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5 killed, 25 hurt in shooting at LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Five people were killed and at least 25 others were injured late Saturday after a mass shooting at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado, authorities said.

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The shooting occurred at about 11:57 p.m. MST at Club Q, a nightclub in Colorado Springs, KDVR-TV reported. Police responded within four minutes and had the suspect in custody moments later.

Update 10 p.m. EST Nov. 20: Law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that the Club Q shooting suspect Anderson Lee Aldrich used an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle. A handgun and magazines were also recovered.

Update 5:47 p.m. EST Nov. 20: Investigators were still determining a motive and whether to prosecute it as a hate crime, El Paso County District Attorney Michael Allen said during a news conference on Sunday. Charges against the suspect “will likely include first-degree murder,” Allen added, according to KUSA-TV.

According to The Denver Post, a man named Anderson Lee Aldrich, of the same age was arrested on suspicion of multiple felonies in June 2021. That person allegedly threatened his mother with a bomb and other weapons, according to the newspaper.

Colorado Springs officials during Sunday’s news conference would not comment about on the 2021 incident or whether they believed the same man was responsible for the shooting, the Post reported.

Officials have not named the victims of the shooting, but friends identified one of the people killed as Daniel Aston, who worked as a bartender at the club, according to the newspaper.

Update 2:40 p.m. EST Nov. 20: During a midday update, the Colorado Springs Police Department, raising the number of injured people to 25, according to The Denver Post and KDVR-TV. The death toll remains at five.

According to KUSA-TV, the FBI said that it will “review all the available facts of the incident to determine what federal response is warranted. The FBI is providing assistance to the Colorado Springs Police Department.”

Update 12:54 p.m. EST Nov. 20: In a statement, President Joe Biden said that gun violence “continues to have a devastating and particular impact on LGBTQI+ communities across our nation.”

“Places that are supposed to be safe spaces of acceptance and celebration should never be turned into places of terror and violence,” Biden said. “Yet it happens far too often. We must drive out the inequities that contribute to violence against LGBTQI+ people. We cannot and must not tolerate hate.”

Update 10:32 a.m. EST Nov. 20: Colorado Springs police Chief Adrian Vasquez said during a Sunday morning news conference that two weapons, including a “long rifle,” were found at the scene. He added that the shooter immediately began firing the weapon as he entered the nightclub.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said the news was “sickening.”

“My heart breaks for the family and friends of those lost, injured and traumatized in this horrific shooting. I have spoken with Mayor (John) Suthers and clarified that every state resource is available to local law enforcement in Colorado Springs,” Polis, who was elected as the nation’s first openly gay governor in 2018, said in a statement. “Colorado stands with our LGTBQ community and everyone impacted by this tragedy as we mourn.”

Update 10:18 a.m. EST Nov. 20: During a Sunday morning news conference, police identified the suspected shooter as Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22.

Colorado Springs police Chief Adrian Vasquez said that when the suspect entered Club Q, he was confronted by at least two “heroic” patrons who stopped the shooter.

“We owe them a great debt of thanks,” Vasquez told reporters.

Colorado Springs police Chief Adrian Vasquez said during a news conference that two weapons, including a “long rifle,” were found at the scene. He added that the shooter immediately began firing the weapon when he entered the nightclub.

“Colorado Springs is once again in mourning,” Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said during the news conference. “This is a horrible crime.”

Lt. Pamela Castro, a spokesperson with the Colorado Springs Police Department, said during the news conference that the extent of the victims’ injuries was unknown. The 18 people injured did not include the suspected shooter, who was also injured.

Original report: Lt. Pamela Castro, a spokesperson with the Colorado Springs Police Department, said officers detained a person they believed to be a suspect, according to KRDO-TV. The suspect was also injured in the shooting and was being treated at an area hospital, Castro said.

The victims were taken to hospitals around the city, according to KUSA-TV.

In a statement on its Facebook page, Club Q said it was “devastated by the senseless attack on our community.”

A motive behind the shooting is unclear. The police department tweeted that it planned an 8 a.m. MST news conference at its operations center.

A spokesperson for the Colorado Springs Fire department said that 34 firefighters were called, along with 11 ambulances, KDVR reported.

“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,” Capt. Mike Smaldino, a spokesperson for the fire department, told the television station. “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.”

Club Q features a “Drag Diva Drag Show” on Saturdays, according to its website.

The shooting rekindled memories of the 2016 mass shooting that killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

Colorado has been the site of several mass shootings, including the 1999 killings at Columbine High School, a movie theater in a Denver suburb in 2012 and a Boulder supermarket last year, the AP reported.

In November 2015, three people were killed and eight others were wounded at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. Authorities said a man opened fire because he wanted to wage “war” on the clinic because it performed abortions, the news organization reported.

There have been 523 mass killings since 2006 resulting in 2,727 deaths as of Saturday, according to The Associated Press/USA Today database on mass killings in the U.S.

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