Among the dead at the Colorado club, its self-proclaimed ‘Master of Silly Business’

Colorado gay club shooting victim Daniel Aston
Daniel Aston was one of five people killed when a gunman opened fire in a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Saturday night.
(Courtesy of Jeff Aston)

On a typical night at Club Q, a bastion for LGBTQ people in the largely conservative city of Colorado Springs, Daniel Aston could be seen letting loose and sliding across the stage on his knees, tailed by his mullet, to whoops and hollers.

The venue provided Aston, a 28-year-old transgender man and the self-proclaimed “Master of Silly Business,” with the liberating performances he had long sought. But on Saturday, the club became the site of the latest mass shooting in the U.S. when a gunman with a semi-automatic rifle opened fire and killed Aston and four others. Twenty-five others were injured.

Aston’s mother, Sabrina Aston, vacillated between past and present tense as she discussed her son Sunday night in their Colorado Springs home. Aston’s father, Jeff Aston, sat nearby listening to his wife’s stories and alternating between tightly clasping his hands and cupping his forehead.


Colorado Authorities said Sunday that a gunman who opened fire at a gay nightclub in Colorado — killing five and injuring 25 — was subdued by “heroic” patrons who hit him with his own gun.

Nov. 20, 2022

“We are in shock, we cried for a little bit, but then you go through this phase where you are just kind of numb, and I’m sure it will hit us again,” she said. “I keep thinking it’s a mistake, they made a mistake, and that he is really alive.”

Her son’s eagerness to make people laugh and cheer started as a child in Tulsa, Okla., when he would don elaborate costumes, including as the Beast from “Beauty and the Beast,” cycle through weird hats and write plays acted out by neighborhood kids.

Aston preferred dressing as a boy at a young age until teasing from other kids pushed him to try girls’ clothing. While Sabrina Aston enjoyed helping style her son, she said the switch led to weight loss. “He was miserable,” she said.

After coming out to his mother, he attended Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla., and became president of its LGBTQ club. He put on fundraisers with ever-more flashy productions — “he didn’t just stand and lip-sync,” Sabrina Aston made clear.

A gunman opened fire shortly before midnight at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, killing five and injuring 25. A suspect was subdued and is in custody.

Nov. 20, 2022


Two years ago, Aston moved from Tulsa to Colorado Springs, where his parents had settled, and started at Club Q as a bartender and entertainer. His parents would join in the cheers at his shows.

His mother said that Aston’s shows were great. “He lit up a room, always smiling, always happy and silly,” she said.

Members of Colorado Spring’s LGBTQ community say Club Q has been one of only a few havens where they could be fully themselves in one of the state’s more conservative metropolitan areas. Sabrina Aston said that’s why her son took to the club: It gave his identity room to breathe, and “he liked helping the LGBT community.”

Anderson Lee Aldrich appears to have little social media footprint. But the suspect in the Colorado Springs mass shooting appears connected to earlier arrest.

Nov. 21, 2022

She first heard about the attack, and that her son had been shot, when the phone rang at 2 a.m. Sunday. It was one of her son’s friends breaking the news that a shooting had occurred at Club Q and that Aston was in Memorial Hospital.

Sabrina and Jeff Aston rushed to the hospital, where they were first asked to wait outside, then in a waiting room and finally in a private room where a detective asked them questions as authorities worked to identify the bodies.

Sabrina Aston told the detective about her son’s tattoos, including a heart on his left arm, pierced by an arrow and wrapped in a ribbon reading “Mom.”

Aston’s parents were sent home without any update and sat in a stupor, their minds cycling through hope, then the worst, then hope that it wasn’t the worst.

“We thought he had just gotten hurt — you can fix hurt,” his mother said.

When a detective and a patient advocate knocked on their door later that morning, Sabrina Aston said she thought of the soldiers walking towards the homes of yet-unaware widows during wartime. She knew what had happened.

The parents went into shock, and the tears flowed.

“It’s just a nightmare that you can’t wake up from,” she said.