COLORADO SPRINGS – Police on Monday identified the five people killed and the two patrons who subdued a gunman as he opened fire in an LGBTQ club.
“Too often society loses track of the victims of these sad and tragic events in all the talk about the suspect,” Colorado Springs police chief Adrian Vasquez said. “We strive to give the victims the dignity and respect that they deserve.”
“We respect all of our community members including our LGBTQ community, therefore we will be identifying the victims in how they identified themselves and how their families loved and identified them,” Vasquez said.
The victims killed at Club Q on Saturday night were identified as Kelly Loving, Daniel Aston, Derrick Rump, Ashley Paugh and Raymond Green Vance.
Seventeen others were shot, one person was injured but was not shot and another person was hurt without visible injuries, police said. The CEO of Penrose Hospital said three victims were in stable condition. Ten people remained hospitalized at UCHealth, a spokeswoman said.
Thomas James and Richard Fierro were the two patrons who confronted the gunman, preventing him from killing others, Vasquez said.
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Mayor John Suthers spoke to Fierro earlier Monday and praised his quick action in disarming the shooter.
“I have never encountered a person who had engaged in such heroic actions that was so humble about it. He simply said to me, ‘I was trying to protect my family,’” Suthers said, before declining to provide further details.
Fierro, who owns a Colorado Springs brewery, told the New York Times that he tackled the gunman and pinned him to the ground. Fierro, who served tours in the U.S. Army in Iraq and Afghanistan, then beat the gunman with the gunman’s pistol, he told the Times.
Fierro was at the club with his wife and daughter, their daughter’s boyfriend and other friends celebrating a birthday party. The daughter’s boyfriend, Green Vance, was among the five people killed.
Fierro told the Times that he saw the gunman headed toward a patio where many of the bar patrons had fled, so he ran across the room and pulled him to the ground. The man’s rifle landed out of his reach, and Fierro grabbed his pistol and repeatedly hit him in the head with it. Others joined in to help, including a trans woman who stomped on the gunman with her heels, Fierro said.
The gunman faces 10 preliminary charges, including five counts of first-degree murder after deliberation and five counts of committing a bias-motivated crime.
The investigation into the shooting could continue up until the date of the gunman’s trial, 4th Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen said.
The suspect is expected to be released from the hospital in the next few days, Allen said. Afterward, he will attend a court hearing for his first appearance and will be held in jail without bond.
Allen said his office will review hate-crime charges.
“It is important to let the community know that we do not tolerate bias-motivated crimes in this community, that we support communities that have been maligned, harassed and intimidated and abused,” he said.
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The district attorney declined to speak about law enforcement’s prior interactions with the gunman. Allen also declined to address Colorado’s red flag gun law, which authorizes judges to order the temporary seizure of firearms from some people deemed a significant risk to themselves or others, saying that the DA’s office doesn’t have a role in it.
“It has to be initiated by law enforcement or a member of the public. Not the DA’s office,” he said.
A man by the same name as the accused shooter was arrested in June 2021 on felony menacing and kidnapping charges, but prosecutors did not pursue charges, a decision that Allen also declined to address.
Suthers said he hopes law enforcement takes advantage of the red flag law in “appropriate circumstances.”
“I don’t run a law enforcement agency. But that would be my advice to law enforcement agencies,” Suthers said. “I would caution against an assumption that the circumstances of this case would lead to an application of red flag law. We don’t know that.”
Police Lt. Pamela Castro urged those at the club at the time of the shooting to contact the department.
“We know there were more people at the club and we would really like to speak to them,” Castro said.
Details about the injuries to victims who survived the shooting were beginning to emerge Monday. Family and friends said some received multiple gunshot wounds.
Joe Shelton dropped Ed Sanders off at Club Q on Saturday evening and the next time he saw his friend was in the hospital, where he was being treated for two gunshot wounds. Sanders was shot once in the back and once in the leg and is recovering from surgery, Shelton said. He was still in the hospital Monday morning.
“He’s in good condition, smiling through and pushing forward,” he said.
Sanders, 63, is the webmaster and a former board member for the United Court of the Pikes Peak Empire, a local nonprofit that holds social activities for the LGBTQ community and fundraising events — from bingo to drag shows — to benefit the community, Shelton said. Last week, the organization’s board selected Sanders as Prince Royal, a position that supports fundraising efforts and events.
Shelton described Sanders as an “amazing soul” who loves everyone and keeps a smile on his face. “He always stands strong and pushes through anything that brings people down,” he said.
Barrett Hudson was shot seven times in the back, he said speaking from a hospital bed via Facebook Live Sunday night.
Hudson said he went to Club Q to watch a drag show when a gunman walked in with what he believed looked like an AR-15. He said he fell to the ground when he was shot, got back up and ran to the back door and hopped on a table and over a fence.
He ran to the nearby 7-Eleven, where bystanders helped him and he called his dad, he said.
“I shouldn’t be alive,” Hudson said. “All the bullets missed my organs.”
“I really feel for the people who didn’t make it,” he said with tears in his eyes.
He called for more security at LGBTQ clubs and community centers. “We are targeted more than other places,” he said. “The hate comes after us.”
Hudson said he was doing “amazing” in his recovery.