– Authorities said they are investigating Saturday’s mass shooting at a Colorado Springs nightclub, which left five dead and at least 25 injured, through the lens of a hate crime.
The suspect, identified as Anderson Lee Aldrich, a 22-year-old man, immediately began shooting as he entered Club Q, an LGBTQ nightclub, local police told media.
Two patrons “tackled” the perpetrator and several pinned him to the ground before officers arrived at 12:02 am (1902 GMT) Sunday morning local time, police said.
Club Q “is devastated by the senseless attack on our community,” the club said in a statement posted on its Facebook page, describing the shooting as a “hate attack.”
Police said they are also investigating the shooting through the “lens” of a hate crime, but would first seek other charges, such as first-degree murder, The Denver Post, a major Colorado newspaper, reported.
While expressing their condolences for the victims and their families, social networks across the United States condemned hate crimes and their uprising against minorities and the gay community.
“This is horrible, disgusting and devastating,” Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, the first openly gay governor in US history, said in a statement issued Sunday.
A study, conducted by Hate Free Colorado (HFC) and released last month, said that in the past five years, three in 10 Coloradans experienced a hate crime and that “the majority of those crimes go unreported.”
“Coloradans of all backgrounds are experiencing hate crime and bias-motivated incidents, including Black and Latino, Asian, White, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Catholic and more,” added the study, which analyzed data from 5,000 residents. Colorado between May and July.
He said 61 percent of those who said they experienced bias or a hate crime attributed it to their race, ethnicity or ancestry. This means that ethnic minority groups are 1.5 to two times as likely as white Coloradans to experience hate crimes, the HFC study found.
In 2016, a gay-hating gunman killed 49 partygoers and injured 53 more before he was fatally shot by police at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, one of the deadliest mass shootings in the History of The United States.
The Club Q shooting brought back traumatic memories for the families of the victims and survivors of the Pulse shooting, USA Today reported on Sunday.
“From Pulse to Colorado Springs and so many other lives that have been taken from us, this has been going on for far too long,” Human Rights Campaign incoming president Kelley Robinson said in a statement to USA Today.
“Mothers, fathers, siblings and children, I mean entire communities are affected,” he said. “They are in for a horrible rest of their lives… We have created hell for another group of Americans,” Robinson added.
Colorado Springs police said Sunday they were still investigating the attacker’s motive, including whether it was a hate attack. Police said two firearms, including a long gun, were recovered at the scene. The FBI is assisting the local police in the investigation. ■