U.S. Army veteran Richard Fierro was among the patrons at an LGBT night club in Colorado Springs who helped take down the suspect in a deadly shooting attack on Saturday night. Fierro said he “went into combat mode” and “tried to finish” the gunman after he charged through the club and took the suspect to the ground.
Fierro — a 15-year Army officer — told the New York Times he was attending a drag show with his family at the Club Q LGBT club in Colorado Springs when the event was interrupted by a hail of gunfire.
Fierro quickly charged at the shooting suspect, took the gunman to the ground and beat him. The suspect has been identified as 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich.
“I don’t know exactly what I did, I just went into combat mode,” Fierro, 45, told the New York Times. “I just know I have to kill this guy before he kills us.”
Fierro had seen combat in Afghanistan and Iraq and was twice awarded the Bronze Star. The combat veteran reportedly charged through the nightclub, grabbed the gunman by a handle on the back of his body armor and pulled him to the ground.
The gunman, who began shooting with a rifle, lost the weapon as he and Fierro crashed to the floor. Feirro reportedly began to reach for the rifle when he saw the suspect go for a second weapon, a pistol. Fierro shifted focus back to the gunman and stopped the suspect from being able to use the pistol.
“I grabbed the gun out of his hand and just started hitting him in the head, over and over,” Fierro said.
As Fierro beat the suspect, another patron named Thomas James also began kicking the suspect in the head.
In total, the gunman killed five people. The gunman wounded another 19 people with gunfire while at least six others sustained other injuries in the chaos. The death toll would likely have been higher if not for the actions of Fierro and the other patrons.
Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, who met with Fierro after the shooting, said the veteran “saved a lot of lives” with his actions.
Suthers also remarked at Fierro’s humility about the incident.
“I have never encountered a person who engaged in such heroic actions and was so humble about it,” Suthers said.
Among those killed was Fierro’s daughter’s boyfriend, 22-year-old Raymond Green Vance.
“Raymond was a beautiful man,” Fierro told the Denver Post. “I loved him.”
Fierro and the other patrons subdued the gunman until police could take him into custody.
“That guy is still alive and my family is not,” Fierro said, telling reporters that he considers everyone that was in the club that night to be his family. “I tried. I tried to finish him.”
Fierro’s daughter also broke her knee in the chaos of the attack.
Fierro was at the club that night because one of his daughter’s old high-school friends was performing.
“These kids want to live that way, want to have a good time, have at it,” Fierro said. “I’m happy about it because that is what I fought for, so they can do whatever the hell they want.”
After police arrived, they took the suspect but also handcuffed Fierro. The veteran said police kept him in a vehicle for over an hour but he said he did not fault officers for detaining him.