Richard Fierro, an Army veteran, is being heralded for tackling the alleged gunman who opened fire in a Colorado queer nightclub and preventing additional carnage Saturday night.
Five people were killed and 25 injured at Club Q in Colorado Springs after a gunman entered the club and immediately opened fire, Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said during a news conference Sunday.
Police have identified Anderson Lee Aldrich as the alleged gunman.
The shooting lasted only a few minutes before bystanders subdued the suspect, police said.
Police received 911 calls starting at 11:56 p.m., and officers were on their way one minute later, police said.
The first responding officer arrived at midnight, and the suspect was detained at 12:02 a.m., police said.
Richard Fierro, 45, was at Club Q with his wife, their daughter, her boyfriend, and some friends watching a drag show when he heard the gunfire.
“I don’t know exactly what I did. I just went into combat mode,” Fierro told The New York Times. “I just know I have to kill this guy before he kills us.”
Fierro served 15 years in the military and had four combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He said his military combat instincts took over.
“Was he shooting at the time? Was he about to shoot? I don’t know,” Fierro told the publication. “I just knew I had to take him down.”
Fierro ran toward the gunman, whom he described as big as a bear, easily more than 300 pounds, wearing body armor, and holding a rifle.
Fierro pulled the alleged gunman down by a handle on the back of his body armor. The rifle fell to the floor, but Fierro saw the gunman also had a pistol, he told the Times.
“I grabbed the gun out of his hand and just started hitting him in the head, over and over,” Fierro said.
Fierro yelled for help and patrons rushed to move the gun away from the shooter.
A trans woman stomped on the shooter with her high heels.
Fierro told the paper he kept hitting Aldrich in the face with his gun. When police arrived, the gunman had stopped struggling.
Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers and Vasquez said Monday that Fierro’s and patrons’ actions saved lives.
Fierro and his wife, Jess, own Atrevida Beer Co., where she is head brewer. The name Atrevida means “bold, daring, audacious woman.”
It was Fierro’s first time at a drag show, enjoying life as a civilian after spending 15 years in the Army, before leaving in 2013 as a major.
“These kids want to live that way, want to have a good time, have at it,” he told the Times. “I’m happy about it because that is what I fought for, so they can do whatever the hell they want.”
Fierro’s wife and daughter, Kassandra, went to the hospital with minor injuries. His friends were shot and are still in the hospital.
The Fierros lost their Kassandra’s boyfriend, Raymond Green Vance, in the chaos at the club.
Vance’s mother called the Fierro family Sunday night.
Vance died in the shooting.