‘The community will be back’: Colorado governor visits gay club where 5 were slain

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis kneeling in front of a memorial to shooting victims
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis kneels in front of a memorial outside Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colo., where a gunman killed five people.
(Thomas Peipert / Associated Press)

Outside Club Q on Tuesday, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis solemnly walked along a line of flowers, crosses and signs bearing the photos and names of the people shot dead inside the LGBTQ venue.

When he reached the end, he picked up a piece of pink chalk, drew a heart and wrote, “We remember,” on the pavement in front of the memorial, which had been covered with tarps to protect it from snow until his arrival.

Five people are lost forever. We celebrate their lives. We mourn them,” Polis said while speaking to reporters afterward at the site.


Polis, who spoke earlier in the day to relatives of those killed as well as the injured, wore a gay pride ribbon pinned to the zipper of his puffy jacket. The Democrat, who in 2018 became the first out gay man elected governor in the U.S., said he was concerned about rhetoric associating mainly transgender people with grooming and pedophilia and feared that it could “inspire acts against the LGBTQ community.”

But he was also optimistic about the future of the club, a sanctuary for the LGBTQ community in the mostly conservative city of Colorado Springs (population 480,000), about 70 miles south of Denver.

“Club Q will be back, and the community will be back,” he said.

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An attacker opened fire Nov. 19 with a semi-automatic rifle inside the nightclub before being subdued by patrons and arrested by police who arrived within minutes, authorities have said.

The motive remains under investigation. The alleged gunman, Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, is being held without bond on suspicion of murder and hate crimes. Aldrich was arrested at the club after being stopped and beaten by patrons.

Later Tuesday, in a crowded brewery, Polis embraced Richard Fierro, the veteran hailed as a hero after tackling the shooter.

There was a festive atmosphere at Atrevida Beer, owned by Fierro, where patrons clutched pints of beer, a long line stretched across the room to the door and above the bar was printed a message: “Diversity, it’s on tap.”


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The gathering, at which Polis and the Colorado Springs mayor both made an appearance, was the manifestation of a catchphrase Fierro has repeated since the shooting: “Be nice, hug each other, take care of your neighbor.”

The hugs seemed contagious. Fierro squeezed Wyatt Kent, a drag queen whose 23rd birthday was being celebrated the night of the shooting, and chatted with his family.

Kent, whose drag name is Potted Plant, was still reeling from the horrific night. Kent remembered shots, then collapsing below Kelly Loving, who had been shot in the chest. Squeezing her hand as they asked Siri to call 911, Kent then held Loving’s head, repeating, “One more breath, just one more breath,” before paramedics arrived.

Tragically, Loving was among the five who died, along with Daniel Aston, with whom Kent was in a relationship. Aston had left strawberries, roses and a card for Kent’s birthday before he was killed.

Days after the horrific attack at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colo., little is still known about Anderson Aldrich, the suspect in the shooting that killed five. A motive remains unclear.

Nov. 23, 2022

Club Q’s community had been a steadfast support network, said Kent, one that has continued to aid in the community’s healing since the tragedy.

“If I pour myself out into others, they will pour themselves out back into me,” said Kent, “and that’s what this community has always done.”


The broader Colorado Springs community is pouring out support for the survivors, too. At his brewery, Fierro was honored with $50,000 from a local credit union.

“I’ve never had that much money in my life,” said an astonished Fierro, who reiterated that “everyone in [Club Q] was a hero.”

Matt Gendron, chief engagement officer at Ent Credit Union, one of whose employees was in Club Q that night, said that Fierro had “saved the lives of many people, including one of our family members.”