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Editor’s Note: This is a developing story and will be updated as new information becomes available. Last updated 11/22/22 at 10:17 a.m. to reflect the Colorado Springs Police Department’s revised number of injuries.
Just before midnight on Saturday, a gunman—who is now in custody and has been identified by law enforcement—opened fire on patrons of Club Q. According to Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez, the shooter used a long gun; two firearms were found at the scene. Investigators say they are not yet sure who owned the weapons. The attack ended, Vasquez said, when clubgoers challenged the gunman and prevented further bloodshed.
As of Sunday morning, five deaths have been confirmed and at least two people are in critical condition. Those who were wounded—from gunshots and from injuries sustained during the chaos—were taken to two area hospital systems, according to Colorado Springs Fire Chief Randy Royal.
On Monday, court records revealed that the suspect had been charged with five counts of murder and five counts of bias-motivated crime causing bodily injury.
Local law enforcement received the first call about the shooting at 11:56 p.m. Colorado Springs Police Department spokesperson Lt. Pamela Castro said that within six minutes officers had breached the club and took the suspect, who was also injured, into custody. According to CNN, a Colorado Springs man with the same name as the suspect in custody was arrested in June 2021 in connection to a bomb threat against his mother. Authorities have yet to confirm publicly that it is the same person.
Club Q released a statement on its Facebook page at around 3 a.m. on Sunday, which read: “Club Q is devastated by the senseless attack on our community. Our prays [sic] and thoughts are with all the victims and their families and friends. We thank the quick reactions of heroic customers that subdued the gunman and ended this hate attack.”
According to a Saturday post on its Facebook page, the club, which has been a refuge for Colorado Springs’ LGBTQ community for more than two decades, had been planning to celebrate Transgender Day of Remembrance today with drink specials, an all-ages drag brunch, and other performances this evening. Those festivities have been replaced by a day of mourning.
Colorado has been the backdrop for some of the country’s most devastating mass shootings, including those that occurred at Columbine High School near Littleton, the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, and a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder. Today, Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who identifies as part of the LGBTQ community, released this statement: “This is horrific, sickening, and devastating. My heart breaks for the family and friends of those lost, injured, and traumatized in this horrific shooting. I have spoken with [Colorado Springs] Mayor [John] Suthers and made it clear that every state resource is available to local law enforcement in Colorado Springs. We are eternally grateful for the brave individuals who blocked the gunman likely saving lives in the process and for the first responders who responded swiftly to this horrific shooting. Colorado stands with our LGTBQ community and everyone impacted by this tragedy as we mourn together.”
President Joe Biden released a statement about the nightclub shooting on Sunday as well. It read, in part: “While no motive in this attack is yet clear, we know that the LGBTQI+ community has been subjected to horrific hate violence in recent years. Gun violence continues to have a devastating and particular impact on LGBTQI+ communities across our nation and threats of violence are increasing. … And tragically, we saw it last night in this devastating attack by a gunman wielding a long rifle at an LGBTQI+ nightclub in Colorado Springs. Places that are supposed to be safe spaces of acceptance and celebration should never be turned into places of terror and violence. Yet it happens far too often. We must drive out the inequities that contribute to violence against LGBTQI+ people. We cannot and must not tolerate hate.”
In a news conference on Sunday, District Attorney Michael Allen said charges for the suspect in the shooting likely will include first-degree murder, a conviction for which could levy a harsher sentence than a hate-crime charge. Although determining whether the assault was a hate crime will be investigated by law enforcement, Allen said the bias-motivated crime statute in the Centennial State will presumably not be a factor during the case because the Class 1 felony charges are already “top level.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is assisting the Colorado Springs Police Department in the ongoing investigation.
Around noon on Sunday, Club Q posted a link on its Facebook page to a donation site through Colorado Gives 365. A local GoFundMe page is also collecting donations to distribute to families of victims and survivors to assist with funeral expenses, medical expenses, and more.