Colorado Springs: Richard Fierro said he was at a table at Club Q with his wife, daughter and friends on Saturday, watching a drag show, when the sudden flash of gunfire ripped through the nightclub.
His instincts from four combat deployments as a US Army officer in Iraq and Afghanistan kicked in instantly. Stand up for yourself, he told himself.
In an interview at his home, where his wife and daughter were still recovering from their injuries, Fierro, 45, who left the Army in 2013 as a major, according to military records, described how he navigated the chaos at the club, knocking the gunman down and bloodily beating him with the gunman’s own weapon.
“I don’t know exactly what I did, I just went into combat mode,” Fierro said, shaking his head. “I just know that I have to kill this guy before he kills us.”
Authorities have 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich in custody on charges of killing five people, and say 18 more people were injured in a riot at the club that lasted only a few minutes. The death toll could have been much higher, authorities said, if the bar’s patrons had not detained the gunman.
Fierro’s description of what happened at the club at that time closely matches accounts given by police and city officials and by the club’s owners, who reviewed security footage of the massacre. When shown a photo of Fierro, club owner Nic Grzecka said he resembled the man who brought down the gunman.
“I don’t even know his name,” Grzecka said. “I would really like to meet him.”
When the shooting started, Fierro said, he hit the ground and dragged a friend with him. As bullets sprayed, he saw the gunman move through the bar toward a door that led to a patio where dozens of bar patrons had fled. Fierro, who served in the military for 15 years, said he ran across the room, grabbed the gunman by a handle on the back of his bulletproof vest, threw him to the ground and jumped on top of him.
“Was he shooting at the time? Was she about to shoot? I don’t know,” Fierro said. “I knew I had to take him down.”