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Sunday, February 5, 2023

Police: Gunman kills 5 at gay club, is subdued by patrons

Police identified the gunman as Anderson Lee Aldrich, who was in custody and being treated for injuries

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Colorado Springs (US), Nov 21 (AP): A 22-year-old gunman opened fire inside a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, killing five people and leaving 25 injured before he was subdued by “heroic” patrons and arrested by police who arrived within minutes, authorities said Sunday.

Two firearms, including a “long rifle,” were found at Club Q after the Saturday night shooting, said Police Chief Adrian Vasquez.

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On its Facebook page, the club called it a “hate attack.” Investigators were still determining a motive and whether to prosecute it as a hate crime, said El Paso County District Attorney Michael Allen. Charges against the suspect “will likely include first-degree murder,” he said.

Police identified the gunman as Anderson Lee Aldrich, who was in custody and being treated for injuries.

A man with that name was arrested in 2021 after his mother reported he threatened her with a homemade bomb and other weapons, authorities said. They declined to elaborate on that arrest. No explosives were found, authorities said at the time, and The Gazette in Colorado Springs reported that prosecutors did not pursue any charges and that records were sealed.

Authorities were called to Club Q at 11.57 pm on Saturday with a report of a shooting, and the first officer arrived at midnight.

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Joshua Thurman said he was in the club with about two dozen other people and was dancing when the shots began. He initially thought it was part of the music, until he heard another shot and said he saw the flash of a gun muzzle.

Thurman, 34, said he ran with another person to a dressing room where someone already was hiding. They locked the door, turned off the lights and got on the floor but could hear the violence unfolding, including the gunman getting beaten up, he added.

“I could have lost my life — over what? What was the purpose?” he said as tears ran down his cheeks.”We were just enjoying ourselves. We weren’t out harming anyone. We were in our space, our community, our home, enjoying ourselves like everybody else does.”

The gunman was confronted by “at least two heroic people” who fought and subdued the suspect, Vasquez said.

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“We owe them a great debt of thanks,” he added. Detectives also were examining whether anyone had helped Aldrich before the attack, Vasquez said.

Of the 25 injured, at least seven were in critical condition, authorities said. Some were hurt trying to flee, and it was unclear if all of the victims were shot, a police spokesperson said.

The shooting rekindled memories of the 2016 massacre at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that killed 49 people. Colorado has experienced several mass killings, including at Columbine High School in 1999, a movie theatre in suburban Denver in 2012 and at a Boulder supermarket last year.

It was the sixth mass killing this month and came in a year when the nation was shaken by the deaths of 21 in a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

Club Q is a gay and lesbian nightclub that features a drag show on Saturdays, according to its website. Club Q’s Facebook page said planned entertainment included a “punk and alternative show” preceding a birthday dance party, with a Sunday “all ages brunch.”

Drag events have become a focus of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and protests recently as opponents, including politicians, have proposed banning children from them, falsely claiming they’re used to “groom” children.

Attorney General Merrick Garland was briefed on the shooting, Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said. The FBI said it was assisting but said the police department was leading the investigation.

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The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur
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