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Club Q shooting: what we know about the Colorado attack

A 22-year-old gunman opened fire in a gay club in Colorado on Saturday night, killing five people

On Saturday, a gunman opened fire in a LGBTQ+ club in Colorado Springs. He killed five people – including two bartenders, Daniel Davis Aston and Derrick Rump – and injured at least 25 others. The suspected shooter is currently in police custody.

The attack follows a rise in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and surging numbers of hate crimes across the nation.

Here’s everything we know about the shooting so far, and why hate crimes like these are on the rise.

WHAT HAPPENED

Just before midnight on Saturday, a 22-year-old gunman entered Club Q, an LGBTQ+ venue in Colorado Springs, and opened fire, killing five people and injuring 25 others.

Two people managed to confront and fight the attacker, successfully preventing any further violence. According to NPR, one disarmed Aldrich and beat him with his own gun. In a statement on social media, Club Q said it was “devastated by the senseless attack on our community” and thanked “the quick reactions of heroic customers that subdued the gunman and ended this hate attack.”

Governor Jared Polis has ordered that flags on all public buildings in the state should be lowered to half-mast from Monday to Saturday to honour the lives of the victims – five days to remember the five individuals who lost their lives. The Pride flag will also be flying at the Colorado state capitol for the next five days.

The club had planned to hold a drag brunch and a drag show on Sunday, to tie in with the Transgender Day of Remembrance. The club is now closed until further notice.

WHO IS THE SUSPECT? 

The suspect has been identified as Anderson Lee Aldrich.

Aldrich is the grandson of outgoing Republican State Assemblymember Randy Voepel, the former mayor of Santee, California. Voepel is a controversial figure and faced calls for his expulsion from the state Assembly after he made comments defending the January 6 attacks on the Capitol. Aldrich’s mother, Laura Voepel, has written posts praising her father on Facebook.

Harrowingly, Aldrich had been brought to the attention of law enforcement before. He was arrested in 2021 after his mother reported to police that he was threatening to harm her with a homemade bomb and weapons. After a standoff with officers, he was arrested and charged with five felonies – but records show he was never prosecuted.

The shooting could have been prevented if authorities enforced Colorado’s “red flag” law, which permits the temporary removal of firearms from a person who they believe may present a danger to others or themselves.

Officers managed to detain Aldrich minutes after he began his attack, and according to police he is currently in custody.

WHY ARE HOMOPHOBIC AND TRANSPHOBIC HATE CRIMES ON THE RISE?

Authorities said the Colorado Springs active shooting is being investigated through the “lens” of a hate crime, but that has not been definitively determined. Club Q also referred to the incident as a “hate attack” on their website.

Hate crimes are on the rise in the US, in tandem with a marked uptick in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric. Nearly 1 in 5 of any type of hate crime is now motivated by anti-LGBTQ+ bias.

 More than 320 anti-LGBTQ bills (such as the Don’t Say Gay bill) have been introduced in state legislatures in the US this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Conservative lawmakers and other public figures have accused opponents of such regressive and homophobic legislation of trying to “groom” children.

With perpetrators emboldened by growing numbers of public figures espousing homophobic views, 2022 has seen a number of violent and hateful crimes against the LGBTQ+ community. In February, a party for the Black queer community in Brooklyn was interrupted by a pepper-spray bomb. White nationalists targeted a Pride event in Idaho in summer and were arrested with conspiracy to riot. In October, a gay bar in New York City was set on fire by an arsonist.

32 transgender and gender non-conforming people have been killed in the US in 2022 alone. Disturbingly, the true number of deaths is likely higher, as police or media may not properly identify all victims as trans or gender non-conforming.

Human Rights Campaign Incoming President Kelley Robinson released the following statement in the wake of the attack. “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,” she said. “We are also observing Transgender Day of Remembrance today and over the last ten 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.”

The Colorado Healing Fund has been activated in response to the Club Q tragedy. Donations go directly to victims and their families. You can donate here.