COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — A gunman opened fire at a gay nightclub late Saturday, killing five people and wounding 18, officials said. The club said the suspect was restrained by patrons.
Authorities received a report of a shooting at Club Q at 11:57 p.m. and responded within minutes, said Lt. Pamela Castro of the Colorado Springs Police Department.
The violence marked the sixth mass killing this month in a year that has left the country reeling from the deaths of 21 people in a school shooting in Uwald, Texas.
Castro had few details beyond the number of dead and wounded. She said the suspect was injured but did not know how or that the FBI arrived on the scene and provided assistance.
The latest incident took place against the background of increased anti-gay rhetoric from extremists. In a statement, Club Q called the shooting a hate attack.
“The Q Club is devastated by the senseless attack on our community,” the club wrote on its Facebook page. He said his prayers were with the victims and families, adding: “We are thankful for the quick response of the heroic customers who subdued the gunman and stopped this hate-motivated attack.”
Club Q is a gay and lesbian nightclub that hosts a “Drag Diva Drag Show” on Saturdays, according to its website.
In addition to the drag show, Club Q’s Facebook page said planned entertainment includes a “punk and alternative show” before a birthday dance party with a Sunday “brunch for all ages.”
Colorado Springs is a city of about 480,000 people located about 70 miles (112 kilometers) south of Denver and home to the United States Air Force Academy and the prominent evangelical Christian ministry, Focus on the Family.
In November 2015, three people were killed and eight wounded at a Planned Parenthood clinic in the city when authorities said a man opened fire because he wanted to wage a “war” against the clinic for providing abortions.
A motive for Saturday’s shooting was not immediately known, but it brought back memories of the 2016 massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that left 49 people dead. And it happened in a state that has seen several high-profile massacres, including at Columbine High School in 1999, at a movie theater in suburban Denver in 2012 and at a Boulder supermarket last year.
In June, 31 members of the neo-Nazi group Patriot Front were arrested in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and charged with conspiring to riot during a Pride parade. Experts warned that extremist groups could see it anti-gay rhetoric as a call to action.
Last month, a fundamentalist pastor from Idaho told his small congregation in Boise that gays, lesbians and transgender people should be put to death by a government that supported similar sermons by a fundamentalist pastor from Texas.
As of November 19, there have been 523 mass murders since 2006, resulting in 2,727 deaths. Associated Press/USA Today database of mass murders in the United States