‘I’m not the hero, they’re the heroes’: U.S. Army veteran Richard Fierro took down attacker in Club Q
Richard Fierro tackled and beat the person who shot and killed five people and injured 18 others at Club Q in Colorado Springs last weekend. But despite being lauded as a hero, he doesn’t consider himself one.
“Everybody in that room was family,” said Fierro, a U.S. Army veteran who served 15 years in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Everybody in that room was a hero. Everybody in that room did something heroic. Whether it was hiding, whether it was running, whether it was helping their friend, whether it was doing CPR or whatever they needed to do at the end.
“I'm not the hero. They're the heroes.”
For more than two decades, Club Q has served as a safe gathering place for the LGBTQ+ community in Colorado Springs. Fierro, 45, and his family, including his wife, daughter and friends were out at the club watching a drag show on Nov. 19. He said it was a normal night out — he had been trying to get out more. His daughter’s best friend was celebrating their birthday and was set to perform in a drag show that night.
It wasn’t a busy night and the club was not packed, Fierro said.
US Navy sailor Thomas James hospitalized after Club Q shooting, has same name as "hero" identified by police
“I know Club Q, it's a popular place, man,” Fierro said. “That place probably gets rocking. But that night it wasn't packed.”
Fierro said his wife, Jessica Fierro, and daughter, Kassandra Fierro, encouraged him to attend the show, promising him it would be a treat. Kassandra Fierro’s boyfriend, Raymond Green Vance, 22, was among the five killed in the shooting.
Vance and Kassandra Fierro were on the dance floor that night – the two were childhood sweethearts. Fierro, the rest of the family and friends had joined them.
Then, they watched the drag show until the unthinkable happened.
Loud popping sounds disrupted the show and people ducked for cover while others ran, Fierro said. Jessica Fierro, said their family was scattered and she initially felt confusion.
“I myself didn't know if it was firecrackers, if it was the music,” she said Tuesday.
Everything happened so fast, she said, and Kassandra Fierro ended up in a dressing room across from the stage from where the drag performance occurred with a gentleman who helped protect her.
“You hear screams. These are things that we're not gonna ever be able to unsee, unsmell,” Jessica Fierro said. “These are things of nightmares.”
Vance was a vivacious soul, she said, who always protected and took care of her daughter.
“It's an incredible loss for Kassie, for the community, for his family, for his friends,” she said. “He just had the biggest smile, the biggest soul, the best sense of humor.
“He didn't deserve it. No. Nobody deserved it.”
Someone else in the club had thrown Jessica Fierro to the floor for protection, as Fierro’s combat instincts led him to target a shooter who had opened fire. Jessica Fierro said she remembers ending up in the patio area of the club.
Police said 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich had entered the club and opened fire on patrons. Within minutes, Fierro tackled the suspect and proceeded to beat the shooter with one of Aldrich's weapons. Several other patrons helped.
Aldrich had a pistol and an AR rifle that were soon out of his reach as Fierro and others beat and stomped the suspect. Time slowed down for Fierro and he says he can’t recall how long it took them to actually take Aldrich down. But he said he knew he had to act.
“I knew weapons,” Fierro said. “I'm a soldier. I didn't take time or whatever. You just did it.”
The death toll could have been much higher, officials said on Sunday, if patrons had not stopped the shooter.
Kassandra Fierro’s knee was broken in the commotion during the shooting and she has other injuries. He says her biggest pain right now though is the loss of her childhood love.
Sometime after Aldrich was taken down, police took over, Fierro said.
Triggered from his time in the army, he moved with the familiarity of acting in a war zone and began helping his friends and guiding other people to safety. Police helped him tourniquet a friend, he said.
“Once you see something happen to a human that's not supposed to happen, it changes you forever,” Fierro said. “And this, this is something these people are gonna live with for the rest of their lives. When everybody's gone and nobody's here, we're still going through this for the rest of our lives.”
Fierro emphasized that everyone who was inside Club Q that night are heroes.
“I'm nobody special, man,” he said. “I didn't do anything. Look, I protected my family. Any person, woman, man, if their baby is in threat, they're gonna help their baby. That's it. Animals do it. Birds, dogs, everybody. We're all the same.
“The only reason I'm talking is because people are grieving, really grieving, right now. Parents — this is not something they can talk about. And I hope that this gives them a little bit of something to hold onto. That everybody was a family and somebody cared.”
Jessica Fierro founded and owns a brewery called Atrevida Beer Company in Colorado Springs, which she said will continue to be a safe space for people of all backgrounds, especially those in the LGBTQ+ community.
“We are so overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and love,” she said Tuesday. “I mean, the amount of messages and emails that people have sent and the social media comments are all just showing love and support. That's that glimmer that kind of pushes us through the day.”
More Club Q Coverage
- ‘We’ve lost our family.’ LGBTQ community mourns after shooting at Club Q
- Shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs leaves 5 dead and 25 wounded
- Colorado Springs Club Q shooting: where to find resources and how to help
- Colorado lawmakers respond to Colorado Springs Club Q shooting
- What we know about the man who opened fire at Club Q in Colorado Springs
- Club Q victim Daniel Aston was everyone’s best friend, the life of the party
- 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.
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