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Thomas James, Club Q survivor: ‘Come out swinging’

Thomas James Club Q Survivor

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Thomas James remains in stable condition at Centura Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs, Colo, after being hailed for his actions in the Club Q shooting that took place late Nov. 19 and into the morning of Nov. 20. Photo: U.S. Navy

When a gunman entered Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colo., earlier this month, minutes before midnight, and opened fire, U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Thomas James stepped up, charging the attacker with decorated Army combat veteran Richard Fierro.

The pair worked together to subdue Anderson Lee Aldrich, who police have identified as the gunman. Aldrich, who was arrested at Club Q, is accused of killing five people and shooting and injuring 17 other clubgoers on Nov. 19. Aldrich has not yet been charged.

When the alleged gunman was tackled to the ground, James pushed a rifle out of his reach, and Fierro says he beat Aldrich with his own handgun.

Fierro says he told James to repeatedly kick Aldrich.

“That was hard to do. It’s not a humane act,” Fierro told The New York Times, speaking about Thomas James’ actions. “But I asked him to help me, and he helped me.”

James, who was injured during the shooting and ensuing struggle, issued a statement from his hospital bed via a Centura Health spokesman.

“I simply wanted to save the family I found. If I had my way, I would shield everyone I could from the nonsensical acts of hate in the world, but I am only one person,” he said in the statement that was released Sunday.

“Thankfully, we are family, and family looks after one another. We came a long way from Stonewall. Bullies aren’t invincible. I want to support everyone who has known the pain and loss that have been all too common these past few years.”

“My thoughts are with those we lost on November 19 and those who are still recovering from their injuries,” he continued. “To the youth, I say be brave. Your family is out there. You are loved and valued. So when you come out of the closet, come out swinging.”

James is in stable condition, the spokesman said.

Neither the spokesman nor the hospital has released any information on James’ injuries.

James is recovering from injuries at Centura Penrose Hospital, the same hospital where several victims were treated after the shooting.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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