Thomas James: Army veteran who took down Colorado nightclub shooter speaks out

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A US Navy member, who was injured while disarming the shooter during a mass shooting incident inside Club Q in Colorado Springs, said he simply ‘wanted to save the family’ he found.

The shooter, who was wearing body armour, opened fire at LGBT+ nightclub Club Q, killing five and injuring 18 on 19 November.

Thomas James, a petty officer in the navy, subdued the attacker, preventing further bloodshed.

Mr James was left injured in the shooting and is still admitted in hospital for treatment. On Sunday, in his first comments on the incident, Mr James said he “simply wanted to save the family I found”.

“If I had my way, I would shield everyone I could from the nonsensical acts of hate in the world, but I am only one person. Thankfully, we are family, and family looks after one another. We came a long way from Stonewall. Bullies aren’t invincible,” he said, referring to a series of spontaneous protests in New York in 1969 that galvanised the national movement for gay rights.

“I want to support everyone who has known the pain and loss that have been all too common these past few years. My thoughts are with those we lost on Nov 19, and those who are still recovering from their injuries.”

He issued the statement through the Centura Penrose Hospital in Colorado, where he is recovering from an undisclosed injury. He is in stable condition, according to the hospital.

Mr James, along with Army veteran Richard M Fierro, knocked down the assailant, said Colorado Springs Police Department Chief Adrian Vasquez.

The suspect in the shooting, identified as 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, is in custody. The suspect allegedly opened fire at the club just before midnight, when a patron’s birthday celebration was underway.

Mr James, who is trained in the military, reportedly pushed the shooter’s rifle out of his reach while Mr Fierro repeatedly struck the shooter with a handgun he was carrying, according to officials.

Mr James concluded the statement by urging young members of the LGBT+ community to be brave.

“To the youth I say be brave. Your family is out there. You are loved and valued. So, when you come out of the closet, come out swinging,” he added.

The suspect is being held on first-degree murder and hate crime charges. He will be formally charged at a hearing on 6 December.

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