The motive behind a mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is under investigation as a suspect is arrested on bias-driven criminal charges and survivors face shock and grief after a weekend attack that left five dead and 17 injured.
The suspect, 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, remained in the hospital on Monday after police say he was attacked and subdued by two people at Club Q – known as a safe haven of the LGBTQ community – has become another crime scene in a country where many people have. shootings have occurred this year at a rate of nearly twice a day.
Aldrich faces five counts of first-degree murder and five counts of felony aggravated assault causing bodily harm, according to the online docket in El Paso County courts.
Hate crimes in Colorado are called “bias-motivated crimes,” said Michael Allen, El Paso County’s district attorney.
“It is important that if we have enough evidence to support bias-motivated crimes, we prosecute that. It’s important to this community,” Allen said.
Legal charges have not yet been filed, and those in the docket are preliminary and subject to change, he said.
The docket does not indicate whether Aldrich has an attorney. After he is transferred from the medical facility to jail, Aldrich will make his first video appearance, Allen said.
Authorities identified the victims as Daniel Aston, Raymond Green Vance, Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh and Derrick Rump.
Two people inside the nightclub, Richard Fierro and Thomas James, subdued the attacker before officers arrived seconds after the shooting began, police said.
Fierro, a former Army general who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, told CNN that the violence and trauma experienced during the shooting resembled that of a war zone.
“My daughter and my wife should not have had a fight in Colorado Springs. And everybody in that building had a fight that night, not by choice, but because they forced,” Fierro said through tears. “It’s a lot for anybody.”
Fierro was at the nightclub celebrating a birthday with his wife and daughter. Her daughter’s boyfriend, Vance, was also there and was killed.
“I’m not a hero. He’s just a guy who wanted to protect his kids and his wife, and I still couldn’t protect his boyfriend,” Fierro said.
Barrett Hudson was also in the group that night and was shot seven times as he tried to run away from the gunmen.
“I ran to the back and was shot. I knew I had been shot several times. I fell to the ground. He continued to shoot me. I got up. I came out from behind the group, “Hudson told CNN.
After taking his first steps since Monday’s shooting, he said he can’t believe he survived.
Seven bullets missed my back, missed my liver, missed my gut. Hudson said. “I was very lucky.”
He added: “I didn’t expect that I would be able to. I certainly didn’t expect to leave as soon as I left.”
The attack marks the worst mass shooting in the United States, and is now one of the most high-profile incidents in Colorado, including the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School. Last year in Colorado Springs, a mass shooting at a birthday party left six dead.
So far this year, the US has reported at least 605 mass shootings, according to the Gun Violence Archive, as CNN reports incidents in which four or more people were killed or injured, not involving a gunman.
As authorities continue their investigation into the shooting, many are focused on mourning the loss of life.
Daniel Aston, 28, was the bar manager at Club Q, according to friend and bartender Michael Anderson.
He was the best manager anyone could ask for. “He made me want to come to work, and he made me want to be a part of the great culture that we were trying to create there,” Anderson said.
Aston moved to Colorado Springs two years ago to be closer to his mother and father, his parents Jeff and Sabrina Aston told The Denver Post.
When Aston was four, he told his mother he was a boy, and ten years later, he came out as transgender, his mother told the newspaper. He felt embarrassed, but he wasn’t, he said.
“He had a lot of life to give us, and all his friends with him,” he told the newspaper.
The victim’s sister Kelly Loving released a statement on Monday, expressing her support for all those who lost a loved one in the shooting.
“My condolences go out to all the families who lost someone in this tragic event, and to all those who are fighting to be accepted in this world. My sister was a good person. He was loving and caring and sweet. Everyone loved him. Kelly was a wonderful person,” Tiffany Loving said in a statement to CNN.
Ashley Pugh’s family say they are devastated by her loss and that her daughter Ryleigh “was her whole world.”
“He meant everything to this family, and we can’t even fathom what it will mean to not have him in our lives,” the family said in a statement.
Pugh worked at the nonprofit Kids Crossing, which aims to help foster children find homes, according to the statement. He was also involved in helping the LGBTQ community find welcoming places for children.
Derrick Rump was a bartender at Club Q. The place served as a place where he “found a community of people he really liked, and felt he could shine there – and he did ,” his sister, Julia Kissling, told CNN. affiliated with WFMZ.
He said: “He made a difference in the lives of many people, and that’s where he wanted to be.
Tiara Kelley, who played in the band the night before the shooting, told CNN that Rump and her colleague, Aston, were polar opposites in many ways, but they worked well together.
“They were just amazing, and every bar should have Daniel and Derrick,” Kelley said.
Raymond Green Vance, 22, had just gotten a job at a Colorado Springs FedEx distribution center and was “excited to get his first paycheck,” his family said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, he did not leave the group. Raymond was the victim of a man who terrorized innocent people and family and friends,” read the statement.
His family and friends are deeply saddened by the sudden loss of a son, grandson, brother, nephew and cousin loved by so many.”
Vance was “a great, kind, selfless young man with his whole life ahead of him. “His best friend describes him as gifted, personable, and willing to do everything in his power to help anyone,” his family said.
Aldrich has not made a statement to law enforcement, police said.
“I’ve never heard that he’s uncooperative, just that he’s determined not to talk to investigators,” Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez told CNN Monday.
The suspect had a long gun at the time of the attack, and two handguns were found at the scene, Vasquez said.
Two law enforcement sources told CNN reports that Aldrich purchased the two weapons used in the attack, an AR-style rifle and a handgun.
Before Saturday’s shooting, the suspect was arrested in June 2021 in connection with a bomb threat that caused a disturbance at his mother’s home, according to a news release from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office at the time who is also his mother’s former landlord.
Two law enforcement sources confirmed the suspect in Saturday’s shooting and bomb threat was the same person based on his name and date of birth.
Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report by the man’s mother that he was “threatening to harm her with a homemade bomb, multiple weapons and firearms,” according to the release. Deputies called out to the suspect, and he “refused to comply with commands to surrender,” the release said, prompting them to leave nearby homes.
A few hours after the first call to police, the sheriff’s crisis communications unit was able to get Aldrich out of the house, and he was arrested. Authorities at the time did not find any explosives in the home.
CNN’s efforts to reach Aldrich’s mother for comment were unsuccessful.
Two law enforcement sources who said the suspect bought the guns also told CNN his arrest for the bomb threat would not have come up in background checks because the case there was no conviction, the charges were dropped, and the records were sealed. It is not clear what led to the confirmation of the reports, they said.