A gunman opened fire at a gay nightclub early Sunday, killing five people and injuring 18 in the latest mass shooting to sweep the country in a year that has fueled anti-gay rhetoric among extremists.
Colorado Springs Police Department Lieutenant Pamela Castro said police received a report of a shooting at Club Q at 11:57 p.m.
Castro said there was one suspect who was injured and was being treated. She said it was not immediately clear whether the attacker had been shot by officers. She said the FBI was on the scene and assisting with the case.
Club Q is a gay and lesbian nightclub that hosts a “Drag Diva Drag Show” on Saturdays, according to the website.
In addition to the drag show published on the website, Club Q’s Facebook page said the evening’s planned entertainment included a “punk and alternative show” ahead of a birthday party, with a “brunch for all ages” taking place on Sunday. would start at 12 noon.
“Club Q is devastated by the senseless attack on our community,” the club writes on its Facebook page. It said its prayers were with the victims and families, and “We thank the prompt responses from heroic customers who have suppressed the shooter and ended this hate attack.”
Colorado Springs is a city of about 480,000 people located 70 miles south of Denver, home of the US Air Force Academy.
In November 2015, three people were killed and eight injured at a Planned Parenthood clinic in the city when authorities said a man opened fire because he wanted to wage “war” on the clinic for performing abortions.
The motive behind the shooting was not immediately known, but it brought back memories of the 2016 massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, which left 49 people dead. And it happened in a state that has seen several notorious mass murders, including at Columbine High School, a movie theater in suburban Denver in 2012, and a Boulder supermarket last year.
In June, 31 members of the neo-Nazi group Patriot Front were arrested in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and charged with conspiracy to cause riots at a Pride event. Experts warned that extremist groups could see anti-gay rhetoric as a call to action.
Last month, an Idaho fundamentalist minister told his small Boise congregation that gays, lesbians, and transgender people should be executed by the government, which lined up with similar sermons from a Texas fundamentalist minister.
There have been 523 mass murders since 2006, resulting in 2,727 deaths as of Nov. 19, according to The The Bharat Express News/USA Today database of mass murders in the US.