SF LGBTQs mourn victims in Colorado Springs shooting

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Sunday November 20, 2022
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Alex U. Inn speaks at a vigil for the Club Q victims that was held in San Francisco's Castro LGBTQ district Sunday, November 20. Photo: Christopher Robledo
Alex U. Inn speaks at a vigil for the Club Q victims that was held in San Francisco's Castro LGBTQ district Sunday, November 20. Photo: Christopher Robledo

Harvey Milk Plaza in San Francisco's LGBTQ Castro district was filled with mourners Sunday night, grieving the loss of life following a mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs November 19 that left five people dead.

Officers were dispatched to Club Q, an LGBTQ nightclub located at 3430 North Academy, at 11:57 p.m. Mountain time Saturday, November 19 after receiving a 911 call seconds earlier, at 11:56:57 p.m., according to the release.

"Multiple firearms were found at the scene," according to the release from the police department. Authorities were still working to identify who the firearms belonged to, but stated that a long rifle was used during the shooting.

Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez noted that Club Q "is a safe haven for our LGBTQ citizens. ... I am so terribly saddened and heartbroken."

Police released the names and pronoun preferences of the victims Monday. They are: Kelly Loving (she/her), Daniel Aston (he/him), Derrick Rump (he/him), Ashley Paugh (she/her), and Raymond Green Vance (he/him). Media reports indicated that Aston, who was a bartender at the club, identified as a trans man and Loving was a trans woman.

Three of the victims in the Club Q shooting were identified by Colorado Springs police as Kelly Loving, left, Daniel Aston, and Derrick Rump. Photo: CSPD  

Police stated that the victims' families did not wish to do interviews. Loving's sister, Tiffany, issued a statement: "My condolences go out to all the families who lost someone in this tragic event, and to everyone struggling to be accepted in this world. My sister was a good person. She was loving and caring and sweet. Everyone loved her."

Vance's family issued a statement saying that the 22-year-old had gone to Club Q to enjoy a show with his longtime girlfriend. His family stated that while he was supportive of the LGBTQ community, he was not a member of it. Vance had just gotten a job at a FedEx distribution center and was thrilled to have received his first paycheck, the statement read.

Club Q victim Ashley Paugh. Photo: CSPD  

Paugh's husband, Kurt Paugh, also issued a statement.

"Ashley was a loving wife — she was my high school sweetheart — and she was just an amazing mother," Kurt Paugh stated. "Her daughter was her whole world, and she was so proud of Ryleigh, who is a championship swimmer. She loved her dad, her sister, and her family; Ashley was a loving aunt, with many nieces and nephews who are devastated by her loss."

She worked at Kids Crossing, a nonprofit that helps find homes for foster children, her husband stated.

Club Q victim Raymond Green Vance. Photo: CSPD  

Authorities issued an updated release Monday that stated 17 people were injured because of a gunshot wound; one person who was injured, but not because of a gunshot wound; and one person who was a victim with no visible injuries.

The Colorado Springs Police Department said in a November 20 news release that a suspect, identified as Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, had been taken into custody. He was also injured, authorities said.

Aldrich was charged Monday with five counts of murder and five counts of bias-motivated crime causing bodily injury, the New York Times reported

One or more patrons of the club "heroically intervened to subdue" Aldrich, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers stated in the release. News reports indicated that the patron pistol-whipped Aldrich with one of his own guns. Suthers told the New York Times that when police arrived, a patron was still on top of Aldrich.

Police on Monday identified the people who subdued the suspect as Thomas James and Richard Fierro and said they had permission from the two to do so.

At a vigil at Harvey Milk Plaza in San Francisco's LGBTQ Castro district Sunday evening, people grieved and many recalled the 2016 mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in which 43 people were killed and 52 injured.

Gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), who attended the vigil, stated earlier Sunday that the mass shooting "is yet another nightmarish reminder that LGBTQ people are not safe in this country."

"It's hard to overstate how devastating this shooting is for our community," he stated. "LGBTQ nightclubs are sacred safe spaces — where we gather, connect, and build community. This mass murder is a horrific reminder of how much work lies ahead. As we remember and pray for the dead, their families, and their friends and community, we must continue to fight against this hate and violence and the violent rhetoric online and in politics that fuels it."

Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D), a gay man who just won reelection to a second term, tweeted Sunday morning that he was sickened by the incident.

"This is horrific, sickening, and devastating," he wrote. "My heart breaks for the family and friends of those lost, injured, and traumatized by this terrible shooting."

Polis added that he had spoken with Suthers and told him 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," Polis wrote. "Colorado stands with our LGBTQ community and everyone impacted by this tragedy as we mourn."

Later Sunday, Polis retweeted that the Colorado Healing Fund has been activated to accept donations to help the victims and families of the attack.

In a news release issued through GLAAD, Club Q expressed its grief. The club remains closed until further notice, according to its website.

"Club Q is in shock, and deep mourning, with the family and friends who had loved ones senselessly taken from them," the release stated. "We condemn the horrific violence that shattered an evening of celebration for all in the LGBTQ community of Colorado Springs and our allies. Club Q offers our greatest gratitude to those who moved immediately to stop the gunman and prevent more loss of life and injury. Club Q has always provided a space for LGBTQ people and our ally friends to celebrate together."

The Los Angeles Times reported that the club had featured a "Drag Diva Drag Show" Saturday night. Its Facebook page had promoted a punk and alternative show Saturday night, followed by an all-ages drag brunch that had been set for Sunday.

President Joe Biden issued a statement Sunday condemning gun violence.

"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," Biden stated. "Gun violence continues to have a devastating and particular impact on LGBTQI+ communities across our nation and threats of violence are increasing. We saw it six years ago in Orlando, when our nation suffered the deadliest attack affecting the LGBTQI+ community in American history. We continue to see it in the epidemic of violence and murder against transgender women — especially transgender women of color. 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," the president added. "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.

"Today, yet another community in America has been torn apart by gun violence," Biden stated. "More families left with an empty chair at the table and hole in their lives that cannot be filled. When will we decide we've had enough? We must address the public health epidemic of gun violence in all of its forms. Earlier this year, I signed the most significant gun safety law in nearly three decades, in addition to taking other historic actions. But we must do more. We need to enact an assault weapons ban to get weapons of war off America's streets.

"Today, Jill and I are praying for the families of the five people killed in Colorado Springs last night, and for those injured in this senseless attack," Biden concluded.

Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) also issued a statement Sunday morning.

"Americans awoke this morning to horrific news: a brutal attack on an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs," she stated, Our hearts break at the senseless slaughter of least five beautiful souls and the many more injured or forever traumatized, at what was a sanctuary of safety and solidarity.

"The attack on Club Q, which fell on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, is despicable — further shattering the sense of safety of LGBTQ Americans across the country," Pelosi stated. "While Democrats have taken important steps to combat gun violence this Congress, this deadly attack is a challenge to our conscience and a reminder that we must keep fighting to do more."

California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) stated that "once again, the LGBTQ community has been a victim of a horrifying attack."

"Our hearts are with Colorado, and all those affected by this tragedy," Newsom stated. "Hate is taught. Words matter. California stands with the LGBTQ community and their right to live freely."

The LA Times noted that Colorado Springs has long been a center for evangelical organizations. The anti-LGBTQ Focus on the Family is based there. The city has a population of about 480,000 and is located in east-central Colorado, about 70 miles south of Denver.

The shooting is the latest to occur in the U.S. at LGBTQ venues. On June 12, 2016, a gunman killed 49 people and injured 53 at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. That gunman, Omar Mateen, was killed in a shootout with police.

Updated, 11/22/22: This story has been updated with the victims' names and other information.

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