‘I trained for this,’ says veteran who took down gunman at nightclub

Nov 22, 2022, 5:30 PM
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO - NOVEMBER 20: People hold a vigil at a makeshift memorial near the Club...
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO - NOVEMBER 20: People hold a vigil at a makeshift memorial near the Club Q nightclub on November 20, 2022 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Yesterday, a 22-year-old gunman entered the LGBTQ nightclub and opened fire, killing at least five people and injuring 25 others before being stopped by club patrons. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — A gunman opened fire at an LGBTQ+ nightclub Saturday night in Colorado Springs, killing five people and injuring 19, but the death toll would undoubtedly been higher if it were not for the actions of Richard Fierro, a former Army major.

Gunman opens fire at nightclub

Fierro was accompanied by his wife and daughter, his daughter’s boyfriend and family friends at Club Q. But when shots rang out, Fierro hit the floor.

“I was in [fighting] mode. (And) I was doing what I did downrange. I trained for this,” he said Monday as reported by CNN.

“It’s the reflex. Go! Go to the fire. Stop the action. Stop the activity. Don’t let no one get hurt. I tried to bring everybody back,” Fierro told the news network Monday outside his home.

Fierro served three tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.

“I ran across the room … pulled him down,” he said.

The suspect brought an AR-style weapon and a handgun to Club Q, but mainly used the assault-style rifle to kill and injure, Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said as reported by CNN.

Fierro said he grabbed the handgun before the shooter could use it.

Another club-goer, Thomas James, helped Fierro subdue the gunman by kicking his rifle out of reach.

“I have never encountered a person who had engaged in such heroic actions who was so humble about it,” Vasquez said. “He simply said to me, ‘I was trying to protect my family.’”

Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, faces preliminary charges of five counts of first-degree felony murder and five counts of a bias-motivated crime – known elsewhere as a hate crime – causing bodily injury, CNN reported.

“Had that individual [Fierro] not intervened this could have been exponentially more tragic,” Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers told The Associated Press.

Nightclub gunman pulled to floor by body armor

Veteran Brayden Weyment tells KSL NewsRadio’s Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic that Fierro likely got behind the gunman and pulled him down to the floor by a strap on the back of his body armor.

“He scanned the room to identify the threat,” Wayment said. “He saw the threat was wearing the body armor that me and him have worn for countless hours.

“And we all know that there’s this strap handle on the back because they’re heavy. So when you’re not wearing it, there’s this thick handle on the very back of it. And without even thinking, [Fierro] knew that he could grab that handle and control the threat.”

Fear sets in afterward

“Obviously, even when you’re trained . . . there’s still fear. How do you push through that fear?” Dave asked.

Weyment said Fierro likely didn’t think about moving to suppress the threat; his training just kicked in. Weyment added the former Army major is probably still working through the shooting massacre at Club Q.

“I don’t think you realize it until it’s over . . . because you can tell in the interview — and I have nothing but respect for the guy — you can tell he’s still worked up. He’s still processing what happened. The adrenaline is going through,” Weyment said.

Debbie said she agreed.

“I’ve listened to the interview. He still sounds like he’s amped up. No doubt still has the adrenaline going, but knew what to do.”

Related reading:

Police: Gunman kills 5 at gay club, is subdued by patrons

‘Everybody in that building experienced combat that night.’ 

‘It’s the reflex’: Veteran helped disarm gunman at gay club

More questions emerge about the Colorado Springs LGBTQ club shooting suspect


Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 


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‘I trained for this,’ says veteran who took down gunman at nightclub