Anderson Lee Aldrich, who opened fire on Saturday night at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado, has been arrested this Monday and charged with the murder of five people. The main suspect in the latest US mass shooting will also face five counts of hate crimes, which could carry a stiffer penalty if convicted. The victims of the attack on the Club Q bar have been identified by the authorities this Monday. These were Kelly Loving, Daniel Aston, Derrick Rump, Ashley Paugh and Raymond Green Vance, 22, who visited the entertainment site for the first time with his girlfriend. Also named is the hero of the story, Richard Fierro, who fought the shooter. The incident also left 18 people injured. One of these, Barrett Hudson, received seven bullets, but none damaged vital organs.
The district attorney has revealed to the local press that he does not rule out that new accusations are added when they take the case to court. Colorado law requires detainees to know at least 48 hours in advance of the charges they will face in court. In a press conference held this afternoon, the authorities informed that the charges have not yet been presented and told the local press that he does not rule out that others may be added once they are presented.
At the moment, the reasons that led Aldrich, 22, to carry out the attack are not known. Michael Allen, the district attorney, avoided telling reporters if the investigators had spoken with him, who was admitted Monday morning to a city hospital, located 110 kilometers south of Denver.
The shooting, however, has left several clues that allow the district attorney to frame the event as a hate crime. A high-powered Ar-15 rifle was used, the weapon of choice for shooters looking to leave a large number of victims. Another was the place and the day chosen. A gay club minutes before midnight on November 20, the date that commemorates trans people who have been victims of transphobia. The prosecutor’s office must provide elements that show that the suspect had previous behaviors in which he revealed his prejudices.
Although the investigation is in its early stages, authorities seem to agree that the damage Aldrich sought to cause would be even worse were it not for Richard Fierro. This man, a retired military man, was sitting at one of the tables at Club Q with his wife, daughters and friends watching a show of drag queen when the shooter started shooting at the bar patrons. “He saved so many lives … he had never met anyone who had done such heroic acts and was so humble about it,” John Suthers, the mayor of this community of 480,000, said Sunday.
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“I don’t know what I did, but I went into combat mode. I just know that I had to kill this guy before he killed us all,” Fierro, 45, told The New York Times. Experienced from four combat tours to Iraq and Afghanistan, Fierro jumped out of his seat and headed for the source of the fire rather than running from it. He pushed through the chaos that reigned on the site and charged at Aldrich despite his imposing figure. Some witnesses have said that he weighed at least 130 kilos and was dressed in combat armor. Despite this, Fierro brought him down. They both fell to the ground and the AR-15 went flying. The hero of the evening, who had spent 15 years in the armed forces, saw that Aldrich had a short weapon in his hand. He snatched it from her and started hitting her on the head with it.
Dozens of people have come to the memorial that has been improvised outside the nightclub to remember the victims. Kelly Loving, was a 40-year-old trans from Memphis who was in Colorado Springs visiting some of her friends.
Daniel Aston was a 28-year-old trans man. He, along with Derrick Rump, 38, and another of the deceased, were waiters at the Q. They have been cited by clients and friends as two employees who made it easier to welcome customers who set foot in a place for the first time where it was safe to be yourself.
Ashley Paugh, 35, had gone to the club with a friend to see one of the evening’s entertainment numbers, a stand-up comedy. She was employed by a non-profit adoption organization. She was married and had an eleven year old daughter.
Raymond Green Vance, a FedEx employee, was also at the wrong place and time that night. At the age of 22, he had visited Club Q for the first time with his girlfriend to see, as Fierro did, the number of a drag queen. The governor of Colorado, Jared Polis, the first gay elected to a local government, has decreed that the flags in the entity fly on average until the next five days. One for each person who lost their life inside Club Q.
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