Gunman shatters a secure house for Colorado Springs LGBTQ neighborhood

Samantha Alcock drove from Denver to Colorado Springs on Sunday after she heard {that a} gunman had opened fireplace at a well-liked homosexual nightclub, killing 5 and leaving greater than 20 folks damage.

Alcock, 25, used to reside in Colorado Springs and cherished Membership Q. She had her twenty first birthday there, spent different holidays there — spent practically each weekend there.

“It’s the only place we felt safe,” Alcock mentioned by way of tears as her companion, Kade Orlandini, 30, rubbed her again.

She was nonetheless ready to listen to again from pals Sunday, she mentioned, hoping they had been secure.

“It’s not easy being queer in Colorado Springs,” she mentioned. “I feel shattered.”

The stunning violence at Membership Q introduced LGBTQ neighborhood members and allies to the nightclub Sunday, the place they erected a memorial as they tried to consolation each other and await phrase on the destiny of pals.

Brandon Bjorklund, 26, who’s straight, and Devin Smith, 25, who identifies as pansexual, sat on the curb holding one another intently.

“This is a conservative town in Colorado, so the gay community already didn’t feel very welcome,” Bjorklund mentioned. “This just heightens it and makes it worse.”

Smith mentioned she met most of her pals at Membership Q. Everyone seems to be devastated by the taking pictures, she mentioned.

“It impacts the entire gay community,” she mentioned.

Ren Kurgis, 25, who identifies as pansexual, transgender and nonbinary, stood alone earlier than the makeshift memorial.

“The only reason this happens is people are queer,” he mentioned as a tear fell. “Well, two reasons: People are queer, and other people suck.

“Five people are dead because of ignorance, hate and malice,” he mentioned.

As Kurgis walked away, he stopped to hug Elizabeth Stern, 39, who held an indication studying: “You are loved! Free mom hugs.”

Stern has a homosexual brother. She additionally misplaced a shipmate whereas within the Navy after he was outed and died by suicide, she mentioned.

“You can’t help who you are, and you should never be harmed for who you are,” she mentioned.

The attacker’s motive isn’t but clear, however authorities mentioned the taking pictures is being investigated as a hate crime.

The gunman, whom officers recognized as Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, opened fireplace simply earlier than midnight Saturday, police mentioned. He was shortly taken into custody when police arrived a couple of minutes after receiving a name, authorities mentioned.

One of many folks within the bar took a handgun from the shooter and hit him with it, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers mentioned in an interview with CNN. Suthers known as it an “incredible act of heroism.”

In an announcement, Membership Q termed the taking pictures a hate assault.

“Club Q is devastated by the senseless attack on our community,” the membership posted on its Fb web page. It mentioned its prayers had been with victims and households, including: “We thank the quick reactions of heroic customers that subdued the gunman and ended this hate attack.”

Siblings Sophie Aldinger, 23, and Abby Aldinger, 20, who grew up in Colorado Springs and each establish as nonbinary, mentioned Membership Q is a spot of affection and laughter — not one thing that’s at all times simple to seek out for LGBTQ folks in Colorado Springs.

They hope it survives.

“You can’t fight hate with hate,” Sophie mentioned. “You can only fight hate with love.”