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Five Killed and Many Others Wounded by Gunman Who Opened Fire at LGBTQ Nightclub in Colorado Springs; Interview with Man Who Stopped Gunman at LGBTQ Nightclub and Co-Owner of Nightclub about Their Experiences That Night; Hero Vet, Bar Owner Meet For First Time Since Shooting; Arizona Elections Official Moved To Undisclosed Location On Election Day; Hobbs: Biden Is Not Doing Enough To Tackle Border Crisis. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired November 22, 2022 - 08:00   ET



DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Good Tuesday morning to you. Thank you so much for joining us. It is November 22nd. And welcome to CNN THIS MORNING.

We have to start with this disturbing story, of course, coming out of Colorado Springs. We now know the names of all five victims killed in that nightclub shooting and we're learning more about who they were. In just a moment here, we're going to hear from the hero Army veteran who took down the gunman and saved countless lives.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Also, Maricopa County, Arizona, has been a hotbed of election denialism. Now what we've learned about a top election official there forced into hiding on Election Day because of threats. We will ask Governor-elect of Arizona Katie Hobbs about that and about the refusal of her opponent Kari Lake to accept results.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Also this morning, with Republicans set to narrowly take over the House in January, Kevin McCarthy is angling to become House speaker. We'll see if he ultimately does. But in the meantime, he is renewing his threat to remove a Democratic lawmaker from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. We'll talk about that and more with the current House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

LEMON: As you can see, it is a very busy news day but we're going to start with this. The alleged gunman who murdered five people at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs faces murder and hate crime charges this morning. That's according to court records. He remains hospitalized and he's being held without bail. We're learning a lot more about victims from people who knew and loved them. They are Daniel Aston, Raymond Green Vance, Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh, and Derrick Rump. All of them had so much to live for.

COLLINS: And many of them were so young. Kelly loving had just turned 40. She was excited about her recent move to Colorado Springs to experience the LGBTQ community. And 28-year-old Daniel Aston had moved to Colorado Springs two years ago. He wanted to be closer to his mom and to his dad. He had been a bar supervisor at Club Q and he was considered by his peers to be a great boss. Derrick Rump was also a bartender at Club Q. Friends say that he found a community of people that he loved. He felt he could shine there. But all accounts he did.

HARLOW: Ashley Paugh was a devoted mother. Her daughter Riley (ph) was her world. Ashley's family says she had a huge heart and worked at a Kids Crossing, a nonprofit that finds homes for foster children.

And 22-year-old Raymond Green Vance was visiting Club Q for the first time with his longtime girlfriend, her parents, and some of her parent's friends.

LEMON: So the group Vance was dining with included our next guest, Richard Fierro, the retired Army veteran who subdued the suspected gunman. Good morning to you. Listen, tell me what did you say?

RICHARD FIERRO, TOOK DOWN GUNMAN AT CLUB Q SHOOTING: I'm not retired. And I know it sounds weird, but I'm not. I got out at 15 years because I was done, I was broke, I couldn't keep up, OK. This kind of stuff is for certain people. I'm not one of those. I'm just a regular guy, man. I respect what you guys do. I respect how this all goes, but the thing I just saw -- listen. I've been in the Army for 15 years from 99 to 14 or 13, whatever it was. I will you I work with folks, I still work with folks that do not believe in any of the stuff I believe in, but we have a mission and we get it done. And that's in the civilian world, too. And we respect each other.

LEMON: Hey, Richard, hey, Richard, listen, I want to rein it in here so people can understand, because I know the last couple of days, I can only imagine how emotional it's been for you. Have you gotten any sleep? Probably not.


LEMON: OK, so, look. You say you're a regular guy. People are saying that you're a hero. I know that you don't believe that.

FIERRO: It's hard to believe.


FIERRO: There's five families that don't have their kids. Raymond was a kid, and he's been in my house for the last six years. He's met all my family. He's met my wife's family. He's gone with us on trips. He was part of our family. And I can't speak to Raymond because that's his mother's position. I'm not trying to take that.

LEMON: We should explain, Raymond was your daughter's friend, right --


LEMON: -- and who died, and you -- go on, say again?

FIERRO: Yes, he was her boyfriend and he was a part of our life since she was in high school. I went to his football games. We sat in the audience with his mom. [08:05:00]

I watched him play. I loved it because I was a lineman, too, he was, and that's kind of what we did. So we joked with each other. Again, I'm his girlfriend's dad. It's not the relationship everybody wants to be, hey, this is going to work out really well. I'm a protective guy. But Raymond was a respectful boy. He was a good young man. I'm sorry, he was a young man. And I think he did -- I'll be honest, I hope to God, and I believe it. I believe he was doing his best to save people himself.

LEMON: OK, so listen, you were there with Raymond and your daughter, and you were there -- I want to explain to people how this went down. You were there with your family, your wife, Raymond, your daughter. Raymond is her boyfriend. You went to see a friend of your daughter's who was performing in this drag show, right?

FIERRO: Yes, a little while.

LEMON: OK. So then this all happens, this all breaks out, and you lose Raymond, the boyfriend.

So listen, it's interesting that you were there because people think it's a gay club, it's just going to be gay people. And I thought it was important that you, as an ally, were there with your entire family just there to have a good time, and you became a witness, a firsthand witness to the hate that members of the LGBTQ community face. Am I wrong with that?

FIERRO: No. I would agree with that, and I think you're right there. I don't know what this guy's intention was. Honestly, I don't care. He was trying to hurt us, all of us. And at that point in that room we were all together. There was no differences between any of us. I have always supported our community, whether it's LGBTQ, Asian, black, whatever. In the Army I was exposed to all that, and I had a chance to meet people that were not like me. I had never had collard greens until I got in the Army. I didn't know what grits were. It changes who you are because that diversity brings it forward. And that's my wife's thing with what she was doing with the brewery and that's why we support different places within the community.

LEMON: You say that you don't know what the motive was. He is being charged, obviously, with five counts of murder, and then the five counts of hate crime charges, as well. So investigators do believe that it was motivated by hate. What do you say to folks who say, listen, you had never had collard greens or whatever. You didn't experience great diversity until you went to the armed forces. What do you say to people who use LGBTQ people, gay people, trans people as pawns politically or just to hate them?

FIERRO: I'll be honest, nobody needs to be used as anything. Look, I don't claim to be one side or the other. I'm a fan of the Colin Powells and the Barack Obamas and the John McCains. These guys had values. And to me it's all about value and staying family oriented. Nothing to me from that guy said family. And that's all that mattered. And the people in that room were so diverse, so completely -- there were straight people in there, everything in there. They just came to have a good time.

As a matter of fact, we were talking last night, me and my daughter and my wife. We've been upset. We were talking and we said, that was the greatest night we were having with Raymond and Chip and Joann. The six of us were having a great time just enjoying the show, and then the girls got a chance to dance after. Raymond was dancing with me daughter. And it was awesome. And a young man that was dancing near my daughter is the one that pulled her out of there when the shooting started. I was sitting down.

I'm telling you, everybody in there has a story. I don't think mine is any more special. I understand that it comes off that way as different. But I just want people to be good to each other, man. And that's it. I've seen really bad stuff, deployed, and here. I don't like it.

LEMON: Let me talk to you about that, if you will. And I don't mean to cut you off, but let me talk to you about that, because you were there and you helped to subdue the gunman. And there were others who helped you, as well. One was a performer. What happened that your training kicked in? What sparked this all off, if you don't mind going through it again?

FIERRO: Yes, so I went to the ground like everybody did. And then when I rolled to get up, because I knew I had to do something, I rolled to get up and I actually fell backwards in to like a seating area, bench seating. And I fell into that. And as I fell into it, I hit my, back and I looked up, and I just saw the flag fist in like a window door, and I saw people behind it.


And this guy was standing in front of it. I didn't know if he was shooting, getting ready to shoot. I have no idea. I went black -- not black at that point, but I went, hey, I've got to stop this guy. So I ran across the room and I pulled him down. A young man who, I believe, was trying to hide himself there in the corner jumped up with me. I don't know if he helped me pull him down. I think the Thomas (ph) kid, I can't remember all these names. But the kid jumped up with me and we pulled him down, and his rifle came to the left -- or he fell to his left side. And when I put him down his rifle was in front of them. The young man that tried to help me was in front of him with his feet toward his head. And I started yelling get his AR, and I was going for the pistol.

So the young man, Thomas (ph), pushed the AR away. We were both trying to keep all the weapons away from him. The guy was reaching for weapons and whatever he could reach for and he was still fighting. And then I just started hitting him to make him to stop fighting. I'm not letting him get back up. And Thomas (ph), I told him, hey, many, kick, kick, kick, kick this guy, kick this guy. And it's not natural for people to do that to people. That kid has got to live with that for the rest of his life. He was kicking somebody on the top of his head. That's not -- but we had to do it, right. LEMON: Then someone else came over and started kicking?

FIERRO: Yes. So he was getting tired or he was hurt, I don't know. And he slowed down. I said don't slow down. And as I was yelling, hey, call 911, somebody get some help. And then somebody, and it may not have been a performer, but somebody in high heels walked by or was running by. And I said help. This guy kick -- he's slowing down. He was tired. It felt like a year. We didn't know how long we were going to be doing this. And I just kept swinging as best I could. I don't know if I did anything. I don't know if they did anything, but we stopped him. That's all we could do.

LEMON: Richard, listen.

FIERRO: That's all that mattered.

LEMON: There are a lot of people who are grateful because, sadly, five people are dead, many more were injured, but it could have been worse. And there are people who do think you're a hero. One of them is the co-owner of Club Q, Nic Grzecka, and he joins us now. Nic, I know that you've been wanting to meet Richard, and here's your chance. Hello to you. What do you have to say to him?

NIC GRZECKA, CO-OWNER, CLUB Q: Richard, thank you. You were a big part of saving many more lives and stopping this from being worse than it already was. We applaud you. And I can't wait to give you a big hug. Sorry for your loss, as well.

LEMON: Richard, do you want to respond?

FIERRO: Thank you. Listen, you guys have a great establishment. I run a business, too. This is hard. We just went through COVID. We're barely making it. Everybody is barely making it. And I was in there, and it wasn't packed. We were in there, and it was a good crowd but it wasn't packed. And it was a safe space. I was like OK, cool, there's no problems here. No issues. Everything is going good.

And I commend you for doing what you do, man. We try to do that. Our whole thing is diversity is on tap. My wife's vision is the beer summit that Obama had. She wants people to sit down with a beer, and it means, hey, there's no judgment. We're going have a good time together. And that's what her goal is, and I know that's your goal, too. And that's all we can do is try. As business owners it tends to be very vanilla. We've kind of done something that's not vanilla, if you will. And we're trying to step out there and make a change, a difference, if we can. And I think you've done that. I'm trying. We're just a four-year business. We're trying.

LEMON: Richard -- what do you want to say, Nic?

GRZECKA: I just can't say thank you enough. I'm just so happy you were there. You're an angel to many people in this community.

LEMON: So Nic, listen, I want to talk to you --

FIERRO: Thank you for what you do. LEMON: I want to talk to both of you, and especially you, Nic, and my colleagues, I'm sure, have some questions here, because we've been talking about all this hate in America, and especially when it comes to LGBTQ people. Both of them are allies and have gone to bars with our gay friends. But Nic, you want to say something to our leaders and the politicians out there who you believe are helping to fuel this.

GRZECKA: Yes. I think that words are important. The words you use every day are so important. They can cause so much love or hate. You might think that words are so small and insignificant and it's getting your point across.


But these politicians making drag queens out to the deplorable people, these aren't true things. And it makes -- it makes people do things that are hate-filled such as (INAUDIBLE).

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Say again? I lost the last part of what you said, Nic.

GRZECKA: No, I said it makes people filled with so much hate do things like we saw this weekend. And I think that politicians need to understand that this is bigger than them getting votes, than making up lies about the LGBT community, when they don't understand it. It's sad, just so they can get a point across. They're taking our lives and our safe spaces to push their agenda through.

LEMON: Richard, you're shaking your head.

RICHARD FIERRO, TOOK DOWN GUNMAN IN CLUB Q SHOOTING: No, I agree with him. Listen, like I said, I don't jump on any side. I jump on people. You know, I love people. And I -- and I think what they're doing is amazing. I think I grew up around a mix of everything. And being able to share and exchange cultures, it's -- that's part of being an American. I'm a proud American. I'm a proud supporter of everybody, you know? And I think that's kind of where people just need to go back to. I applaud what they're doing. And I applaud folks that have the courage to tell their parents, you know, hey, I'm coming out. That's hard -- that's harder than anything I think I've done. I couldn't do it if I -- if I had to. Its challenges is huge.

But, Don, I watched when you -- me and my wife, our favorite night was New Year's Eve. You and Brooke were having a great time in New Orleans. And we had just gone down the Mississippi Blues Trail. And that moment, we were like, you know, that's what it's about. And you guys were just enjoying yourselves with the crowd, having a good time, nobody was judging anybody. And it was beautiful. Much like the Beer Summit with -- that Obama did. Those are things that, for us, as people that sell beer, people that have people with libations, right, want people to have fun. But at the end of the day, you want to shake hands and love each other. You know, that's what it's all about.

LEMON: Nic, do you have concerns about the -- I'm going to give you the last word here, the final word, but do you have concerns about the division in our country and where we're heading? Because you were trying to offer a safe space. And sadly, someone interrupted that so violently.

GRZECKA: I do. I am -- I am sad and scared about where this nation is going. What's happened to us this weekend as a community is happening around the nation. These politics are tearing our gay communities apart. You see what's happening in New York with the bricks being thrown at bars. This is -- this is not -- this is not good. This is not safe. And our politicians are helping drive this narrative. And they can also help stop it.

LEMON: Yes. Thank you, Nic. Thank you, Richard. You guys are very brave. And I could talk a lot longer with you. But listen, move on because we're going to discuss this more. Thank you so much. That's all I can say. Because I'm going to burst to tears right now. I appreciate it. I'm sorry, Eric, what did you say? Oh, couldn't he -- OK, we're going to go to break, and we'll discuss right after this. We'll be right back.



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN THIS MORNING. Disturbing news that we have learned, and that is that the -- one of the top election officials in Arizona's largest county was taken to an undisclosed location on Election Day for his own safety. The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates spent election night at a secure location under police protection because of a specific threat made to him online. He is still receiving increased security. Gates a face you've seen a lot on this network is a Republican who first gained notoriety for pushing back against Trump's election lies centered on Arizona in 2020. He has continued to refute election lies spread by some of his fellow Republicans, including the losing gubernatorial candidate in Arizona Kari Lake. Joining us now is Arizona Secretary of State and Governor-elect Katie Hobbs. Governor, congratulations and good morning.

KATIE HOBBS (D), GOVERNOR-ELECT OF ARIZONA: Thank you. Good morning to you as well.

HARLOW: Your reaction to this news that we just learned about Republican, you know, election official in your state, Bill Gates.

HOBBS: Yes, I mean, I think Arizonans and American sent a strong message to these election deniers that we're ready to move on. But unfortunately, they are still ginning up these attacks on those responsible for our elections, based on their false allegations. And they're basically just being a sore loser. And we cannot tolerate it. This has to end. And, you know, I think we survived a lot in this last election. We helped save democracy, but it's not over. And we have to continue to be vigilant and hold these folks accountable for their dangerous political record -- rhetoric that is causing this kind of threat.

HARLOW: You know, you are about to govern the State of Arizona. And this is a -- this was a hard-fought campaign. You won but the difference was just over 17,000 votes. So, that means you're going to represent a lot of folks who wanted Kari Lake to be the governor.


HARLOW: A lot of Republicans who disagree with you on a lot of views on abortion, which I know is the number one thing you're going to take on as governor. You're going to oversee a state with about 40,000 public employees a budget around $60 billion annually. Can you talk to us about how you are going to do that in a way where the people who didn't vote for you actually feel represented by you?

HOBBS: Certainly, I mean, I ran this campaign talking to Arizonans. I wasn't focused on if they were Democrats or Republicans. And the issues I talked to them about our Arizona issues, fixing our water crisis, funding our neglected public schools, protecting reproductive rights, affordability, those are all things that Arizonans care about and are struggling with right now.


And I have promised that I'm going to be a governor for all Arizonans, whether you supported me in this election or not. I'm ready to get to work to tackle these tough issues. And that means bringing people together from all across the state, from all political parties, to help tackle them. I had a strong coalition of Republicans supporting me in this race because they chose sanity over chaos. And I'm going to continue to make sure that our administration is inclusive of all those viewpoints. Because these are not Democrat or Republican issues. They're Arizona issues.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: And one of the big Arizona issues, Governor-elect, is the border and immigration. And so, when it comes to that, what's your intent on that? Are you going to -- how different is your border policy going to look from your predecessor, from Doug Ducey's? Are you going to reverse anything that he did on that front?

HOBBS: Well, look, as a border state, Arizona has certainly borne the brunt of decades of inaction from both parties in Washington. We need real action on immigration reform. We need real border security. But in the meantime, I -- you know, a lot of things that Governor Ducey has done, putting migrants on buses to Washington D.C., placing shipping containers at the border are really political stunts at the expense of taxpayer dollars, where we could really be using those dollars where they're meaningful, providing meaningful relief and border communities that are feeling the effects of, you know, crime at the border. And I have a border plan that's been endorsed by two border sheriffs. It's one of the things at the top of my agenda to talk to the President about in terms of bringing real security to our state and the border.

COLLINS: And on that front about speaking to the President, do you want him to visit the border? Do you think his administration is doing enough when it comes to the border?

HOBBS: I've said this, I don't think they're doing enough. I would love to have them visit and see firsthand the kind of support and relief that folks in these communities need from the federal government.

LEMON: Governor-elect, do you have a message for your opponent who is -- keeps spreading these election denial conspiracies much as, you know, the former president did? She's doing it locally as he is doing it nationally. That has to -- I think that will also affect how you govern and your legislative agenda, I'm sure.

HOBBS: Absolutely. I mean, look, I'm not focused on what my former opponent is doing. I'm focused on all the things we need to do to get ready to lead on day one of my administration, but this kind of political record -- rhetoric, these false accusations, they need to stop because many people across the State of Arizona and across the country are being misled by these so-called political leaders, and their rhetoric is dangerous, and it's leading to threats and violence, and it needs to stop.

COLLINS: Governor-elect Hobbs, congratulations on your win. Thank you for joining us. We hope you'll come back on the program many more times.

HOBBS: Thank you so much for having me.

LEMON: Thank you.

COLLINS: All right. House Republicans are already discussing the major investigations they plan to launch when they formally take over in January. Now, that they have won the House back just by a little bit, we're going to talk to the current House Majority Leader Democratic, Congressman Steny Hoyer about how Democrats plan to deal with that incoming Republican majority. That's next.