A man who has been called a hero for helping subdue the suspect in the deadly Colorado Springs gay nightclub mass shooting has spoken out about what he experienced inside the venue.
Speaking outside his home, Richard Fierro, a military veteran, told reporters that his wife and daughter were with him during the shooting at Club Q. His wife was not seriously injured, but his daughter Kassy broke her knee, he said. Her boyfriend, Raymond Green Vance, was one of the five people killed in the shooting, he said. The family had gone to the LGBTQ+ nightclub that evening because Kassy’s old junior prom date was performing there.
“I just know that I got into mode and I needed to save my family,” said Fierro, 45, who was emotional as he spoke. “That family was, at that time, everybody in that room.”
Fierro expressed regret for not being able to help the five people who were killed, but, according to police, his actions helped prevent a larger loss of life. A second person, identified by police as Thomas James, also helped subdue the shooter, but he has not yet spoken publicly.
Fierro, who served four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and left the military as a major, said that his military training kicked in as soon as the suspect “came in shooting.”
“I wasn’t thinking. I just ran over there,” Fierro said. “(I thought), ‘I’ve got to kill this guy. He’s going to kill my kid. He’s going to kill my wife.’ … It’s just the reflex: ‘Go. Go to the fight. Stop the action. Stop the activity. Don’t let no one get hurt.'”
He acted quickly, getting up and grabbing the shooter by the back of his body armor and pulling him to the ground, Fierro said. The action disarmed the shooter, who then appeared to reach for a second gun, Fierro said. Meanwhile, Fierro shouted at a nearby patron to move the larger gun the suspect had been firing.
“I grabbed the pistol from him … and then I started whaling on him,” said Fierro, who said he yelled at the same patron who moved the other gun to kick the shooter. A drag queen, on Fierro’s urging, also kicked the suspect with high heels, he said. James’ role in the incident has not been established.
Fierro said that he didn’t know if the suspect spoke to him when he subdued him.
“I was cussing at him, I don’t care what he said to me. I’m going to see that guy in court, and he’s going to see who did him,” Fierro said.
Fierro said he was handcuffed and held briefly by police after the shooting, but he said that he does not blame them for that as police were still trying to determine what his role in the events were at the time.
Fierro said that he and his family, who all identify as straight, have been loud supporters of the LGBTQ+ community. The brewery that he co-owns with his wife Jessica has the motto “Diversity, it’s on tap!” and features a “Christopher Street” beer that pays tribute to the LGBTQ+ community. The brewery also marches in a Pride parade each year.
“I love every one of them,” said Fierro. “That community, I love. I have nothing but love. I have nothing but love for everybody.”
Fierro said he would not discuss the death of Vance, his daughter’s boyfriend, but said that he “loved him” and that the two had been joking shortly before his death. Fierro also said that two of the family’s close friends remain in the hospital.
In addition to the five people killed inside Club Q, 17 people were injured by gunfire and one person experienced a non-gunshot injury, according to police.
The suspect, 22, was also hospitalized. Officials have not publicly commented on his condition, but he is expected to virtually appear in court from jail after he is released from the hospital.