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This story originally appeared in Common Dreams on Nov. 20, 2022. It is shared here under a Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0) license.
A mass shooting that killed at least five people and injured at least 18 late Saturday at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado will be investigated as a hate crime, a local district attorney told reporters Sunday.
“This will be investigated and is being investigated in that lens,” Michael Allen, the district attorney for Colorado’s 4th Judicial District, said, adding that authorities will consider a number of factors before charging the suspect with a hate crime. Police have not yet described a motive for the shooting.
The FBI is assisting in investigating the shooting.
A shooter, who was identified as 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, reportedly entered Club Q shortly before midnight wearing body armor and armed with an AR-15 style assault rifle. Police said a “long rifle” was used in the shooting and at least two firearms were found at the scene.
On Sunday morning at least two injured victims were in critical condition.
Police said the suspect was subdued by at least two patrons at the club, who stopped him from shooting more people.
According to The New York Times, “someone with the same name and age as the suspect was arrested by sheriff’s deputies last year after a bomb threat in a residential area just outside Colorado Springs. The man’s mother told officials that he was threatening to hurt her with a homemade bomb, weapons, and ammunition, the sheriff’s office said at the time.”
The shooting took place the night before Club Q was planning to join LGBTQ+ communities and groups around the world in marking the Transgender Day of Remembrance. The club had been planning to hold an “all ages drag brunch” on Sunday.
According to the Crowd Counting Consortium, a project run by professors at Harvard University and University of Connecticut which documents “political crowds in public spaces,” drag shows and other events featuring drag performers have been increasingly targeted by right-wing attacks this year.
In September, the group “logged more than 40 actions targeting these events, including at least 15 so far” that month.
“As we mark Transgender Day of Remembrance and mourn and remember the trans people who were taken from us far too soon, we must recommit ourselves to the work of ending gun violence, transphobia, and homophobia in our country and saluting the resilience of trans people everywhere,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA).
Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), chair of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, noted that “deadly violence against members of our community is sadly not new.”
“We know the toxic combination of hate and access to guns in this country leads to deadly results,” said Cicilline. “We must honor the lives lost in this shooting and all LGBTQ+ lives lost due to violence with action—action to address the twin epidemics of hate and gun violence in this country.”