Editor’s Note: This is breaking news and will be updated with new information throughout the day.
A gunman entered an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado on Saturday night and opened fire, killing five people and injuring 18 others. The shooter is in police custody.
Although the shooter’s motive is not yet known, the attack at Club Q in Colorado Springs coincided with that Rise in anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, legislation, harassment and violence in the US.
At least two clubgoers confronted the attacker, who was armed with a long gun and at least one other firearm, and managed to overpower him Adrian Vasquez, Colorado Springs Police Chief. “We owe them a great debt of gratitude,” he said.
The victims have not yet been publicly identified and the condition of the 18 injured is unknown. The attacker is being treated for injuries, although Lt. Pamela Castro of the Colorado Springs Police Department said She didn’t know what those injuries entailed.
Police received a call at 11:57 p.m Castro described the shooting and was at the scene within five minutes. Attorney General Merrick Garland was informed of the incident Associated Pressand the The FBI has offered to help to the Colorado Springs Police Department in the investigation.
“Club Q is devastated by the senseless attack on our community,” the nightclub wrote in a Facebook post. “Our prayers [sic] and thoughts are with all the victims and their families and friends. Thank you to the quick responses from heroic customers who overwhelmed the shooter and ended this hate attack.”
authorities do not qualified the attack as a hate crime; such a charge depends at a minimum on the motive of the attacker and whether the offense was committed “on the basis of the perceived or actual race, colour, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, sex, gender identity or disability of the victim” at the national level . Colorado law states that bias need only be part of the attacker’s motivation, specifically outlines sexuality but not gender identity as one of the classifications for a hate crime.
Club Q’s Facebook page promoted a punk drag show and birthday party on Saturday night; Drag Queen Del LunaionalHe, who was performing that night, described the experience on Twitter: “I never thought something like this would happen to me and my bar. I don’t know what to do with myself. I can’t stop hearing the gunshots.”
The shooter committed the attack the night before Trans Memorial Dayan annual memorial service commemorating transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming people killed in anti-trans attacks.
The attack echoes recent incidents of anti-LGBTQ violence
It also follows several Attacks on LGBTQ people and institutions in recent years, including a summer of 2021 spate of attacks on queer and non-binary people near the Happyfun Hideaway bar in Brooklyn, New York. In April, a man set fire to another Bushwick gay bar, Rash.
The Colorado Springs attack has echoes of this Pulse nightclub shoot in Orlando, Florida, where a gunman who had sworn allegiance to the Islamic State broke into the club during its Latino Night and carried out a killing spree that killed 49 and wounded 53. The 2016 shooting is the deadliest single attack on LGBTQ people in US history. It was also the deadliest mass shooting in the country at the time.
Colorado in particular has witnessed multiple mass shootings over the past 25 years, beginning with the Columbine High School shootings in 1999. At the national level, lawmakers have failed to contain the national epidemic mass shootings, despite their sustained intensity and lethality. Mass shootings at schools including Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida and most recently Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, have claimed the lives of dozens of teenagers and young children.
LGBTQ rights are at stake in the current political climate
Republicans have ramped up anti-LGBTQ policies and rhetoric in recent years, particularly towards trans people. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation into law earlier this year Preventing public school teachers from speaking to students in kindergarten through third grade about gender identity or sexuality, “or in a manner that is not age- or developmentally appropriate for students under state standards,” the law says.
DeSantis has also approved a measure banning Medicaid patients from using the service to access gender-affirming healthcare. This legislation will affect more than 9,000 trans-Floridans who use Medicaid as their primary health plan, according to a statement from the human rights campaign.
in texas, Republican lawmakers have pursued policies targeting transgender children, particularly parents providing gender-affirming care to their children. In March, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an order to the state health authorities consider gender-affirming care to be “child abuse” and instruct teachers and healthcare providers to report parents seeking such care to the Department for Family and Protection Services. This policy is contrary to medical science.
By extension, Republicans legislatures in several states have curtailed or attempted to curtail the rights of LGBTQ people, which Democrats and LGBTQ advocates say indicates possible rollbacks at the national level.
To this end, the Senate, including 12 Republicans, has voted to advance the Respect for Marriage Act, which would protect the marriages of LGBTQ couples and repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The amended bill is expected to be sent back to the House of Representatives for a vote after the Thanksgiving holiday before final Senate approval.