conference. Five people were killed and at least 18 people were injured. It was the 601st mass shooting in America this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
FBI agents are already on scene, as is the U.S. Attorney for Colorado, Cole Finegan, who appeared at Sunday morning’s press conference promising “the person who did this” will be “brought to justice.”
District Attorney Michael Allen identified the suspect as Anderson Lee Aldrich, who is hospitalized but in custody, CNN reports. A police spokesperson reported the first 911 call came in at 11:56 PM local time, and within minutes police were on the scene at Club Q, and handcuffed the suspect within two minutes of arriving.
Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said they have not yet determined if the attack on the LGBTQ club was a hate crime, but did say two guns, including a long gun, were found on the scene.
An FBI agent said the mass shooting was being investigated through the “lens” of a possible hate crime.
Club Q was to host a drag queen Sunday brunch and observe Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is today. TDOR honors and memorializes transgender people who have been murdered in transphobic attacks.
“Let’s prep for a fantastic Sunday Funday!” the Club wrote on its Facebook page. Sunday evening the club was to have “an all stars cast of our freshest faces!” and said, “We’re celebrating Transgender Day of Remembrance with a variety of gender identities and performance styles!”
After the attack, on their Facebook page Club Q wrote they are “devastated by the senseless attack on our community. Our prays and thoughts are with all the victims and their families and friends. We thank the quick reactions of heroic customers that subdued the gunman and ended this hate attack.”
Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who is currently in COVID quarantine issued a statement saying, “The Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs was horrific, sickening, and devastating news to wake up to. My heart breaks for the family and friends of those lost, injured, and traumatized in this horrific shooting. I have spoken with Mayor 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 LGTBQ Community and everyone impacted by this tragedy as we mourn.”
Researcher and political scientist Jay Ulfelder noted Sunday, “Since early 2021, the right has increasingly mobilized against the queer community, with drag shows being a particular focal point.”
Breaking my self-imposed Twitter silence to offer some context for last night’s mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs. Since early 2021, the right has increasingly mobilized against the queer community, with drag shows being a particular focal point. https://t.co/D16Js24co4 pic.twitter.com/8to96lD4CT
— Jay Ulfelder (@JayUlfelder) November 20, 2022
Just hours after the mass shooting the anti-LGBTQ right-wing extremist social media account Libs of TikTok tweeted a post about a Colorado Springs organization that it says “teaches kids how to become drag queens and helps kids ‘safely experience the art of drag on stage.’”
In June the Twitter account of Libs of TikTok was temporarily “locked” over a thread attacking drag shows that allow children, claiming they “sexualize children.”
In August NPR reported that Libs of TikTok has “gained prominence and influence in right-wing circles over the last year as conservatives increasingly try to use anti-LGBTQ sentiment to gain support.”
Democratic lawmakers across the country and other public figures are speaking out and offering condolences in the wake of the mass shooting.
Sickened and horrified by the shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs.
The LGBTQ+ community is once again the target of the most terrible violence.
And devastating attacks like these will only become more common if we don’t fight back.
It must stop.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) November 20, 2022
Horrendous to hear about the shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs. An unspeakable act. We have to protect LGBTQ lives from this hate.
— Senator John Hickenlooper (@SenatorHick) November 20, 2022
Horrible & horrific shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs. My heart breaks for the victims, their loved ones, & the LGBTQ+ community. This hate-fueled, tragic gun violence destroys lives & shakes communities to their core. We must do more to combat this scourge. https://t.co/TZHY1MsNpn
— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) November 20, 2022
I’m horrified by the news of last night’s shooting in Colorado Springs. On Transgender Day of Remembrance, I mourn the victims and send love to the Club Q community. We must confront hate and bigotry in all its forms and act to end our country’s shameful epidemic of gun violence.
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) November 20, 2022
Devastated to hear about the horrific shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs.
Today, on #TransDayofRemembrance, my prayers are with the family & friends of the victims and the entire LGBTQ+ community. We must condemn hate in all its forms.
— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) November 20, 2022
Waking up to news about another mass shooting — this time in my hometown of Colorado Springs. Club Q is a place of refuge for so many, including myself. I am both devastated and infuriated.
I will be there to support any of our Colorado Springs family in any way they need. https://t.co/nKTE0jUJwV
— Leslie Herod (@leslieherod) November 20, 2022
I’m devastated to learn of the gun murders at Club Q in Colorado Springs.
How sick are we of killing after killing after killing with guns in this country?! We must fight both ingredients of the toxic mix of gun violence and hatred of queer people. https://t.co/8olnQDIrKi
— Rep. Andy Levin (@RepAndyLevin) November 20, 2022