Police on Sunday identified 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich as the suspect in a shooting at an LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs late Saturday that left five people dead and at least 18 injured, an incident law enforcement is investigating as a possible hate crime.
Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said Sunday the suspect entered the nightclub and immediately fired shots from a long rifle before “at least two heroic people” confronted him and stopped him from hurting others.
Police were called to Club Q, described by Vasquez as “a safe haven” for the LGBTQ community, at 11:56 p.m. Saturday, and Aldrich was taken into custody approximately six minutes later, police said, noting two firearms were found at the scene.
Police have not released any information on a suspected motive, but the shooting is being investigated under the “lens” of a hate crime, 4th Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen said, though he didn’t specify whether the suspect will be charged under Colorado’s hate crimes statute.
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office arrested someone with the same name and age as Aldrich last year, after the man’s mother allegedly said he was threatening her with a “homemade bomb, multiple weapons and ammunition,” according to a June 2021 statement from the sheriff’s office.
Club Q said it is “devastated by the senseless attack on our community,” in a statement posted to its Facebook page that thanked the “quick reactions of heroic customers that subdued the gunman and ended this hate attack.”
While police are still investigating the motive, the shooting in Colorado Springs evoked memories of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando in 2016, when Omar Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in the second deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. Club Q was preparing to mark Transgender Day of Remembrance, which recognizes victims of anti-transgender violence, on Sunday with an “all ages drag brunch,” according to its Facebook page. Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), called the shooting an “unspeakable attack” and a “horrific tragedy” in a tweet on Sunday, saying the incident “has robbed countless people of their friends and family and an entire community’s sense of safety.” In a statement, President Joe Biden called for more to be done to “drive out the inequities that contribute to violence against LGBTQI+ people,” adding, “we cannot and must not tolerate hate.”
At Least 5 Killed in Shooting at Colorado L.G.B.T.Q. Nightclub: Live Updates (The New York Times)
Police: Gunman kills 5 at gay nightclub, subdued by patrons (The Associated Press)