A duo of heroes—an Army veteran and a drag performer—prized open a door at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ club over the weekend, stopping a gunman from killing or wounding more people.
A man armed with a handgun opened fire at Club Q in downtown San Jose late Saturday, killing at least five people and wounding 18 others, police said.
Club Q, on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, was allegedly shot at with a long rifle by Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22.
Richard Fierro doesn’t know whether the Club Q shooter was firing at the time or about to fire, but he ran toward him anyway.
“I just knew I had to take him down.”
In the wake of the shooting, Richard M. Fierro is being hailed as one of the courageous individuals who sprang into action to stop the murderer. But sadly, his daughter’s boyfriend, Raymond Green Vance, was killed when the assailant initially fired.
In an interview with The New York Times, Fierro, owner of Atrevida Beer Co., a local brewery, remembered taking down the gunman.
“I don’t know exactly what I did, I just went into combat mode,” Fierro told The Times. “I just know I have to kill this guy before he kills us.”
Fierro was at the nightclub to support his daughter’s prom date, who was performing that night, when a gunman opened fire, killing him and six other people.
My God, Richard M. Fierro is a goddamn hero.
An Army veteran and officer, and an LGBTQ ally, Fierro told the NY Times that supporting the rights and freedoms of people “to do whatever the hell they want” is the reason he fought for our country. Wow.pic.twitter.com/XwoUcFOTux
— Vic Vela (@VicVela1) November 22, 2022
He immediately fell to the ground when shots were fired, ensuring that he pulled down a friend with him. While on the ground, he saw the gunman moving from the bar to a patio filled with customers who had escaped.
I grabbed a piece of his body armor and tackled the shooter, Fierro said.
“I don’t know if he was shooting or about to shoot, but I had to take him down,” said the witness.
Upon reaching the gunman, who weighs roughly 300 pounds, Fierro noticed that his rifle was out of reach. Fierro also noticed that the gunman’s pistol was in addition to his rifle.
In trying to take the weapon away from the man, Fierro said, he just kept whacking the man on the head over and over.
When he heard someone else shouting for help, he said he cried out as well.
During the shooting, a drag performer stomped on the shooter with her high heels, according to Fierro. When authorities arrived, Fierro became concerned that the shooter was dead because he had stopped moving. The gunman was arrested and hospitalized. He was still in the hospital as of Monday afternoon. Police handcuffed Fierro and placed him in the back of a police vehicle after they arrived at the scene because he was bloody. He told The Times that he was in there for more than an hour, shouting to be let out so he could check on his family.
Authorities in Colorado Springs said “heroic” patrons stopped a shooter at a gay nightclub.
Fierro, a Bronze Star recipient, said he thought, “I was done with war,” after leaving the military nearly ten years ago until Saturday night. Club Q co-owner Nic Grzecka was shown a photograph of Fierro, and they concurred that Fierro appeared to be the person who took down the criminal. Grzecka told The Times that she didn’t even know the man’s name and that she would like to meet him.
Fierro told the Washington Post that he had to intervene because he had all his Colorado Springs family members present. He was not going to let him kill his family.
“People need to care for those who are wounded and no longer with us,” he said. “My two best friends are still in the hospital, and they still require prayer and support.”
Fierro has now been praised by many for saving “dozens and dozens of lives.”
Club Q co-owner Matthew Haynes said during a vigil on Sunday night that Fierro, “stopped the man cold. Everyone else was running away and he ran toward him.” Meanwhile, Colorado Springs mayor John Suthers described Fierro as “a real hero.”
Washington Post also reported that the young clubgoer and the drag queen helped after Fierro told them of the gunman, “Kick him!”
He said the young man who moved the rifle out of reach saved him from being shot.
Jessica Fierro used the Atrevida Facebook page, Fierro’s wife, to express her disgust at the “horrifying sequence of events.”
“Beginning, Jessica expressed her dismay at the terrible events. ‘We had a blast at Club Q Colorado Springs to celebrate another good friend’s birthday.’ That is why we were so devastated to learn what happened there,” she said.
When shots rang out, it was absolute havoc. It was terrifying.
Our best friends were both shot multiple times as we tried to escape. Kassy hurt her knee as she ran for cover. I bruised the right side of my body and Rich injured both his hands, knees, and ankle as he apprehended the shooter. He was covered in blood. We are all recovering well, fortunately. No one, not even a witness to such bloodshed, should ever have to see it again.
“We are devastated and torn as a family and as a brewery after the loss of Raymond, who was a member of our family for many years.
Ricgard described Raymond Green Vance, Kassy’s boyfriend, as “family” when speaking to The Denver Channel. He noted that he attended Raymond’s football games, sitting with his mother and little brother, both wonderful people.
He said that two of their greatest friends are currently recovering in the hospital.
“I have no shame with any of this,” he said. “I support my community, whoever that is. I love everybody and I have never said anything different.”
Colorado Springs Police Department Lieutenant Pamela Castro said late Saturday night that police received numerous 911 calls about the mass shooting at Club Q.
Numerous individuals were transported to local hospitals after the incident, Castro said. One person who was injured and treated at a nearby hospital is currently in custody, she added.
Club Q expressed its deep sorrow at the ‘attack on our community and offered condolences to the victims and their families.
The Times cited court records reporting that Aldrich is now facing five counts of murder and hate-crime-related assault, for which he has not yet hired legal counsel.