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Monday, November 28, 2022

Army Vet, Navy Sailor Take Down Gunman in LGBTQ Club Mass Shooting

Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, has been hospitalized since his arrest and police say he has not spoken about his motive for the attack.

An Army combat veteran and an active-duty sailor are being hailed as heroes for disarming and restraining the gunman who killed five people and wounded 18 more in a Saturday night mass shooting at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ bar.

Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, has been hospitalized since his arrest and police say he has not spoken about his motive for the attack. He faces five preliminary counts of first-degree murder and five counts of causing bodily injury by means of bias-motivated crime, with additional charges expected and a formal filing of charges coming after he is released from the hospital.

“I haven’t heard that he has not been cooperative, just simply that he has determined not to speak to investigators,” Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said.

The first call of the shooting at Club Q was received by police at 11:56 p.m., minutes before the Transgender Day of Remembrance that observes the memory of transgender individuals who were victims of violence. The first officer arrived at midnight, and Aldrich was in custody two minutes later.

“At least two heroic people inside the club confronted and fought with the suspect and were able to stop the suspect,” Vasquez said. “We owe them a great debt of thanks.”

Aldrich was wielding the rifle and also was in possession of a handgun, police say.

Richard Fierro, a local brewery owner who served four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was in the club to celebrate a birthday with friends, his wife, his daughter, and his daughter’s boyfriend — Raymond Green Vance, 22, who was killed in the attack along with Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh, Daniel Aston, and Derrick Rump.

“I went to the ground … as soon as I heard the rounds,” Fierro told CNN on Monday evening. He grabbed the shooter’s vest and pulled him down after seeing the gunman move toward the club’s patio area. “His rifle flew in front of him. And the young man that tried to jump in there with me he — we both either pulled him down or whatever, but he ended up at his head right next to the AR and then with the AR, I told him push the AR. Get the AR away from him.”

“The kid pushed the AR. I don’t know what his name was. And then I proceeded to take his other weapon, a pistol, and then just start hitting him where I could, but the armor is in the way and I just started — I found a crease between his armor and his head, and I just started wailing away with his gun. And then I told the kid in front of me, kick him, keep kicking him. And we were — I was guiding, I was telling people, call 911. Call 911.”

The Navy said in a statement today that the person who assisted Fierro, Information Systems Technician Second Class Thomas James, “was among those injured in the Colorado nightclub shooting on Nov. 19.”

“James is currently in stable condition and we remain hopeful he will make a full recovery,” the Navy said. “We ask that all respect his privacy as he continues his recovery.”

Aldrich had previous contact with police in 2021, when he was arrested after his mother reported that he had made threats with homemade explosives and several weapons. He was taken into custody on two counts of felony menacing and three counts of first-degree kidnapping, but was not charged and was eventually released.

Aldrich livestreamed the standoff with police, clad in body armor and a helmet inside the home where his mother rented a room, agitated and challenging law enforcement to enter the home and threatening to blow it up.

The FBI’s Denver Field Office tweeted Sunday in a joint statement with the DOJ Civil Rights Division, National Security Division, and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado that they “will review all available facts of the incident to determine what federal response is warranted.” The FBI is also providing assistance to Colorado Springs police.

Bridget Johnson
Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a terrorism analyst and security consultant with a specialty in online open-source extremist propaganda, incitement, recruitment, and training. She hosts and presents in Homeland Security Today law enforcement training webinars studying a range of counterterrorism topics including conspiracy theory extremism, complex coordinated attacks, critical infrastructure attacks, arson terrorism, drone and venue threats, antisemitism and white supremacists, anti-government extremism, and WMD threats. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15 and a private investigator. Bridget is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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