Approximately ten minutes before Midnight on Nov. 19, 2022, 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich allegedly opened fire inside Club Q, a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, CO. At 11:56 PM, the Colorado Springs Police received a 911 call, and within six minutes, Aldrich had been subdued and taken into custody.
Richard M. Fierro, a retired Army Major, worked with Thomas James to restrain the gunman shortly after the second round of shots could be heard within the club. Before police arrived at the scene, five people were killed and 17 were injured. Of the 17 injured, seven were hospitalized and have since been released from medical care.
The five victims consisted of two bartenders and three club attendees – Ashley Paugh, Kelly Loving and Raymond Green Vance. Vance was the boyfriend of Fierro’s daughter who was at Club Q to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Daniel Davis Aston and Derrick Rump were bartenders working the night of the shooting.
In the wake of this tragedy, many people online are comparing this event to the Pulse Nightclub shooting that occurred in 2016 in Orlando FL. Club Q, like Pulse, was a center for queer community in Colorado Springs. The community is currently handling the loss of these five people as well as an important space that provided safety and belonging for LGBTQ+ people.
“Mass shootings like this show that it is okay to shoot people because you don’t like them,” said Emma Adams (25’), DEI Chair for Phi Sigma Sigma. “I think most queer folk always have a sense of fear that they will not be accepted or that they will fall victim to hate crimes just for being who they are. Events like this just increase that fear,” said Adams.
“Anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and laws embolden hateful people to do hateful things,” said Kia Blysniuk (24’), Diversity and Inclusion Chair for Kappa Iota. Many connections are being drawn between hate crimes like these and the rise of anti-queer rhetoric across the United States. “I believe this sort of thing sets a precedent for similarly hateful people to do similar things.” said Blysniuk.
“I heard about it the way I think most people hear news these days, through social media. I think in this specific instance it was an out of context TikTok I looked further into,” said Blysniuk.
Many folks learned of the shooting through social media and through TikTok, then researched news articles from there.
“I first heard about the shooting at Club Q immediately after worship that Sunday morning. I saw it on social media and immediately looked up news articles to see what was happening,” said Rev. Katrina Pekich-Bundy, Associate Protestant Chaplain at Alma College.
“Violence in our country has become too frequent and that violence affects BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities the most,” said Rev. Pekich-Bundy. Learning about this shooting was heartbreaking for many, but violence against queer folks and people of color has so heavily normalized that people are not shocked to hear of hate crimes like this. “I was saddened, angry, and upset by the shooting, but unfortunately not surprised because these acts of senseless violence happen too often,” said Rev. Pekich-Bundy.
“I will say I am infuriated that there are still so many mass shootings in the United States and that the number keeps going up,” said Adams. Queer folks across the country have been affected by news of this shooting, many dealing with the burden of handling news of another shooting.
“The way that this sort of thing has become the norm, media barely even covers shootings anymore. Real action has to be taken,” said Blysniuk.