In the back of her mind, like a mother’s instinct, Sabrina Aston always worried about her son, Daniel.
“I always worried about it,” she said. “He’s a trans man and the trans community are really the biggest targets I can think about it right now.”
Daniel Aston’s dad, Jeff Aston, added, “but you try not to think about those things too much.”
Daniel Aston, 28, was one of the five people fatally shot late Saturday at Club Q, an LGBTQ bar in Colorado Springs, where he was a bartender and a frequent performer.
Authorities say 25 additional people were injured when a gunman opened fire inside the bar close to midnight. Officials have not said if there was a motive, but they are looking into whether it was a hate crime.
One suspect is hospitalized and in custody.
'He was the happiest had had ever been'
At 4 years old in Oklahoma where they were raising him, he told her he was a boy and he refused to wear girl clothes, including to his older brother’s wedding. He started getting teased at school because he preferred to dress like a boy.
At 11, he resolved that he would try hard to be a girl, but he eventually got depressed and became anorexic. Aston told his mother he thought he was gay.
“I knew he was trans when he was 4,” Sabrina said.
Aston eventually started living as a trans man and started medically transitioning shortly after college.
Even though Aston had a big group of friends in Oklahoma, his parents convinced him to move to Colorado Springs two years ago, where they had relocated to be near grandchildren. Daniel Aston followed them and got a job at Club Q, where he quickly found another big community of friends.
Aston was a bartender there and also performed in shows, where he usually danced, his mother said. He loved 1980s music and hats.
“He was the happiest he had ever been,” said Sabrina Aston. “He was thriving and having fun and having friends. It’s just unbelievable. He had so much more life to give to us and to all to his friends and to himself.”
Despite crippling shock and grief that her youngest child was killed, the Astons said they wanted to speak out about what happened to their son to bring more “exposure and acceptance” about the transgender community.
“We need to get our legislators and our people high up to have a voice for us,” Sabrina Aston said. “Those are our children, we do not care how you dress or what you identify as. It doesn’t harm anybody.”
Aston loved Colorado once he got acclimated and hung out with his parents a lot in the mountains, they said. They were proud of him, his success at work, the fact that he had so many friends, his own apartment, and was starting to chart the early trappings of success as a 20-something.
“He was thriving and having fun and having friends. It’s just unbelievable,” Sabrina Aston said. “He had so much more life to give to us and to all his friends and to himself.”
'That's not the way it's supposed to work'
They first heard about the shooting with a phone call at about 2 a.m. from one of Daniel’s friends, who told them he was at Memorial Hospital. They got dressed and went to the hospital and no one there could find any record of Daniel.
A police officer told them to go home and said he’d work on tracking down their son.
When they saw a detective come to their door a few hours later — Sabrina said it felt like “an eternity” — she knew.
“I didn't want to be part of this, the losing a child club, you know?” she said. “That’s not the way it’s supposed to work.”
- Colorado Crisis Services hotline: Call 1-844-493-8255 or text “TALK” to 38255 to speak with a trained counselor or professional. Counselors are also available at walk-in locations or online to chat between 4 p.m. and 12 a.m.
- A list of mental health providers offering therapy for those impacted. Many are providing sessions free or at a reduced charge.
- Diversus Health: Offers a 24/7 walk-in crisis center for crisis services and counseling for all ages, regardless of ability to pay. You can request an appointment here or visit 115 S. Parkside Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80910.
- Peak View Behavioral Health Assessment team: 719-444-8484 or www.peakviewbh.com.
- Inside Out Youth Services: provides support and resources for LGBTQ youth and are coordinating vigils for people to gather.
- See more resources here.
You want to know what is really going on these days, especially in Colorado. We can help you keep up. The Lookout is a free, daily email newsletter with news and happenings from all over Colorado. Sign up here and we will see you in the morning!