Colorado shooting: Six minutes of horror in Club Q

Police outside Club Q
Police arrived at Club Q within minutes of receiving 911 calls

Saturday night at Colorado Spring's Club Q began like many others - with excitement and smiling faces.

Just minutes before midnight, dozens of revellers were at the LGBT venue - which was hosting a drag show and a $20 (£16) "drink all night" special.

The atmosphere was boisterous, with the dance floor packed by club-goers moving to the beat of a local DJ.

"It was a great vibe. Everybody was having fun. There was no drama," head of security Jeremiah Griffith later told the Colorado Sun. "Everybody was dancing and having drinks."

Just moments before the clock struck midnight, the joyous atmosphere would turn to terror when the attacker - wearing tactical gear and armed with a rifle - burst through the door and unleashed a flurry of shots into the crowd.

Some club-goers later said that they weren't sure what was happening.

"We heard the music and then we heard pop-pop-pop-pop," club regular Joshua Thurman was quoted as saying by the Washington Post. "That was it, so I kept on dancing."

The muzzle flashes, however, soon made it abundantly clear what was taking place.

"When I heard another set of shots go off that's when it clicked in my mind that oh, it's going down," Mr Thurman added.

According to the Colorado Springs Police Department, the first 911 call came in at around 23:56, with officers arriving just three minutes later.

Club-goers would later describe those minutes as chaotic, loud and terrifying.

Ed Sanders, 63, said in a video that he was standing at the bar when a bullet entered his back between his shoulder blades, quickly followed by another that slammed into his thigh.

Two bartenders standing just feet away were killed.

"I shielded another woman with my coat. I didn't know how long they were going to shoot," he said.

Another club-goer, Richard Fierro - a 15-year US Army veteran with combat tours to Iraq and Afghanistan - was sitting nearby when the shooting started.

He later told reporters that his combat training swiftly kicked in, prompting him to attack the suspect and pull him to the ground by his body armour.

"I'm thinking, 'I gotta kill this guy. He's gonna kill my kid. He's gonna kill my wife," he said. "It's the reflex. Go to the fire. Stop the action. Don't let no-one get hurt."

The perpetrator's rifle fell in the ensuing tussle. As Mr Fierro and the suspect wrestled, he called to a nearby man - and later a show performer - to kick the gunman in the head.

"She took off her high heel and stuffed it in his face," Mr Fierro recalled.

Officers took the suspect into custody at two minutes past midnight - just six minutes after the initial 911 call was received. In total, nearly 75 police officers and firefighters responded to the shooting, as well as 11 ambulances.

Who were the victims?

The five victims were identified as ranging in age from 22 to 40.

The youngest, 22-year-old Raymond Green Vance, was the long-time boyfriend of Mr Fierro's daughter Kassy.

The two bartenders who fell near Mr Thurmon were named as Daniel Aston, 28, and Derrick Rump, 38.

The other two victims were 40-year-old Kelly Loving, who was visiting from Denver, and 35-year-old foster care worker Ashley Paugh.

Another 18 people were injured.

One of them, Barrett Hudson, later said in a Facebook video that he "shouldn't be alive" after being hit seven times.

"All the bullets missed my organs," he said.

"Saturday night I thought I was dead. Sunday, I thought I would never walk again. Tuesday, I'm walking," said Mr Hudson.

What do we know about the gunman?

The gunman has been identified as a 22-year-old local resident. In court documents, the publicly funded lawyers assigned to the case noted that the suspect is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns.

After being taken into custody in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, the suspect was admitted to hospital to be treated for injuries received in the brawl.

No formal charges have yet been brought.

On Wednesday 23 November the suspect made a first court appearance.

The suspect appeared in court looking beaten
The suspect appeared in court looking beaten

In a video from jail, the accused could be seen slumped, with visible facial injuries, and spoke twice - once to confirm their name and to say "no" when asked by the judge whether there were any questions.

Although little else about the suspect is known, some details have begun to trickle in.

According to CNN, in 2016 they successfully petitioned a Texas judge to have their name legally changed from Nicholas F Brink, although it is unclear why.

Five years later in June 2021, they were also reportedly charged in connection with a bomb threat and standoff at their mother's house in El Paso County, of which Colorado Springs is also part.

No formal charges were filed after that incident, and it remains unclear how it was legally resolved. The records have been sealed.

The suspect's father, Nicholas Brink, 48, said in a local TV interview that his first reaction upon learning his son was in an LGBT bar was to be alarmed he might be gay.

Mr Brink - who said he was a mixed martial arts coach and former porn actor - told CBS 8 in San Diego: "I am a Mormon, I am a conservative Republican, and we don't do gay."