Colorado Springs police spokeswoman Lt. Pamela Castro said in an early Sunday morning press conference that police received calls about an active shooting at Club Q at 11:57 p.m. local time. Upon arriving at the scene, officers immediately located the suspect — who the club said was “subdued” by customers — and transported them to a nearby hospital with unspecified injuries.
“The suspect entered Club Q and immediately began shooting at people inside as he moved further into the club,” Colorado Springs Deputy Chief Adrian Vasquez said at a Sunday morning press conference. “While the suspect was inside the club, at least two heroic people inside the club confronted and fought with the subject, and were able to stop the subject from continuing to kill and harm others. We owe them a great debt of thanks.”
“At this point in time, the suspect is being treated, but is in custody,” Castro said. The suspect was later identified as 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich. Two firearms were recovered at the scene, including a “long rifle.”
The victims were not yet identified as police were still notifying the deceased’s families.
“Club Q is devastated by the senseless attack on our community,” the nightclub wrote in a statement on Facebook. “Our [prayers] 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.”
“This is horrific, sickening and devastating,” Colorado Governor Jared Polis wrote of the mass shooting on Twitter. “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 LGBQT community and everyone impacted by this tragedy as we mourn.”
On its website, Club Q advertised a “Drag Diva Drag Show” on Saturdays. The club added that they will remain “closed until further notice.” Angelo Patino, who performed at the drag show at the Club Q Saturday night and left the venue 30 minutes before the shooting, told the New York Times, “I am in shock. It was my safe space. It hurts me that I could not protect my friends when they needed it.”
At a Sunday morning press conference, Castro said, “With [the investigation] being so early, we can’t label it [a hate crime] yet.” Police also wouldn’t confirm whether the suspect is the same person who was involved in a 2021 bomb threat that resulted in an arrest and charges of felony menacing and first-degree kidnapping.
In that incident, the Colorado Springs Gazette reports that, after no bomb was found, prosecutors did not pursue any charges and that records were sealed, and a man claiming to be Aldrich himself left a voicemail with the newspaper asking that their initial reporting be removed or updated.
A woman who was renting a spare room to Aldrich’s mother during the 2021 bomb scare told the New York Times Sunday, “Why is he not in jail, after that happening? After that initial day, police never reached out to me for additional information. I’m a Second Amendment supporter, don’t get me wrong. But for him to be out there, and have access to weapons after that incident, I don’t understand it.” (Police have not yet confirmed that the suspect in the Club Q mass shooting and the Aldrich in the 2021 bomb scare are the same person.)
Of the 25 injuries, a representative for a hospital that received seven patients said two victims remain in “critical care,” while five suffered “extremities injuries,” some of whom have already been released. The representative of another hospital that received 10 patients said some of those victims remain in the ICU, but wouldn’t specify how many or the severity of the injuries due to HIPAA laws. Not all of the 25 injuries were the result of gunshots, Castro said, adding that some were injured fleeing Club Q.
Castro provided a timeline of the tragedy, with dispatchers first receiving a call about an “active shooting” at 11:57 p.m. The first officer on the scene arrived three minutes later at midnight, and by 12:02 a.m., the suspect was detained.
The FBI is also on the scene and “providing assistance” to the Colorado Springs Police Department. While the mass shooting will be investigated as a “bias-related crime,” authorities noted that the Class-1 felonies that the suspect faces as a result of the killings are more severe by Colorado statutes.
President Joe Biden tweeted Sunday, “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. 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.”
“I’m devastated to hear about the shooting in Colorado Springs that cut five more lives tragically short. I’m thinking of their families and loved ones, and sending strength to those who were injured, the survivors, and Colorado’s LGBTQ community,” Senator Michael Bennett of Colorado tweeted. “As we seek justice for this unimaginable act, we must do more to protect the LGBTQ community and stand firm against discrimination and hate in every form.”
The Colorado Springs attack comes six years after the mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse gay nightclub where 49 people were killed, and is the latest in a string of anti-gay attacks on the LGBTQ+ community. Colorado has also witnessed the Columbine high school shooting in 1999, the Aurora movie theater shooting in 2012 that killed 12 people and, last year, a mass shooting at a Boulder supermarket that killed 10 people.
Sunday, Nov. 20 marks the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, which “honors the memory of the transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence,” GLAAD said.
The Human Rights Campaign said Sunday that one in five hate crimes is “now motivated by anti-LGBTQ+ bias,” citing recent incidents including an Idaho Pride parade that was invaded by white nationalists and the Proud Boys crashing a drag queen story hour at a California library.
“We are absolutely heartbroken by last night’s deadly shooting at an LGBTQ+ club in Colorado Springs. We know anti-LGBTQ+ hate is on the rise and gun violence impacts our community at devastating rates,” HRC incoming president Kelley Robinson said in a statement.
“We are also observing Transgender Day of Remembrance today and over the last 10 years two-thirds of the more than 300 fatalities we’ve tracked involved gun violence. We must rise against hate in the strongest possible terms, we must stand together in solidarity and love with our LGBTQ+ family in Colorado Springs and demand an end to this epidemic of gun violence. From Pulse to Colorado Springs to so many other lives stolen from us— this has occurred for far too long. HRC mourns the lives taken at Club Q last night and extends our deepest strength, love and condolences to the loved ones impacted.”
Following the tragedy, GoFundMe shared three verified fundraisers – Support for the Club Q Families and Survivors, Victims of Club Q Colorado Springs Mass Shooting and Classroom of Compassion in Colorado Springs, CO – to raise funds for medical or funeral expenses for the victims and families and creating public altars for the victims.
This story was updated Nov. 20 at 10:45 am EST with quotes from the additional details, the suspect’s name and quotes from Sunday morning press conference. This story was updated at 2:45 p.m. with President Joe Biden’s statement, the GoFundMe information and police’s updated number of injured (25).