Chase Woodruff

(Colorado Newsline) At least 5 people were killed and 18 others injured in a shooting late Saturday night at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs.

Officers responded to 911 calls from Club Q in East Colorado Springs shortly before midnight and took a 22-year-old male suspect into custody, the Colorado Springs Police Department said in a press conference Sunday morning.

In a Facebook post, Club Q described the shooting as a “hate attack.” CSPD chief Adrian Vasquez called Club Q “a safe haven for our LGBTQ citizens” and said that “whether this was a hate crime” would be part of the investigation.

“Every citizen has the right to feel safe and secure in our city,” Vasquez said. “I’m so terribly saddened and heartbroken.”

Vasquez said that initial evidence and eyewitness accounts indicate the suspect entered the club and “immediately began shooting” with a long gun. A second firearm was recovered from the scene, he said.

In a statement Sunday morning, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, the nation’s first openly gay governor, called the Club Q shooting “horrific, sickening, and devastating.”

“My heart breaks for the family and friends of those lost, injured, and traumatized in this horrific shooting,” Polis said. “I have spoken with Mayor (John) Suthers and made it clear that every state resource is available to local law enforcement in Colorado Springs.”

Police identified the suspect as Anderson Lee Aldrich. A man by that name was taken into custody by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office in June 2021 after making threats involving “homemade bomb, multiple weapons, and ammunition,” according to news reports at the time.

Though he was arrested on suspicion of two counts of felony menacing and three counts of first-degree kidnapping, no formal charges were pursued, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.

Saturday’s shooting comes amid a nationwide wave of violence, intimidation and harassment against members of the LGBTQ community by right-wing extremists. LGBTQ-inclusive events like drag queen story hours have been canceled due to threats in Colorado and across the country, while bomb scares have repeatedly targeted hospitals over transgender care.

Vasquez said that at least two people inside Club Q “confronted and fought with the suspect,” preventing him from harming others.

“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,” said Polis. “Colorado stands with our LGTBQ community and everyone impacted by this tragedy as we mourn together.”