Five people died and at least 17 others were injured after a shooting inside the Club Q nightclub in Colorado Springs on Sunday, November 20, 2022. The mass shooting has sent shockwaves through LGBTQ+ communities across the nation, including in Montana.
Aishly Corrigan-Snider, the Vice President of the Great Falls LGBTQ+ Center, said that although the shooting happened states away, it still hits close to home for queer identifying residents of Montana, "Our response was one of sadness and then it turned to anger and outrage. There's just a sense of, can this happen here? Will it happen here? The sense of being afraid is very strong."
Reverend Stephen Underwood, a LGBTQ-friendly pastor with the Central Christian Church in Great Falls, fears that LGBTQ+ "safe spaces" are no longer safe: "It won't be safe as long as there's this prevailing narrative that we are a threat."
Rev. Underwood had planned to honor Transgender Day of Remembrance, celebrated on November 20th to honor transgender lives lost to violence, in his Sunday morning sermon. Instead, he awoke to the news of the deadly Colorado shooting. He stresses that words have consequences and very well could have been the catalyst for Saturday night's shooting,
"The way conversations have been going in this country, around the rhetoric of grooming and kind of a resurgence of anti-LGBTQ sentiment under the guise of protecting children. It was shocking but not surprising that that rhetoric has been festering and thriving in some area, and has actually lead to violence." Transgender people are four times more likely to be victims of violence than cisgender people are.
While words can be dangerous, Rev. Stephen and Aishly emphasize they also have the power to heal through allyship and support of marginalized communities. "It means having those tough conversations at the Thanksgiving table," the pastor says.
Those looking for support, or even just a conversation, in light of the tragedy in Colorado Springs can find more information about Rev. Stephen's church here. The Great Falls LGBTQ+ center is an open resource for members of the community. Aishly says the best way to reach them during non-business hours is through their Facebook page.
The suspect has been identified as Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22 years old, of Colorado Springs. Aldrich, who identifies as non-binary according to court documents filed by their public defender, was moved from a hospital to the El Paso County Jail Tuesday afternoon.
Richard Fierro and another man, identified by the Colorado Springs mayor as Thomas James, subdued the suspect before anyone else was killed or injured.
According to KOAA in Colorado Springs, Aldrich was arrested for investigation of 10 charges, including first-degree murder and bias-motivated crime, but he has not been formally charged yet. He was released from the hospital on Tuesday and will be booked into the El Paso County jail. Aldrich will make his first appearance at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, the Colorado State Court Administrator’s Office said.
Police have not yet determined a motive behind the shooting, but Q Club staff and some people in the community feel they were targeted in the attack. Investigators are looking into whether there were possible bias-motivated reasons behind the shooting as part of the investigation, officials said this week.
KMGH in Denver provided the following information about the five people who were killed.
Daniel Aston, 28
Daniel Aston was 28 years old and worked as a bartender at Club Q. His mother told ABC News that Daniel "was our baby and he was our youngest. He had an older brother and they were 18 years apart.”
She said Daniel moved to Colorado from Oklahoma and within a week made many friends because that's the type of personality he had.
A friend of Aston's said he was strong and proud.
"Unapologetic, this is who I am and you can adjust or not — that’s the kind of person he was," Greg Charter said. "It’s just devastating to know that he, too, passed because of this event."
Raymond Green Vance, 22
Raymond Green Vance was 22 years old. He was born in Chicago but spent most of his life in Colorado Springs. He was a 2018 graduate of Sand Creek High School where his mother describes him as a popular, well-liked young man who never got into any trouble and had plenty of friends.
Raymond went to Club Q to enjoy a show with his longtime girlfriend, her parents, and her parents' friends. They were celebrating a birthday, according to a family statement. Raymond spent most of his spare time with his girlfriend, whom he had been with since middle school.
Raymond was supportive of the LGBTQ community but not a member of it, his family said.
"Raymond was a kind, selfless young adult with his entire life ahead of him. His closest friend describes him as gifted, one-of-a-kind, and willing to go out of his way to help anyone. He had just gotten a new job at a Colorado Springs FedEx distribution center, and was thrilled to have received his first paycheck. He couldn't wait to save enough money to get his own apartment, but in the meantime he lived with his mother and younger brother who adored him," a family statement says.
Kelly Loving, 40
Kelly Loving was 40 years old. Her sister said Kelly had a big heart.
“My condolences go out to all the families who lost someone in this tragic event, and to everyone struggling to be accepted in this world. My sister was a good person. She was loving and caring and sweet. Everyone loved her. Kelly was a wonderful person," said Tiffany Loving.
Ashley Paugh, 35
Ashley Paugh's husband, Kurt Paugh, said in a statement Monday afternoon that his wife meant everything to their family.
"We can’t even begin to understand what it will mean to not have her in our lives," he said.
He said Ashley was his high school sweetheart, and she loved outdoor activities, like hunting, fishing and riding four-wheelers.
She was also an amazing mother, he said.
"Her daughter was her whole world, and she was so proud of Ryleigh, who is a championship swimmer," Kurt said. "She loved her dad, her sister, and her family; Ashley was a loving aunt, with many nieces and nephews who are devastated by her loss."
Ashley worked at Kids Crossing, a nonprofit that helped foster children find loving homes.
"She would do anything for the kids – traveling all over southeastern Colorado, from Pueblo and Colorado Springs to Fremont County and the Colorado border, working to raise awareness and encourage individuals and families to become foster parents to children in our community," Kurt said. "This included working with the LGBTQ community to find welcoming foster placements for children," the family statement says.
Derrick Rump, 38
Derrick Rump was 38 years old and worked as a bartender at Club Q. Friends described Rump as loving and friendly. He was well-known and well-liked by Club Q patrons.
"He was friendly, loving. He got along with everybody. He was the resident bartender. Everyone knew him. Everyone loved him and he loved everybody," a friend of Derrick's said.