BALTIMORE -- Mayor Brandon Scott on Tuesday offered his condolences to the LGBTQ community in the aftermath of an attack at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs.
"Hateful rhetoric and facts of violence have no place in our city or our country and must be condemned and prosecuted to the full extent of the law," Scott said. "My heart goes out to the loved ones of those lost as a result of this act of domestic terrorism and I remain committed to building a Baltimore that serve all of our residents, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity or sexual orientation."
The man suspected of opening fire at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, was being held on murder and hate crime charges Monday, while hundreds of people gathered to honor the five people killed and 17 wounded in the attack on a venue that for decades was a sanctuary for the local LGBTQ community.
Aldrich faces five murder charges and five charges of committing a bias-motivated crime causing bodily injury in Saturday night's attack at Club Q, online court records showed.
Authorities said the attack was halted by two club patrons including Richard Fierro, who told reporters Monday night that he took a handgun from Aldrich, hit him with it and pinned him down with help from another person.
Fierro, a 15-year U.S. Army veteran who owns a local brewery, said he was celebrating a birthday with family members when the suspect "came in shooting." Fierro said during a lull in the shooting he ran at the suspect, who was wearing some type of armor plates, and pulled him down before severely beating him until police arrived.
"I tried to save people and it didn't work for five of them," he said. "These are all good people. ... I'm not a hero. I'm just some dude."
Fierro's daughter's longtime boyfriend, Raymond Green Vance, 22, was killed, while his daughter hurt her knee as she ran for cover. Fierro injured his hands, knees and ankle while stopping the shooter.
The suspect remained hospitalized with unspecified injuries but is expected to make his first court appearance in the next couple of days, after doctors clear him to be released from the hospital.
The charges against Aldrich were preliminary, and prosecutors had not filed formal charges in court yet. The hate crime charges would require proving that the gunman was motivated by bias, such as against the victims' actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
Local and federal authorities during a Monday news briefing declined to answer questions about why hate crime charges are being considered, citing the ongoing investigation. District Attorney Michael Allen noted that the murder charges would carry the harshest penalty — life in prison — whereas bias crimes are eligible for probation.
"But it is important to let the community know that we do not tolerate bias motivated crimes in this community, that we support communities that have been maligned, harassed and intimidated and abused," Allen said. "And that's one way that we can do that, showing that we will put the money where our mouth is, essentially, and make sure that we try it that way."
Additional charges are possible as the investigation continues, he said.
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