A 22-year-old man who opened fire at an LGBTQIA+ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and killed five people was charged with 305 criminal counts, including hate charges.
District Attorney Michael Allen announced today that suspect Anderson Aldrich faces first and second-degree murder charges and bias-motivated crimes for the Nov. 19 shooting at Club Q Nightclub. The shooting, taking place at an LGBTQIA+ nightclub, has impacted the queer community at Howard University.
“The recent shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs is senseless, ridiculous, and sad. As an LGBTQ+ person, it is also very triggering. No one should treat anyone differently, speak to them negatively or harm them in any way based on how they identify,” Dr. Adrian Mayse, an associate professor of accounting, said.
The deceased include Daniel Aston, Raymond Green Vance, Kelly Lowing, Ashley Paugh and Derrick Rump. President Joe Biden responded to the tragedy in a statement.
“There is no place for violence, hatred and bigotry in America. Yet … too many LGBTQ+ people in the United States — and around the world — continue to face unconscionable attacks,” he said.
Aldrich used multiple firearms, including an AR-style rifle and handgun to carry out the attack. Richard Fierro, an army veteran, and Thomas James subdued the gunman shortly after he began shooting.
Club Q opened in 2002 and was a public entertainment source by hosting parties, drag shows, and karaoke nights. The attack occurred on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day that honors the lives of trans people who have died due to anti-trans violence and hatred. Dr. LaNail Plummer, a licensed counselor, the CEO of Onyx Therapy Group, a Howard University alumna and a member of the LGBTQIA+ community discussed the impact this type of shooting could have on Howard students who are a part of that community–especially those who are still struggling to define themselves.
“These murders and massacres that happen only expound that fear. It makes it even harder to connect with who you naturally are when folks who look like you are dying… . It just pushes them down even further into wanting to stay hidden in that process … so we have to be mindful of how we set up the entire culture of the university that becomes welcoming to all people,” Dr. Plummer said.
Howard University has always shown its support for everyone despite race, gender, or sexual orientation. The Howard University LGBTQ+ Advisory Council serves as an outlet for students and the school was ranked as the No. 1 HBCU for LGBTQ+ students by BestCollege.com earlier this year. Of supporting organizations students can join, Dr. Mayse recommends CASCADE, oSTEM, GLAAD, and Outlaw and the many events they host throughout the academic year.
Copy edited by Jadyn Barnett