Sabrina Aston, the mother of 28-year-old Daniel Aston, says he was killed in the shooting at Club Q that killed five and injured 25 others.
Members of Colorado Spring’s LGBTQ community say Club Q has been one of only a few havens where they could be fully authentic in one of the state’s more conservative metros.
Two years ago, Daniel Aston moved from Tulsa to Colorado Springs — where his parents had settled — and started at Club Q as a bartender and entertainer, where his parents would join in the cheers at his shows.
“(Daniel’s shows) are great. Everybody needs to go see him,” his mother said. “He lit up a room, always smiling, always happy and silly.”
Sabrina Aston first heard about the attack and that her son had been shot at 2 a.m. on Sunday when the phone rang. It was one of her son’s friends breaking the news that a shooting had occurred at Club Q and their son was in Memorial Hospital.
“It’s just a nightmare that you can’t wake up from,” she said.
Sabrina and Daniel’s father, Jeff Aston rushed to the hospital, where they were first asked to wait outside, then in a waiting room and finally in a private room where detective asked them questions as authorities worked to identify the bodies.
Sabrina Aston told the detective about her son’s tattoos, including a heart on his left arm, pierced by an arrow, and wrapped in a ribbon reading ‘Mom’.
The couple was sent home without any update and sat in a stupor, their minds cycling through hope, then the worst, then hope that it wasn’t the worst.
“We thought he had just gotten hurt — you can fix hurt,” his mother said.
When a detective and a patient advocate knocked on their door later that morning, Sabrina Aston said she thought of the soldiers walking towards the homes of yet-unaware widows during wartime. She knew what had happened.
“We are in shock, we cried for a little bit, but then you go through this phase where you are just kind of numb, and I’m sure it will hit us again,” she said. “I keep thinking it’s a mistake, they made a mistake, and that he is really alive.”
Authorities say at least two bar patrons rushed into action – grabbing a handgun from the suspect, hitting him with it and pinning him down until police arrived just minutes later.
Colorado Springs police and city officials credit them with stopping the gunman and limiting the bloodshed in Saturday night’s shooting at Club Q.
“Had that individual not intervened this could have been exponentially more tragic,” Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers told The Associated Press.
Police identified the alleged gunman as 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, who was in custody and being treated for injuries.
A law enforcement official said the suspect used an AR-15-style semiautomatic weapon in the attack, but a handgun and additional ammunition magazines also were recovered.