22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich killed five people and wounded at least 25 others in a shooting at Club Q. The club is a safe haven for the LGBTQ+ community of Colorado Springs, which has a population of roughly 500,000.

And the two customers who subdued Aldrich are being hailed as local heroes.

Aldrich opened fire in the club just before midnight on Sunday, November 20, and fatally wounded five people. Two clubgoers bravely subdued Aldrich while waiting for authorities to arrive. Law enforcement arrived on the scene minutes later and took Aldrich into custody.

This is not Aldrich’s first run-in with Colorado Springs law enforcement

This is not the first time local law enforcement has confronted Aldrich in connection with a crime. In 2021, authorities arrested Aldrich after his mother, Laura Voepel, said he had threatened her with a homemade bomb. Aldrich then engaged in a standoff with police for hours before he surrendered.

Voepel’s landlord kicked her out after the incident and has reportedly never heard from either of them since.

Some are questioning law enforcement’s culpability in last night’s shooting. In Colorado, it is now standard protocol to petition for the temporary removal of any weapons from a person deemed dangerous. Authorities say they did not consider Aldrich an active threat.

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office did not pursue charges against Aldrich following the bomb threat.

The LGBTQ+ community in Colorado Springs mourns Aldrich’s five victims

The LGBTQ+ community of Colorado Springs has rallied around the victims of the shooting at Club Q. Queer communities have been more vigilant than ever in the wake of the 2016 Pulse shooting in Orlando that left 49 people dead. Prior to the shooting, Club Q had protocols in place in the event of an incident like the one that took place on Sunday night.

A member of Colorado Springs’ queer community named Tiana Nicole Dykes lost multiple friends in the shooting. “This space means the world to me,” she said. “The energy, the people, the message. It’s an amazing place that didn’t deserve this tragedy.”

Another resident of Colorado Springs, Antonio Taylor, said Club Q was one of the only places in the city where they felt safe. “I’m sick to my stomach that the one place where I knew I was safe has been made unsafe,” they said in an interview with CNN.

The shooting spree coincides with Trans Day of Remembrance, where members of the queer community mourn victims of anti-trans violence.

A trans man named Cole Danielson previously worked at Club Q and recently celebrated his wedding at the club. “This space is really the only place in Colorado Springs that the LGBTQ+ community can get together and be ourselves,” he said.

“Our safety as queer people in Colorado Springs is now questioned,” he continued. “I’m scared to be myself as a trans man in this community.”

The two Colorado Springs clubgoers who subdued Aldrich are local heroes

The two customers who subdued Aldrich until law enforcement arrived on the scene have not come forward to identify themselves. However, both customers are now heroes to the queer community of Colorado Springs. The state is home to the country’s first openly gay governor, Jared Polis.

Polis singled out the customers who stopped Aldrich’s shooting spree in a statement, saying, “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.”

Club Q praised the customers in a Facebook post, writing, “We thank the quick reactions of heroic customers that subdued the gunman and ended this hate attack.”

Supporters from across the country rally around Club Q

Colorado Springs is not the only city that has endured attacks against the queer community in recent years. Aldrich’s shooting conjures memories of the 2016 shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The Pulse shooting is one of the deadliest hate crimes in American history with 49 dead.

Pulse Orlando expressed solidarity with the Club Q victims soon after the shooting.

An Instagram post made soon after the shooting reads, “We are deeply saddened and horrified by the mass shooting at the Club Q nightclub in Colorado Springs that killed five people and wounded 18 others. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the victims and their families, as well as the wounded and those affected by this tragedy.”

President Biden also released a statement after the shooting. “Places that are supposed to be safe spaces of acceptance and celebration should never be turned into places of terror and violence. Yet it happens far too often,” he said.

“We must drive out the inequities that contribute to violence against LGBTQI+ people,” he continued. “We cannot and must not tolerate hate.” Both of Colorado’s senators, John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet, offered similar sentiments. Bennet said he was “sending strength to those who were injured, the survivors, and Colorado’s LGBTQ community” in a recent tweet.

Governor Polis ordered officials to lower the flag to half-staff for five days, one day for each of Aldrich’s victims. Colorado’s state capitol will also be displaying the Pride flag for five days, Polis confirmed.

“Everyone knew (Club Q). I knew it, knew this venue,” Polis said in an interview. “It’s just shocking.” However, the governor has hope for the future of Colorado’s queer community. “I know we’re going to bounce back,” he added. “We’re showing love for one another. We’re showing healing for one another.”