Events memorialize Club Q attack

Remembering the five lives lost and survivors impacted one year later




The Gazette, Colorado Springs


One year after an armed assailant unleashed a hail of bullets inside Club Q, killing five people and injuring 17 others, more than 200 people gathered outside the building to commemorate the lives lost and support the scores of people who still bear scars, physical and emotional, from the attack on what was considered an LGBTQ+ safe space. Raymond Green Vance, 22, Daniel Aston, 28, Ashley Paugh, 35, Derrick Rump, 38, and Kelly Loving, 40, were killed in the attack. Several state and city leaders, including Gov. Jared Polis, Sen. John Hickenlooper, former Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers and current Mayor Yemi Mobolade, were on hand for the memorial ceremony. “This past year has been a roller coaster of emotions,” said Club Q owner Matthew Haynes. “But the support from the city has been amazing. Even as time has gone on, that support has been there.” Amanda Pogue, an employee at the El Paso County courthouse, showed up more than two hours early to help with the setup for the memorial. Pogue was at work Thursday morning when a deadly shooting took place just outside the courthouse, and was huddled on the floor with other employees after the shots were fired. “That made it especially important for me to be here today,” she said. Thomas James, the Navy petty officer who helped subdue and disarm the Club Q shooter, showed up to lay flowers at the memorial space outside the club, but declined when asked to speak publicly. “I’ve lived a quiet, private life and will continue to do so,” said James, who was wounded in the attack. “But I thought it was important to come here and pay my respects to the victims, their families, and the survivors.” Among the event’s speakers were Jeff and Sabrina Aston, Daniel’s parents. “The LGBTQ+ family are now our family,” Sabrina said. “The power of love conquers hate. Let’s all be thankful for the love and support we have received this past year.” Michael Anderson, vice president of club operations and a survivor of the shooting, said the memorial was a reminder of “how far we have come, and how far we still have to go.” “What once served as a refuge to the LGBTQ community for two decades had its legacy cut short one year ago … because one evil person decided to rewrite history with weaponized, radicalized hatred,” Anderson said. Mobolade, who praised former mayor Suthers for his leadership in the aftermath of the deadly shooting, said the city would continue to rally around its LGBTQ+ community. “Colorado Springs has come a long way, but we acknowledge that we still have work to do,” the mayor said. “To our LGBTQ+ community, please know that I see you, and I stand shoulder to shoulder with you, not just today, but every day.” The atmosphere was more festive at Indvstry Video Bar, which hosted Club Q family members, friends and supporters for a “Kinship Memorial” that included food and live music. “We were asked how much it would cost. But it’s for a memorial, so we didn’t charge to host it,” said Jae Cho, Indvstry’s co-owner. “My brother Jonathan and I are charity-driven. When it comes to police, firefighters, breast cancer, the LGBTQIA community … we want to do whatever we can to help.” Tiffany Loving, Kelly’s sister, seemed drained by the events of the day. “It’s been a really emotional day,” Loving said. “But it’s important to honor the people who died that night, and the people who are still suffering.” Tears were mixed with laughter as people embraced, shared stories and tried to celebrate the lives of the Club Q casualties rather than mourn their deaths. Ron Bell, Green’s grandfather, remembers him as a “gentle giant” who greeted life with a smile. “He wasn’t perfect. He was young, and he made some of the mistakes young people make,” Green said. “But he was putting his life together, moving in the right direction … and then this happened.” In October, officials announced that the club would reopen in leased space inside the Satellite Hotel. Haynes said the new club — to be called “The Q” — would be a quiet, lounge-style venue that would serve as a “stopgap until we are able to bring Club Q back.” Haynes added that a permanent memorial will be erected near the North Academy Boulevard location. “As long as I’m alive, there will be a memorial here,” he said. “There will be a permanent tribute to what happened, and we can never forget.”