Patrons Thought Club Was a Safe Space

'I lost friends,' one witness says after mass shooting
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2022 5:10 PM CST
'I Lost Friends,' Says Club Shooting Witness
Crystal and Ella Mondragon place flowers Sunday at a makeshift memorial near Club Q in Colorado Springs.   (AP PhotoGeneva Heffernan)

Witnesses, patrons and President Biden said Sunday that the LGBTQ nightclub attacked by a mass shooter was supposed to be a safe space. Instead, five people in the Colorado Springs club were shot to death and at least 25 wounded, CBS News reports. Police said a 22-year-old male suspect, who was stopped by people at the bar, is in custody. The president issued a statement calling for an end to "the inequities that contribute to violence against" LGBTQ people. Such "spaces of acceptance and celebration should never be turned into places of terror and violence," he said, per the New York Times, adding, "We cannot and must not tolerate hate."

"I lost friends," said Joshua Thurman, who was in the club at the time. "I'm not OK." He heard the shooting begin and fled to a dressing room. Thurman said he heard employees beating up the suspect and shouting "Get on the ground, stay on the ground!" After he crawled out, Thurman looked back at the club. "Bodies on the ground, blood, shattered glass, windows, it was just so heartbreaking," he said. Angelo Patino, 18, left the club shortly before the shooting, after performing a drag show. "It was my safe space," he said. "It hurts me that I could not protect my friends when they needed it."

Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said the killer used a long rifle. Two guns were found at the club, per CNN. He credited the people who fought the gunman with preventing more violence. "We owe them a great debt of thanks," Vasquez said. A memorial with flowers and other items left by mourners outside the club was expanding quickly Sunday. The club's owner, Matthew Haynes, spoke at a vigil in the afternoon. "Club Q doesn't have employees, doesn't have customers, has family and community," he said. (More mass shootings stories.)

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