A patron at Club Q disarmed and hit a gunman with his own weapon shortly after shots erupted inside the nightclub late Saturday night, stopping the mass shooting and preventing further bloodshed, the mayor of Colorado Springs said.
Patrons then pinned the suspect to the ground until law enforcement arrived and arrested him.
“When police took him into custody,” Mayor John Suthers said Monday morning, “there was an individual laying on top of him and had totally disabled him from perpetrating any further harm.”
At least two patrons of the gay and lesbian nightclub subdued the suspect, who police say is 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, minutes after he entered Club Q with a long gun and a pistol, Suthers said.
Police received their first call about the shooting at just before 11:57 p.m. Saturday. The first officer arrived at midnight, and Aldrich was in custody two minutes later, Suthers said. In those brief moments between when he entered the club and was charged by patrons, Aldrich is accused of killing five people and wounding at least 25 more.
Suthers said he believes that Aldrich, who was hospitalized after his arrest, is still being treated at an area hospital. Asked why the suspect was hospitalized, Suthers said it would “not be illogical to conclude” that Aldrich was injured by the patrons who subdued him and hit him with his own weapon.
Colorado Springs police Chief Adrian Vasquez called Suthers shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday, the mayor said. At that point, first responders already had cleared the building of victims, according to archived police radio traffic.
Before his wife handed him the phone, Suthers knew the call would be grim.
“Based on my life as a prosecutor and mayor, but primarily as a prosecutor, calls in the middle of the night are never good,” Suthers said. “Every once in a while maybe a baby’s born or something like that, but typically, they’re never good.”
Police are still investigating what type of weapons the suspect used, Suthers said, and he said only that one was a handgun and the other was a long rifle. Ballistic tests will be conducted to determine whether the rifle was automatic or semiautomatic, he said. He had heard that the suspect wore a vest but said that, too, must still be confirmed by police.
He said the shooting — which took place at a gay club minutes before Sunday, the Transgender Day of Remembrance, began — “has the trappings of a hate crime,” given “where it occurred, how it occurred.” He said Aldrich lives in Colorado Springs with his mother.
Aldrich was arrested on suspicion of 10 felonies, including first-degree murder and hate crime charges. He has not yet been formally charged.
“But I think we have to wait for the police investigation,” he said. “Looking to see if there’s anything on social media, (police) did search warrant of his house, talking to people who knew this guy or have had contact with him, and hopefully that will shed light on precisely what his motivation was.”
A man of the same name and age as Aldrich was arrested in Colorado Springs in June 2021 on multiple felony counts for allegedly making bomb threats to his mother. Local officials have thus far refused to comment on that case, which local media reports indicate was sealed without charges being filed.
Suthers said he was prohibited by Colorado law from commenting on it because it had been sealed. But he said the district attorney can unseal the records, and he said he expected the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office to take that step.
The mayor said he’d spoken briefly with the co-owners of Club Q, which has been described as a hub of the LGBT community in Colorado Springs, and that he now finds himself in the same position so many other American mayors have found themselves in: rallying a city devastated by sudden, horrific violence.
“You just have to make sure and try and tell the world that the actions of one lone gunman, a 22-year-old male, don’t reflect the feelings of a city of 500,000 people,” he said, “and we can’t let it define us.”
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