What we know about the victims in Colorado Springs: 'Master of Silly Business,' a 'good listener'
Family and friends began remembering the victims killed this weekend at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs. Here's what we know.Both were transplants to Colorado from other states.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — With the sun set over Colorado’s Front Range, the darkened Colorado Springs strip mall that has long been home to Club Q glowed with the flicker of candles and flashes of news cameras Sunday night.
Couples holding hands and parents with babies bundled in fleece blankets shuffled along where a makeshift memorial of cellophane-wrapped flowers and handwritten notes had been steadily growing outside the gay and lesbian club since early Sunday.
Authorities said a 22-year-old gunman opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle inside the Colorado Springs nightclub Saturday night, killing five people and leaving 25 injured. 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.
'There's blood on your hands': Anti-LGBTQ rhetoric surged ahead of Club Q shooting
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According to authorities, he was later subdued by “heroic” patrons and arrested by police who arrived within minutes.
Shianna Ray, 27, said that as members of Colorado Springs’ LGBTQ+ community, she and her girlfriend, Kasside Butterfass, 27, wanted to come by and show their support for Club Q Sunday night. By then, it has been nearly 12 hours since the couple awoke to a flurry of calls and text messages.
Ray — who frequented Club Q and used to go-go dance there — said she knew two people who were in the club at the time of the shooting. They both survived.
When news of the shooting broke, Butterfass said one thought came to mind: “Why?”
5 dead, 25 injured in shooting at LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs: Live updates
At least five people were killed and more than a dozen injured in a shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, police said. Live updates.At least two people at Club Q confronted the shooter, who was using a "long rifle," and prevented him from injuring others, Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said.
CLUB Q SHOOTING LATEST: 'Heroic' patrons subdued attacker during deadly Colorado LGBTQ nightclub attack
Tyrice Kelley, center right, a performer at Club Q, is comforted during a service held at All Souls Unitarian Church following an overnight fatal shooting at the gay nightclub, in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022.
A bouquet of flowers is left near Club Q, an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on November 20, 2022. - At least five people were killed and 18 wounded in a mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in the US city of Colorado Springs, police said on November 20, 2022.
Joshua Thurman, of Colorado Springs, reacts the morning after a mass shooting at Club Q, an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on November 20, 2022. - Thurman was in the club at the time of the shooting. At least five people were killed and 18 wounded in a mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in the US city of Colorado Springs, police said on November 20, 2022.
A Colorado Springs Community Service officer speaks with Jace Khosla, of Pueblo, Colorado, the morning after a mass shooting at Club Q, an LGBTQ nightclub, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on November 20, 2022. - At least five people were killed and 18 wounded in a mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in the US city of Colorado Springs, police said on November 20, 2022.
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Bouquets of flowers and a sign reading "Love Over Hate" are left near Club Q, an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on November 20, 2022. - At least five people were killed and 18 wounded in a mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in the US city of Colorado Springs, police said on November 20, 2022.
Jessy Smith Cruz embraces Jadzia Dax McClendon the morning after a mass shooting at Club Q, an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on November 20, 2022. - At least five people were killed and 18 wounded in a mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in the US city of Colorado Springs, police said on November 20, 2022.
Blood stained clothing is seen on the ground near Club Q, an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on November 20, 2022. - At least five people were killed and 18 wounded in a mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in the US city of Colorado Springs, police said on November 20, 2022.
Former Colorado Springs resident Terry Miles also made her way to Club Q Sunday night, laying one of the few bouquets of flowers she could find at a local Trader Joe’s on the memorial’s growing mound.
Police say LGBTQ club shooter used 'long rifle' and acted alone: What we know about the attacker and Colorado gun laws
El Paso County District Attorney Michael Allen said investigators were looking into whether the attack should be prosecuted as a hate crime. But charges against the suspect “will likely include first-degree murder,” he said.Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning. The shooting rekindled memories of the 2016 massacre at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that killed 49 people. Colorado has experienced several mass killings, including at Columbine High School in 1999, a movie theater in suburban Denver in 2012, and at a Boulder supermarket last year.
“I just don’t know if I have any words right now. Just emotions,” Miles said.
One of the mourners who visited a makeshift memorial at the scene of the attack, Joseph Reininger, has lived in Colorado Springs since 1972 and said he brought flowers because he supports the LGBTQ-plus community.
"They are sweet people and I come to the Q for the drag shows. I love the people," Reininger said.
"It (shooting) makes me feel angry along with sadness,'' he said. "Even though it is not determined yet, I am sure that mainstream conservative Christianity had something to do with this. Colorado Springs is sort of a hotbed for that — a conservative community. Although it has changed over the years, we still have a long way to go."
Michael Travis, wearing a state of Texas police chaplain's uniform, visited the scene to play taps "Taps" on a trumpet. "We all feel shock and grief, so I came out to comfort everybody," Travis said.
Travis said he has visited Club Q often and "this is a fantastic place that makes it safe for everybody in the LGBTQ-plus community. It was a place where you could come and forget about work and it was a home to everyone."
Club Q attack no surprise for extremism experts who saw looming threat, decades-old pattern
Extremism researchers say they see it happen over and over: The far right unites against a community until that community gets attacked.Experts who monitor the far right have watched for months as public aggression toward the LGBTQ community, in general, and the transgender population, in particular, has ramped up.
"We are not even safe in our own home. Hopefully this is an isolated incident," Travis added.
'WHEN WILL IT STOP?': LGBTQ community, Pulse survivors react to Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs
'Every LGBTQ parents' worst nightware'
Among those paying their respects outside Club Q on Sunday afternoon was Colleen Bunkers, who wore a sign around her neck that read: "Free hugs from the mom of a trans son. We love you."
She said her son, now 23, has been coming to the club since he was 18, but was at home when the shooting erupted. Bunkers said she had shared at least 15 hugs with those at the memorial.
"I want them to know they have been through so much to get where they are and they don't need this on top of it,'' she said. "They are loved, precious and we care."
Bunkers said her son recently moved back to Colorado Springs because he felt it would be safe, and to have this happen "is every LGBTQ parents' worst nightmare.'' Still, she remained resolute.
"I taught him to be confident and love is the answer," Bunkers said. "We are not going to let this craziness win."
'Tired of running out of places where we can exist safely'
Colorado Springs, a city of about 480,000 located 70 miles (112 kilometers) south of Denver, is home to the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Olympic Training Center, as well as Focus on the Family, a prominent evangelical Christian ministry that lobbies against LGBTQ rights. The group condemned the shooting and said it “exposes the evil and wickedness inside the human heart.”
Seth Stang was buying flowers for the memorial when he was told that two of the dead were his friends. The 34-year-old transgender man said it was like having “a bucket of hot water getting dumped on you. ... I’m just tired of running out of places where we can exist safely.”
Ryan Johnson, who lives near the club and was there last month, said it was one of only two nightspots for the LGBTQ community in conservative-leaning Colorado Springs. “It’s kind of the go-to for pride,” the 26-year-old said of the club, which is tucked behind other businesses, including a bowling alley and a sandwich shop.
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY NETWORK: Colorado Springs community mourns Club Q shooting victims: 'We all feel shock and grief'
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