A gunman shot up a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs with a semiautomatic rifle Saturday night, killing five and leaving another 25 injured before being subdued by a “heroic” patron, who held him down until police arrived minutes later.
The 22-year-old suspect, identified as Anderson Lee Aldrich, opened fire with an AR-15-style gun inside Club Q. Police also recovered a handgun and additional ammunition at the scene, according to the Associated Press.
While the victims have yet to be publicly identified, two Club Q bartenders were among the five victims killed Saturday night at the popular LGBTQ+ nightclub, according to a co-worker and social media pages.
The outlet cited an official close to the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Heroic Patron Subdues Gunman, Preventing “Exponentially More Tragedy” Mayor Says
Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers told the AP that the deadly attack only ended after a patron grabbed a gun from the suspect before hitting him with it and pinning him down until authorities arrived.
“Had that individual not intervened this could have been exponentially more tragic,” Suthers said.
The club is calling it a “hate attack” on its Facebook page, while investigators say they continue to determine an exact motive and whether or not to prosecute it as a hate crime, said El Paso County District Attorney Michael Allen.
However, charges against the suspect will likely include first-degree murder, he added. Aldrich remains in custody and was being treated for injuries, the AP reports.
Authorities say that seven of the 25 injured remain in critical condition, with many being injured as they tried to flee the chaotic scene. It’s still unclear whether all of the injured victims received gunshot wounds, according to a police spokesperson.
JUST IN 🚨 Reports of shooting with multiple people injured at "Club Q", a gay club in Colorado Springs pic.twitter.com/qGBQzVSXvu
— Insider Paper (@TheInsiderPaper) November 20, 2022
Authorities said Aldrich has a recent history of criminal and antisocial behavior. Just last year, he was arrested after his mother reported he threatened her with a homemade bomb and other weapons, however they declined to elaborate further on that arrest.
Suspect Was Arrested For Bomb Threat Last Year, But Charges Dropped, While More Info Emerges On Alleged Gunman
A three-hour standoff with SWAT teams ensued, however no explosives were ultimately found, authorities said at the time.
Meanwhile, The Gazette in Colorado Springs reported that prosecutors did not pursue any charges and that records have since been sealed.
More information about the alleged shooter has emerged in the wake of the tragic shooting.
Colorado LGBTQ Night Club shooter, Anderson Lee Aldrich, is the grandson of Randy Voepel, Republican Rep. representing the 71st District in San Diego. Randy was a supporter of the 1/6 insurrection. Another interesting note is the shooter was arrested in 2021. pic.twitter.com/EeAI9SZ4si
— 🇺🇸🏳️🌈Gregory Hatfield🏳️🌈🇺🇸 (@gregoryh325) November 21, 2022
Aldrich is reportedly the grandson to Republican San Diego Representative Randy Voepel, who was a supporter of the January 6, 2021 insurrection, per reports.
Attorney General Merrick Garland was briefed on the shooting and the FBI was assisting police with the investigation.
Club Had Operated For 21 Years Without Incident Prior To Sunday’s Deadly Attack
Meanwhile, the site of the horrific mass shooting Club Q, is a gay and lesbian nightclub that features a drag show on Saturdays, according to its website.
Club Q’s Facebook page said planned entertainment for the night in question included a “punk and alternative show” following a birthday dance party, alongside a all-ages drag brunch Sunday.
Officials noted the club had operated for 21 years and had not reported any threats prior to Saturday’s attack.
Michael Allen has a lot of nerve. He dropped all charges against Anderson Lee Aldrich in 6/2021 after his 3 hour standoff with a SWAT team during a bomb threat. Why? If Aldrich had been handled correctly, nobody woulda been shot at that bar this weekend. Allen is at fault. pic.twitter.com/QNdYX81Xv4
— Chris Kennedy (@Chris_Kennedy2) November 21, 2022
In order for Aldrich to be charged with a hate crime, prosecutors would have to prove he was motivated by the victims’ actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
Suspect Remains Uncooperative, Investigators Say… NYC Gay Bar Sees Three Windows Broke By Rocks
Thus far, he has reportedly remained uncooperative in interviews with investigators, and has yet to provide any real insight as to the motivation behind the attack, according to the official who spoke on to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.
On the same day as the nightclub attack, a gay bar in Hell’s Kitchen had its windows broken with a rock three times in a week’s span, ABC 7 reports.
Back in 2016, The Shade Room reported on the deadly Orlando gay night club shooting, which left 50 dead and another 50 wounded.