‘Wanted To Save The Family I Found’: Navy Sailor Who Stopped Club Q Shooter Speak Out For First Time

Thomas James was one of two “heroes” that stopped the Club Q shooter. Image: US Navy.

A Navy sailor hailed as one of the two “heroes”, who stopped and subdued the shooter at Club Q, an LGBTQI nightclub in Colorado Springs, US, has finally broken his silence.

Trigger Warning! This story is about the mass shooting at a gay club. It may be distressing for some readers. Lifeline can be reached at 13 11 14 for 24-hour crisis assistance and suicide prevention. QLife is available for peer support in Australia, call 1800 184 527 to chat or dial QLife at 1800 84 527.

Thomas James, a second-class petty officers in the US Navy is currently in recovery at Centura Penrose Hospital Colorado Springs. 

The Navy released a statement confirming that Thomas James was among the victims of the shooting at Colorado Springs nightclub on November 19, in which five people were killed and 19 more were injured.

“James is currently in stable condition and we remain hopeful he will make a full recovery,” the Navy had said in a statement last week.

‘I Would Shield Everyone’
“I simply wanted to save the family I found,” James said in his first public comments after the shooting at Club Q. 

“If I had my way, I would shield everyone I could from the nonsensical acts of hate in the world, but I am only one person,” said James in a statement issued through the hospital spokesperson. 

“Thankfully, we are family, and family looks after one another,” James said. “We came a long way from Stonewall. Bullies aren’t invincible. I want to offer my support to anyone who has suffered the pain and loss of these past few years. My thoughts are with those we lost on November 19, and those who are still recovering from their injuries.”

James had a message to young people. “To the youth, I say be brave. Your family is always there. You are valued and loved. So when you come out of the closet, come out swinging.” 

‘Heroes’ Stopped Club Q Shooter
Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, had entered Club Q on Saturday night dressed in tactical gear and began shooting at staff and patrons. Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez had hailed the “heroic actions” of US Army veteran Richard Fierro and Navy sailor Thomas James, who confronted and subdued the shooter, saving lives, 

“They were able to stop the suspect from continuing to kill and harm others,” the police chief had said. 

Fierro, who was at the Club with his family to watch a drag performance by one of his daughter’s high school friends, told media persons that he had “grabbed the pistol” from Aldrich and “started whaling on him”. Fierro recalled James tackled the shooter with him, fell to the ground and pushed one of the guns away from the shooter’s hands. Then James, at Fierro’s urging, repeatedly kicked Aldrich in the face. 

Fierro’s daughter’s boyfriend Raymond Green Vance was one of those who died in the shooting. The other deceased victims were identified as trans woman and Denver resident Kelly Loving (40),  trans man and bartender Daniel Ashton (20), bartender Derrick Rump (38) and community worker Ashley Paugh .

Aldrich, who was presented before a judge last week, is currently facing multiple murder and hate crimes charges. He He is expected to be officially charged at a hearing in court on December 6, 2022. 

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