COLORADO SPRINGS (KXRM) — An attacker opened fire in a gay nightclub late Saturday, killing five people and wounding 25, officials said. The club said the suspect was subdued by patrons.
Police identified the gunman as Anderson Lee Aldrich, who was in custody and being treated for injuries. A man with the same name and age was arrested in 2021 after his mother reported he threatened her with “a homemade bomb, multiple weapons and ammunition,” according to authorities.
Police did not confirm whether it was the same person, saying they were investigating whether the suspect had been arrested before.
Authorities received a report of a shooting at Club Q at 11:57 p.m. and responded within minutes, said Lt. Pamela Castro of the Colorado Springs Police Department.
The 22-year-old gunman walked into the club and immediately began firing from a “long rifle,” police said. Two firearms were found at the scene.
The gunman was taken into custody around five minutes after police first received a call about the shooting at Club Q.
“At least two heroic people” confronted the gunman and stopped the shooting, Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said, adding: “We owe them a great debt of thanks.”
As of Sunday afternoon, authorities have updated the number of people injured from 18 to 25. Of those injured, some were in critical condition and at least two had been treated and released, officials said, adding that some were hurt trying to flee.
Club Q is a gay and lesbian nightclub that features a “Drag Diva Drag Show” on Saturdays, according to its website. In addition to the drag show, Club Q’s Facebook page said planned entertainment included a “punk and alternative show” preceding a birthday dance party, with a Sunday “all ages brunch.”
The latest incident occurred as anti-gay rhetoric has intensified by extremists. In a statement, Club Q termed the shooting a hate attack.
“Club Q is devastated by the senseless attack on our community,” the business said. “We thank the quick reactions of heroic customers that subdued the gunman and ended this hate attack.”
Colorado Springs is a city of about 480,000 located about 70 miles (112 kilometers) south of Denver that is home to the U.S. Air Force Academy, as well as Focus on the Family, a prominent evangelical Christian ministry.
A spokesperson for the Colorado Springs Fire department (CSFD) said that 34 firefighters were called and 11 ambulances, some of which had to transport two or three victims at once.
“Unfortunately these are events we do train for, as far as what we call a ‘mass casualty,’ so that is why we had such a big response,” said Capt. Mike Smaldino, with the Colorado Springs Fire Department. “Working with the police, we were able to get everybody transported out of here in a pretty quick manner and get them to the hospital, where they have a better chance for their injuries.”
Police are asking anyone with cell phone or dashcam video of the shooting to please contact CSPD at (719) 444-7000. Police also ask that any additional witnesses, that were not interviewed by an officer to also contact the department.
The motive behind Saturday’s shooting was not immediately known but it brought back memories of the 2016 massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that killed 49 people. And it occurred in a state that has experienced several notorious mass killings, including at Columbine High School in 1999, a movie theater in suburban Denver in 2012 and at a Boulder supermarket last year.
Investigators are still determining whether to prosecute Saturday’s incident as a hate crime. Charges against the suspect “will likely include first-degree murder,” said El Paso County District Attorney Michael Allen.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.