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Club Q Hero Richard Fierro on the Former Safe Space's Future

Club Q Hero Richard Fierro on the Former Safe Space's Future

Richard M. Fierro
Helen H. Richardson/Getty Images

The man who slammed the gunman to the ground during the Club Q shooting talks about the aftermath of the tragedy and how we can move forward.

@wgacooper

Richard M. Fierro said he’s not a hero. In interviews, he said his actions on November 19, 2022, at the Club Q queer nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colo., were just to protect his family. But not many people would grab a gunman by the back of their body armor and pull them down to the ground, then take their gun and pistol whip them with it, ending an assault in minutes.

Along with the help of a few other patrons, the army veteran, who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, held the suspect, Anderson Lee Aldrich, down while police arrived.

Fierro and his wife, Jessica, and daughter, Kassandra, were not only witnesses to the attack — his daughter’s boyfriend, Raymond Green Vance, was one of the five people killed. Now Fierro is processing the violence that’s forever changed him, his family, and his community.

“We’re still grieving,” Fierro told the Advocate in December, adding that his bruises from the confrontation are healed. “But it’s a process. I don’t know how to put it.”

Fierro’s daughter is also recovering from a broken knee she injured during the attack, he said. And she’s having to face the death of her boyfriend of six years.

“Raymond was part of our family,” Fierro said. Vance was 22, the same age as the suspected gunman. “Raymond was a good man; he earned my trust with my daughter, and I respect him for all of that. He had a lot of potential that was lost.”

Some of the families of those killed at the nightclub have stopped by his family’s brewery, Atrevida Beer Co., since the shooting. There’s been a general outpouring of support for the business, with Atrevida selling out its merchandise and beers. Fierro said he’s grateful for the response, adding that orders are backlogged while he and his family recover.

“I’m not a T-shirt guy; I’m a beer guy,” he said with a laugh. “It’s an amazing amount of love and we are completely overwhelmed.”

On the night of the shooting, the Fierros had gone to see a friend of his daughter perform. They made their way to the dance floor when the gunfire began. In interviews with media outlets, Fierro refers back to his training from the military kicking in when he needed it the most. In arrest photos of Aldrich, his face is purple from bruises sustained when Fierro and others took him down.

Fierro said in the time since the shooting people have come up to him telling him that his actions that night inspired them. He said to get past what happened at Club Q, we could learn lessons from 9/11 about fears of returning to regular routines.

“Everybody was like, ‘Don’t let them keep you in the house. Don’t let them change your lifestyle.’ We’ve got to do the same thing with this,” he explains. Fierro said that we can’t demand Club Q have armed guards or for his own brewery to have security.

While he doesn’t know what will become of the Club Q venue, he said the space is vital. “It’s not just important for [the] LGBT community around here. It’s important for all of us.” And though the community needs to heal, Fierro said they also need not be afraid of going out again.

(A founding owner of Club Q said it will reopen later this year.)

Fierro condemned the groups that continue to target LGBTQ+ events, including drag shows.

“These hate groups are ridiculous,” he said. Fierro suspected the hatred of these groups comes from the fear of losing majority status over historically marginalized communities.

“We have always been the ones that were the only person that looked like us in a room. And suddenly that’s starting to reverse itself and those people don’t feel like that should be the case, and I think that’s wrong. So that is their sickness,” Fierro said. “They have to get over it… that anger is disgusting…. It’s horrible.”

It’s also unjustified.

“You know, we don’t have to agree on everything. That’s fine. You can have your opinion — but your opinion does not determine whether I can be safe or not.”

And to combat this hatred and violence? Fierro said his only idea is love.

“I think that the biggest way to address it is to be nice to each other and hopefully the person that needed that hug or that acknowledgment will not do something as stupid as this.”

Earlier this month, a judge found that the alleged shooter will face all the 323 charges against them at trial.

@wgacooper
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