The individuals who subdued a gunman after he opened fire at a LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs have been praised for their “incredible act of heroism” that prevented the tragedy that killed at least five people from being even worse.

The mayor of Colorado Springs, John Suthers, told CNN, one or two individuals in the club moved quickly to “subdue” the shooter.

Suthers said police were on the scene by 12:00am and the incident was over by 12.02am.

“That’s largely because of the intervention of at least one, possibly two, very heroic individuals who subdued this guy,” he said. “[They] appear to have taken his hand gun … and used it to disable him…not shoot him but hit him with the gun.”

“But for that, as tragic as this incident is, it’s a horrible crime, it could have been much, much worse but for these heroic actors.” Suthers said.

At least 25 people were also injured in the attack.

Colorado Springs nightclub shooting: ‘Our community is shattered’ – video

The suspected shooter, 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, is in custody, the chief of the Colorado Spring Police Department, Adrian Vasquez, said at a news conference Sunday morning.

Aldrich is alleged to have began shooting when he entered the club about 11.55pm Saturday, and Vazquez also said at least two patrons quickly confronted him and subdued him. “We owe them a great debt of thanks,” he said.

The motive for the attack was not immediately clear. Whether or not it was a hate crime is part of the investigation into the attack, Vasquez said.

Joe Biden issued a statement on Sunday in which the president said “we must drive out the inequities that contribute to violence against” the LGBTQ community.

“While no motive in this attack is yet clear, we know that the [LGBTQ] community has been subjected to horrific hate violence in recent years,” Biden said. “Gun violence continues to have a devastating and particular impact on [LGBTQ] communities across our nation and threats of violence are increasing.”

Club Q shooting map

Police said that at least two firearms were recovered on the scene, and that a long rifle was used during the shooting. Only one person appeared to be involved in the attack, the local district attorney Michael Allen said Sunday.

The New York Times reported that the attacker wore body armor, and he was firing a long gun in the style of an AR-15.

Nearly 40 police officers responded to calls for help from the club, officials added. For his part, Aldrich on Sunday was at a hospital being treated for injuries.

Among those injured, several were still in critical condition, hospital officials said Sunday. Five who were treated at Penrose hospital in Colorado Springs had injuries to their extremities, and two had been released, said William Plauth, the facility’s chief medical officer.

Ten people were being treated at UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central, said David Steinbruner, that facility’s chief medical officer.

Officials first said at least 18 people were wounded, though that number was increased after an update later in the day.

The attack – which the FBI is helping to investigate – took place at Club Q, a club that had a weekly drag show scheduled on Saturday evenings, according to an archived version of its website. A punk and alternative show was planned Saturday evening, followed by a birthday dance party starting at 11pm, according to the club’s Facebook page. Law enforcement officials described the club as a “safe haven” during a press briefing Sunday.

A drag brunch was scheduled for Sunday morning. Sunday is also the transgender day of remembrance, an annual observance since 1999 in honor of transgender people who were killed in acts of anti-transgender violence.

“Club Q is devastated by the senseless attack on our community. Our prayers and thoughts are with all the victims and their families and friends,” the club wrote on its Facebook page. “We thank the quick reactions of heroic customers that subdued the gunman and ended this hate attack.”

Local news reports show that someone with the same name and age as the suspect was arrested in 2021 and charged with two counts of felony menacing and three counts of first-degree kidnapping. His neighborhood was evacuated as part of a bomb scare after his mother reported that he was threatening to harm her with a homemade bomb.

The attack came amid growing fears of violence and intimidation toward drag queens. Those fears were sparked by Republicans who have targeted drag queens with legislation that would ban drag shows entirely, prohibit drag story hours at libraries that are meant to familiarize children with them, and bar minors from attending drag shows.

There is a history of attacks at LGBTQ venues in the US. In 2016, a gunman killed 49 people and wounded more than 50 a a gay nightclub in Orlando in one of the deadliest attacks in US history.

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