Candlelight Vigil Held for Club Q Victims

Mass shooting at LGBTQ+ nightclub creates worry for the community


Abigail Shimniok graphic

The Southwest Wisconsin Rainbow Alliance hosted a candlelight vigil on Nov. 22 to honor the victims of the Club Q shooting on Nov. 19. Pastor Lynne Parrott and Dr. Pip Gordon, Associate Professor of English and Gay Studies Coordinator, spoke at the vigil.

Royal Palmer, president of the SWRA, organized the event in less than 24 hours to pay respects to the victims at the shooting. Palmer said, “It really meant a lot to me because I identify as LGBTQ+ and the violence that has been targeting the LGBTQ+ community has really just become a real problem. When we heard the news, it really broke my heart.”

Five people were murdered and 22 were injured in a mass shooting that occurred in a LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs, CO, on Nov. 19. Club Q was open to all members of the LGBTQ+ community and was recognized as a safe place.

Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, went into the night club with an AR-type gun and handgun and murdered Daniel Aston, Raymond Green Vance, Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh and Derrick Rump. Aldrich was ultimately taken down by two nightclub members before police arrived.

According to CNN, “Richard Fierro, an Army veteran who was celebrating a birthday at the club with family and friends, tackled Aldrich to the ground and used the suspect’s handgun to hit them repeatedly, Fierro told CNN. Another person jumped in to help and pushed the rifle out of Aldrich’s reach, Fierro said.”

Prosecuting attorneys are charging Aldrich with five counts of murder and five counts of a hate crime, with possible other charges. 

“I want them to know that we are going to be the voice for the victims in the courtroom and that we will be fighting alongside them during this entire process,” Attorney Michael Allen said in response to the Club Q murders.  

No motive has been discovered for the murders. Aldrich is currently being held with no bond and is expected to have their next court hearing on Dec. 6.

Movement Advancement Project explains hate crimes laws across the U.S. as “The federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act allows the federal government to prosecute hate crimes, including those based on sexual orientation and gender identity. State laws may also allow for state or local prosecution of certain hate crimes, depending on what, if any, protections the state law offers.”

As seen in recent years, LGBTQ+ people have a higher risk of being the target of hate crimes especially mass shootings. The gay nightclub Pulse, located in Orlando, FL, had the second worst mass shooting in American history where 49 people were murdered in 2016. 

Sandy Hook Promise reports, “LGBTQ+ people are more than twice as likely to be a victim of gun violence than their cisgender and straight peers.”

The Southwest Wisconsin Rainbow Alliance candlelight vigil for the victims in the Club Q shooting included two speeches and a moment of silence for those affected by the mass shooting.

“Some morning, for some news, I cannot muster that distance from the abject grief I feel for all of it. In more clear-headed moments, I ask myself: When did it become so unbearably hard just to love one another? And yet, here we are, together, mourning loss in our community again,” Dr. Gordon said during their speech at the vigil. 

Palmer explained how the vigil went beyond his expectations and the turnout of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies demonstrated how many people wanted to show their support for the victims.

“Just seeing the close-knit community here of LGBTQ+ individuals, I feel particularly responsible for the community wellness for this area. I needed to grieve with my community, and I wanted to let them know that this community is still looking out for each other,” Palmer said.