Grief-stricken friends have paid tribute to bartenders Derrick Rump and Daniel Aston, who are among the five dead in a mass shooting at gay nightclub Club Q in Colorado Springs.
A gunman killed at least five people and injured 25 others when he stormed the nightclub and opened fire with a rifle. Police have a suspect in custody.
Police confirmed at least five were murdered in the shooting, with a further 25 injured. Some are in hospital with life-threatening injuries.
Among the dead are bartenders Derrick Rump and Daniel Aston (both pictured), a trans man who also performed in drag at Club Q.
Friends posted heartbreaking tributes to the pair on social media.
A Club Q staff member wrote on Facebook, “My boys are gone. Plz take care of each other. I love you both so much.”
A friend of Rump also wrote, “Two beautiful souls were taken from us last night. Daniel Aston and Derrick Rump, you both be missed so much it hurts.
“[Daniel] was an amazing person with a big heart, I had seen him active in the community. He’s loved by some of my friends so my heart hurts for them.
“Derrick, you always treated me so sweetly and brightened up my days when I’d come out and see you at the Club.
“Always made sure I was taken care of and not just as a bar patron.
“As a friend. I’ll miss you and your smile that could light up the darkest of your rooms, and your laugh that rubbed off on everyone around you. Love you always. RIP to them both.”
Another friend wrote, “I’m so incredibly heartbroken.. Derrick Rump and Daniel Davis Aston were two of the sweetest souls I have ever met… Rest in peace brothers.. I’ll see you on the other side.”
Police arrest suspect after Club Q gay nightclub shooting
Police allege that 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich entered Club Q about 11.55pm Saturday and immediately opened fire with the rifle.
At least two patrons there heroically confronted Aldrich and subdued him. Colorado Police credit them with saving lives.
Officers arrested Aldrich, who was also taken to a hospital for his injuries.
In a statement, Club Q said the entire team is “in shock, and in deep mourning, with the family and friends who had loved ones senselessly taken from them.”
“We condemn the horrific violence that shattered an evening of celebration for all in the LGBTQ community of Colorado Springs and our allies.
“Club Q offers our greatest gratitude to those who moved immediately to stop the gunman and prevent more loss of life and injury.”
‘Stop the disgusting rhetoric before more people get hurt’
Club Q said the gay venue “has always provided a space for LGBTQ people and our ally friends to celebrate together.”
“We’ll always speak up for and support everyone’s right to be themselves and be safe,” the statement said.
“We demand that those who spread disgusting rhetoric and encourage violence stop this behavior immediately before more people get hurt.
“We urge with everything in our heart for every person to do what they can to speak up for LGBTQ people and everyone’s right to be safe.”
Colorado’s Governor Jared Polis, who is gay, condemned the “horrific, sickening and devastating” attack.
“My heart breaks for the family and friends of those lost, injured and traumatised in this terrible shooting,” he tweeted.
“We are eternally grateful for the brave individuals who blocked the gunman, likely saving lives in the process and for the first responders who responded swiftly to this horrific shooting.”
Joe Biden says US ‘must not tolerate hate’
US President Joe Biden also declared “we cannot and must not tolerate hate” in a statement responding to the “senseless attack”.
“While no motive in this attack is yet clear, we know that the LGBTQI+ community has been subjected to horrific hate violence in recent years,” Biden said.
“Gun violence continues to have a devastating and particular impact on LGBTQI+ communities across our nation. And threats of violence are increasing.
“We saw it six years ago in Orlando, when our nation suffered the deadliest attack affecting the LGBTQI+ community in American history.
“We continue to see it in the epidemic of violence and murder against transgender women – especially transgender women of color.
“And tragically, we saw it last night in this devastating attack by a gunman wielding a long rifle at an LGBTQI+ nightclub in Colorado Springs.
He said the US must “do more” to address the “public health epidemic of gun violence” including by banning assault weapons.
“Places that are supposed to be safe spaces of acceptance and celebration should never be turned into places of terror and violence,” he said.
“Yet it happens far too often. We must drive out the inequities that contribute to violence against LGBTQI+ people. We cannot and must not tolerate hate.”
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