People react after a mass shooting at the Club Q gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, U.S., November 20, 2022.
A gunman opened fire inside a LGBTQ nightspot in Colorado Springs late on Saturday, killing at least five people and injuring 25 others before being stopped by “heroic” clubgoers, police said.
Authorities on Sunday said they were investigating whether the attack was motivated by hate.
Police identified the suspect as Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, and said he used a “long rifle.” He was taken into police custody shortly after the shooting began and was being treated for injuries, according to officials.
The shooting was reminiscent of the 2016 Pulse club massacre when a gunman killed 49 people at the gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, before he was fatally shot by police.
It unfolded as LGBTQ communities and allies around the world prepared to mark the Transgender Day of Remembrance on Sunday, an annual observance to honor victims of transphobic violence.
Club Q, a long-standing venue in a modest strip mall, was described by many as a safe haven for the LGBTQ community in Colorado’s second-largest city.
Police said the initial phone call about the shooting came in just before midnight, and that the suspect was apprehended within minutes thanks to the quick action of law enforcement and the bravery of at least two patrons who intervened.
The shooter burst in with a rifle, a military-style flak jacket and what appeared to be six magazines of ammunition, the New York Times reported, citing the club owners, who said they did not know the man.
Multiple firearms were found at the venue, including the rifle, Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez told a news conference on Sunday.
One patron, Joshua Thurman, choked up as he told reporters that he was dancing in the club when he first heard gunshots. He sought refuge in a dressing room and locked himself inside with others, praying for his life and thinking about loved ones.
“We heard everything,” Thurman said. “We heard more shots fired. We heard the assailant being beat up by someone that I assumed that tackled him. We heard the police come in. We heard them yelling at him. We heard them saying, ‘Take certain people because they’re critical.'”
Several of the injured were in critical condition and being treated at local hospitals, authorities said.