Army veteran gives account of tackling Colorado Springs gunman
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A video purporting to show Colorado Springs shooting suspect Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, during a bomb threat encounter with police has surfaced.
Mr Aldrich was named as the suspect in the mass shooting at an LGBT+ nightclub in Colorado Springs on Saturday which left at least five people dead and over a dozen people injured.
The gunman has been charged with five counts of murder and five counts of bias-motivated crimes causing bodily injury, which are class-5 felony charges.
It was also revealed that Mr Aldrich, 22, is the grandson of Republican Assemblyman Randy Voepel of California. Mr Voepel espouses MAGA ideology and called the Capitol riot — the “Lexington and Concord” battle of the American Revolution.
The suspect was arrested in June 2021 after his mother told officers that he was threatening her with a homemade bomb and other weapons.
Colorado prosecutors declined to explicitly confirm the connection, saying only that the incident in 2021 was “all part of the investigation and will be released as appropriate”.
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Drag queen in heels helped army veteran subdue gunman
A former Army captain tackled the 22-year-old gunman who opened fire on an LGBT+ nightclub in Colorado Springs and beat the suspect unconscious as a drag queen in heels stomped on him.
Richard Fierro, 45, told the New York Times he was with family and friends at Club Q on Saturday night when the suspect burst in and began spraying the club with automatic gunfire.“I just knew I had to take him down,” Mr Fierro said.
As the army veteran shouted at others for help, he said that a patron moved the gunman’s rifle out of reach and a drag dancer began stomping on the suspect with her high heels.
Alisha Rahaman Sarkar22 November 2022 05:30
MTG criticised for non-sequitur response
Far right Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene has been criticised for her response to the shooting, my colleague John Bowden in Washington DC reports.
Ms Greene’s two-tweet thread addressing the attack did not address the significance of the target, nor the wave of hate that right-wing political figures have directed at LGBT+ people and transgender Americans in particular over the past few years.
But what did raise some fury from left-leaning users on the platform was her choice to attack Mr Biden over the issue of fentanyl deaths and immigration in her response – rather a non-sequitur when the alleged shooter is a white American with family ties to a Republican state legislator.
Incidentally, the attack was stopped by a Hispanic former Army major who happily defines himself as an “immigrant”.
Io Dodds22 November 2022 05:30
‘The anti-trans hate machine’
A journalist who studies how right-wing politicians and media outlets whip up hate against transgender people says the Colorado Springs shooting was a “natural result” of current conservative rhetoric.
In an interview with The Independent earlier today, Imara Jones, the head of TransLash Media and a former Clinton Administration aide, said the groundwork for the attack had been laid by a vast “anti-trans hate machine” fuelled by big conservative donors.
“There is an interlocking network of money, politicians, nonprofit organisations, think tanks, and media organisations, both online and offline, that are working to fuel anti-trans hate in this country as part of a larger white supremacist enterprise,” said Ms Jones.
She described how hard-right think tanks such as the Family Research Council and the Alliance Defending Freedom propagate “copy and paste” bills attempting to restrict trans rights across multiple states.
That in turn allows local politicians to turn trans rights into a cause célèbre, Ms Jones said, while friendly media outlets portray trans people as a threat to women, children, and traditional family values.
Together, she argued, these forces combine to galvanise extremist groups, stoking an atmosphere of paranoia and panic that can spur them to take direct action.
“It’s easier to minimise it and to dismiss it and to say that it’s [just] lone individuals who are disturbed, when the opposite is true,” she said. “There’s this entire subculture… it’s not an accident. Again, it is a natural consequence.”
Io Dodds22 November 2022 04:19
Suspect ‘had no relationship’ with his GOP politician grandfather
Sources close to California state legislator Randy Voepel have confirmed that he is the grandson of the Colorado shooting suspect, according to KCRA 3.
They added that the 72-year-old assemblyman had not tried to interfere in the investigation into alleged bomb threats by Mr Aldrich last year.
Randy Voepel sports a MAGA hat. He is the grandfather of mass shooting suspect Anderson Lee Aldrich
(Randy Voepel/ Twitter)
Mr Voepel has received death threats and calls to resign since Saturday night’s attack, although he cannot do the latter because he lost his seat in the midterm elections.
He has not yet made any official comment.
Io Dodds22 November 2022 03:14
‘I’m just some dude. That’s it.’
Richard Fierro concluded his interview with these somber words:
“Those five people didn’t make it home. I apologise to them. I wish I could have saved everybody in there. I wish I could have done more. Okay?
“But those people aren’t home tonight. I am. And I’m really upset by that. It’s not something I’m proud of. So please, point at those victims. All five of them deserve more than anyone standing here right now. I’m just some dude. That’s it.”
Io Dodds22 November 2022 02:20
‘My family was everybody in that room’
In his interview just now, Richard Fierro came off as passionate, outspoken, and self-effacing, with an intense devotion to his community.
“I just knew I needed to save my family,” he told reporters. “And that family was, at that time, everybody in that room. And that’s what I was trained to do. I saw him and I went and got him.
“When I pulled him down, I told him: I wanna kill you, guy. I’m gonna f***ing kill you – ” He paused for a moment to apologise for swearing. “He killed a family member. I’m an emotional guy but I try and be strong for my family.”
One reporter asked him what element of his military training allowed him to rise to the moment, and he said: “Come on, man. It’s the reflex. Right? It’s the reflex: go! Go to the fire. Stop the action. Stop the activity. Don’t let no one get hurt. I tried to bring everybody back.”
When a reporter addressed him as Major, he interrupted: “Don’t call me Major. I am retired. I’m proud of my service, but I’m just rich. I’m a civilian.” (Our previous description of him as a former captain was incorrect.)
Describing his background, he said: “My mom and dad fought real hard to work hard. My dad was a carpenter. Two words: soy immigrante [I am an immigrant].
“I’m a family of immigrants. My mother in law – everybody’s an immigrant. And I’m a rapist or whatever?” The last part was sarcasm, seemingly in reference to Donald Trump’s infamous claim in 2015 that Mexico was sending “rapists” to the USA.
Asked how he left the army, he said: “The four tours broke me down, man. I’m a big kid. It’s hard for me to stay in shape, it broke me down. So I was done. I couldn’t go anymore. I couldn’t keep up. I couldn’t go anymore.”
Io Dodds22 November 2022 01:55
Richard Fierro: ‘Listen, I’m not a hero’
Club Q hero Richard Fierro just gave an amazing interview to reporters, saying he “wasn’t thinking” and operated on pure “instinct” when he tackled the shooter.
“I gotta kill this guy,” he says, remembering his thinking during the incident. “He’s gonna kill my kid. He’s gonna kill my wife…
“Listen, I’m not a hero. There’s real heroes out there. Right? I hope people that really want to be a hero go do that. Alright? Achieve it. I hope my daughter is a hero.
“I’m not a hero. I’m just some dude – we’re just punk kids from San Diego trying to make it, man.”
He added: “I’m straight, my kids are straight. But we go there, we patronise [the club] with them. Why? Because it’s about community. It’s about providing money back into theri system. Everybody needs to survive out here. I love every one of them.”
Io Dodds22 November 2022 01:29
Police must use Colorado’s red flag law, says mayor
The mayor of Colorado Springs has given a coded rebuke to the county sheriff’s department which has declared its opposition to the state’s red flag law.
Sheriffs in El Paso, where the shooting suspect was previously arrested in June 2021, have declared their county a “Second Amendment Sanctuary” and banned officers from filing red flag petitions except in special circumstances.
“My view of the red flag law is that it was passed by the legislature, it is law in Colorado, and law enforcement agencies in appropriate circumstances should take advantage of it and utilise it,” said city mayor John Suthers.
But he went on: “I would caution against an assumption that circumstances in this case would lead to an application of the red flag law. We don’t know that, and I would caution against any conclusion either way or not.”
Police chief Adrian Vasquez agreed, saying: “I would just echo the mayor’s stance on the red flag law. It is currently a law in Colorado. If law enforcement has credible information that fits within the parameters of the red flag law, then we should take action on it.
“But as the mayor says we have to have the right information… to be able to do that. So if we do, then of course we should.”
Io Dodds22 November 2022 01:20
Why authorities may have sealed records of suspect’s bomb threats
We now know more about why the records from the suspect’s previous arrest were sealed.
At the press conference earlier today, state prosecutor Michael Allen refused to comment on any of Anderson Lee Aldrich’s previous interactions with law enforcement.
But he did point out that many criminal cases dismissed in the state of Colorado are automatically sealed, thanks to a bipartisan law passed in 2019.
“Colorado has very restrictive sealing laws,” Mr Allen said. “What that means is that if a case is filed in a courtroom in the state of Colorado, and it is dismissed for any reason, whatever that is… it is automatically sealed.
“The idea is that that person shouldn’t have to carry that charge around with them for the rest of their lives if there’s no way to convict them of that charge. That’s the design behind it.”
Mr Allen added that the law requires authorities to say that “no such record exists” when asked about such cases.
Io Dodds22 November 2022 01:03
Mayor praises ‘humble’ hero who tackled suspect
The mayor of Colorado Springs has praised the man who tackled the shooter to the floor, saying he had never encountered someone “so humble”.
At a press conference this afternoon, Mayor John Suthers said he had met with Richard Fierro, a former US Army captain who led the charge against the attacker.
“I had the opportunity before I came here today to talk to Richard Fierro, identified as one of the two heroes that subdued the suspect in this case, and in my opinion – and I think the opinion of everyone involved – saved a lot of lives,” Mr Suthers said.
“I have never encountered a person who had engaged in such heroic actions that was so humble about it. He simply said to me: ‘I was trying to protect my family’.”
Io Dodds22 November 2022 00:35