COLORADO SPRINGS, (NewsNation) — Officials identified the victims killed in Sunday’s shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs as Kelly Loving, Daniel Aston, Derrick Rump, Ashley Paugh and Raymond Green Vance.
Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said they are trying to give victims and their families dignity and respect following the “horrific, sad and tragic event.”
According to a news release from Colorado Springs police, injuries and fatalities include:
- 5 deceased community members: Kelly Loving, Daniel Aston, Derrick Rump, Ashley Paugh and Raymond Green Vance.
- 17 community members who are injured because of a gunshot wound
- 1 community member who was injured, but not because of a gunshot wound
- 1 community member who was a victim with no visible injuries
Earlier Monday, court records showed that officials had charged a 22-year-old man with five counts each of murder and committing a bias-motivated crime in connection with the shooting. However, the charges were preliminary, and prosecutors had not yet filed them in court.
Authorities have been searching for a possible motive after the suspect, whom police identified as Anderson Lee Aldrich, killed at least five people and injured more than a dozen others.
Officials said they believe the gunman opened fire with an AR-15-style semiautomatic weapon inside Club Q sometime shortly before midnight Sunday. Police said he was also carrying a handgun and additional ammunition magazines.
“We know many more community members were present at Club Q during the shooting, who may be victims with no visible injuries,” police said in an official statement Monday. “An example is a community member who ran out as the shooting occurred. We are asking anyone in the community who might have been a victim or has information about a potential victim, or might have seen something, has information about this incident, to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) by calling1-800-CALL-FBI (or 1-800-225-5324).”
Investigators as of Monday evening were still determining a motive and whether to prosecute it as a hate crime, El Paso County District Attorney Michael Allen said to NewsNation on-air Monday morning.
“We’re looking at also hate crime potentially if there’s any bias-motivated aspects of this. There’s obviously some evidence of that based on the fact of where this occurred,” Allen said. “We’re going to be looking closely at that and any statements that he may have made prior to coming down here to commit this horrible act.”
Allen told NewsNation that Aldrich should be released from the hospital Monday, and he could appear in court via video conference either Monday or Tuesday.
Aldrich’s condition has not been released. As such, a photo of him was not available, Colorado Springs police said.
One victim killed in the shooting, Daniel Aston, a 28-year-old transgender man and the self-proclaimed “Master of Silly Business,” was remembered by his mother in an interview with NewsNation affiliate KDVR Sunday night. Aston had performed and bartended at Club Q, a place his mother said allowed Aston to be himself.
The attack at Club Q ended when a patron grabbed a handgun from the suspect and hit him with it, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers told The Associated Press. Mayor Suthers, at a news conference Monday, identified two heroes who intervened in the shooting as Thomas James and Richard Fierro. Those who hit the gunman had him pinned down until police arrived minutes later, Suthers said.
Mayor Suthers said he spoke with Fierro earlier Monday.
“I have never encountered a person who had engaged in such heroic actions that was so humble about it,” Suthers said. “He simply said to me, ‘I was trying to protect my family.’”
Vasquez said their quick thinking and action saved countless lives. He said they are owed a debt of gratitude for preventing more deaths.
Witnesses described a harrowing two minutes where Aldrich allegedly worked his way through the club firing his rifle into the crowd while guests ducked for cover or ran for the doors.
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. Among them was the DJ performing that night and an 80-year-old man, who was described as a regular at Club Q.
Suthers said there was “reason to hope” that all of those hospitalized would recover.
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.
“There was nothing stopping that man from coming through those doors, the doors were locked but they weren’t bolted. There was nothing stopping it from coming through and ending us all.”
Detectives also were examining whether anyone had helped Aldrich before the attack, Vasquez said. Due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, officials would not provide answers about how the weapons were obtained or any potential criminal history. They did say it is “premature” to speak about the Red Flag Law in connection to this case.
“I would caution against an assumption that the circumstances of this case would lead to application of the Red Flag Law. We don’t know that. I would caution any conclusion either way or not,” Suthers said.
Suthers noted that Club Q had operated for 21 years and had not reported any threats before Saturday’s attack.
Club Q is a gay and lesbian nightclub that features a drag show 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 drag brunch.
“This club was a safe haven in our community and that’s something to be respected and honored,” a Colorado Springs police representative said.
Suthers said the Colorado Healing Fund has been set up to provide people with a secure way to help victims of the tragedy. The Colorado Springs Police Department in partnership with community members specializing in mental health resources, spiritual support, animal support, emergency financial aid and LGBTQ support are hosting an expo for those grappling with the tragedy.
NewsNation affiliate KDVR and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
This story is developing. Refresh for updates.