Return to Transcripts main page

The Situation Room

Murder And Hate Crime Charges Facing The Shooter Of The LGBTQ Club In Colorado; Trump's Possible Rivals Considering Post-Trump Future For The Republican Party; Democrats Worried A Younger Republican Could Biden Replace In 2024; Rep. Ro Khanna, (D-CA), Is Interviewed About Hakeem Jeffries; Jeffries: Dems Can Have "Noisy Conversations" And Still Be United. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired November 21, 2022 - 17:00   ET




WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, the suspect in the deadly Colorado nightclub shooting now facing murder and hate crime charges. We're standing by for an official update from police this hour.

Also tonight, Donald Trump's Republican rivals are sending their clearest signals yet that they're ready to take him on for the 2024 presidential nomination. Many of them pointing the finger directly at the former president for the GOP's disappointing midterm performance.

Plus, growing fears of a potential radioactive disaster in Ukraine after powerful explosions rocked a nuclear power plant. The top inspectors at the United Nations warning against, quote, "playing with fire."

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We begin our coverage tonight in Colorado Springs, Colorado, a community shattered by the massacre inside an LGBTQ nightclub. The suspected shooter facing multiple murder and hate crime charges after allegedly gunning down five people. CNN's Rosa Flores is joining us right now. Rosa, tell us about the latest survivor accounts.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we are hearing for the first time from one of the individuals who charged the gunman. This is according to "The New York Times." Richard Fierro telling "The New York Times" that he was at Club Q with his wife, with his daughter, they were watching a show when all of a sudden shots rang out.

Now, what you've got to understand about Fierro, him telling "The New York Times," is that he served in the U.S. Army for 15 years. He served four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he says that his training kicked in, his instincts kicked in.

According to what he told "The New York Times," he says that he charged towards the gunman, tackled him to the ground, and then beat him. I'm going to read you some quotes directly from Mr. Fierro, saying, quote, "I don't know exactly what I did. I just went into combat mode. I just know I have to kill this guy before he kills us." Then they ask him, "Was he shooting at the time? Was he about to shoot?" Fierro responds, "I don't know. I just knew I had to take him down." An act that now officials here say most likely saved countless lives.


MICHAEL ANDERSON, BARTENDER, CLUB Q: I was bartending, making drinks, and then I heard like a pop, pop, pop. Once I looked up and I saw the shadow of a grown man wielding a rifle.

FLORES (voice-over): Authorities are now calling it a hate crime, the shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs that left five people dead and at least 19 others injured. Barrett Hudson says he was shot seven times but miraculously escaped serious injury.

BARRETT HUDSON, SURVIVOR: I see a door kind of shut and there's a gunman. There was a man in front of him. He put his hands up a little bit and took two steps back and the dude just killed him.

FLORES (voice-over): Tiara Kelley says she was performing at Club Q that night.

TIARA KELLEY, CLUB Q PRODUCER AND PERFORMER: This guy, the look on his face was full of hate. It was complete hatred. He walked by and went to the patio and then came back through again.

FLORES (voice-over): The shooting started just before midnight on Saturday night. At 11:57 p.m., someone at the bar called 911 and police started dispatching officers.

UNKNOWN: Active shooter. We are getting reports of four to seven possibly injured.

UNKNOWN: Start doing triage. Have we made a reach to the hospitals to see We'll reach out to hospitals to see if they can handle all the patients, we're sending them.

FLORES (voice-over): The first officer arrived on scene at 12:00 a.m. The shooter was stopped by two men inside the club. According to authorities, they confronted and fought with the suspect, took his handgun and hit him with it.

ED SANDERS, SURVIVOR: God bless them. It could have been a lot worse if they hadn't stepped in when they did.

ADRIAN VELASQUEZ, COLORADP SPRINGS POLICE: Two absolute heroes. If not for them I don't know how many other people would have been injured.

FLORES (voice-over): At 12:02 a.m., the suspect was in custody.

UNKNOWN: Suspect has been detained. FLORES (voice-over): The suspect, 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich is in the hospital. Two law enforcement sources telling CNN he bought the weapons used in the attack, now he's facing five charges of first- degree murder, as well as charges related to a possible bias motivated crime.


Aldrich was arrested last year over a bomb threat at his mother's home. The surrender captured on camera. But local media report no formal charges were pursued and his records were sealed according to the district attorney. Police have tried to speak to his mother.

VELASQUEZ: She has not been cooperative with law enforcement.

FLORES (voice-over): This close-knit LGBTQ community in Colorado Springs now struggling to find a way forward.

SANDERS: I'm doing okay considering I lost some friends that I care about, and I don't think it's really sunk in yet.


FLORES (on camera): Now, Ed Sanders also told me that when the shots rang out and he fell to the floor, he was shot twice. He says that it was a moment that he will never forget. It was people helping people. He says that he was on the ground, he was still conscious, and he could hear individuals trying to help each other, asking for tourniquets to save lives.

Now, just in to the "CNN Newsroom," we've also learned that the suspect's grandfather is the outgoing California assemblyman, Randy Voepel. He's been serving since 2016. Now, it is unclear to CNN just how much interaction he had with the suspect. We've reached out to Voepel's office and we have not heard back. And, Wolf, we are expecting to learn more details. We are expecting a press conference from police and other city officials within the next half hour. Wolf?

BLITZER: Yeah. We're standing by for that press conference. We'll have (inaudible) live coverage as soon as it begins. Rosa Flores on the scene for us. Thank he very much.

I want to bring in right now the Colorado Springs Fire Chief Randy Royal. He managed the rescue efforts as emergency crews responded to the shooting. Chief, thank you so much for joining us. Tell us what your team experienced when you and them responded to this massacre.

RANDY ROYAL, CHIEF, COLORADO SPRINGS FIRE DEPARTMENT: Obviously, this is an unfortunate event for our community, but the response from both the Colorado Springs police department and the Colorado Springs fire department was phenomenal. I would like to say that when you have a tragic event like this, obviously there's a lot of things that line up to be a bad event.

But I will say that also a lot of things happened very -- in a very positive and good way to keep this from being worse, including the individual that you were just talking about that was a bystander that chose to get involved. His actions definitely saved lives. For us, we got the response at about 12:01, is when we were dispatched and arrived on scene about six minutes later.

Again, a good thing that fell into place was the police officer that was only three minutes away, that then was able to go in and handcuff the shooter, which opened the door for our units. As soon as they arrived on scene, which was at 12:09, they were able to immediately go in. So, that's something we're -- if the suspect isn't contained yet then we have to stage for a while until we get at least a cover of police officers to go in.

So, that situation happening the way it did really helped us out. We were able to move in quickly. We had about 34 firefighters on scene and the time -- from the time that they arrived at 12:09, it took 20 minutes to transport all the patients, which is a very good rapid movement of those patients.

BLITZER: Very good, indeed. What are you hearing, chief, from survivors and the larger community there tonight?

ROYAL: Well, obviously there's a lot of concern that this could happen in our community. You know, none of us could believe this and also, at the same time, you know, we've seen this happen in other communities around the nation. So, that's, you know, that's where our hearts go out to all those people.

But on the other side, there's lots of stories of heroic -- excuse me -- heroic actions and life-saving measures that took place. We did have one individual that I think was on CNN here earlier that actually had been shot seven times. He made it out of the bar and across to a local convenience store where one of our agents spotted him and rolled right up him directly and started working on him. He looks like he's going to be one that's going to walk out of the hospital, which is just a true blessing.

BLITZER: It certainly is. Chief Randy Royal, thank you very much for joining us.

Right now, I want to discuss all of this with CNN counterterrorism analyst Phil Mudd and CNN law enforcement analyst Jonathan Wackrow. Phil, we're standing by for this news conference. It's about to begin this hour. We'll get new information. What will you be listening for? What questions do you hope investigators can answer about this horrendous massacre?


PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I mean, there's one specific question we're going to wait to hear and it's already been a while. There should have been interviews, reviews for example, the individual's social media. I gather from media reports that the perpetrator or alleged perpetrator is not speaking, so motive is one.

There's already talk about hate crime charges which suggests that the prosecutors know motive already. I think the bigger question, Wolf, getting into this case and going into politics and broader questions, is about triggers. That is, we're aware now based on reports about this individual's violent interaction with his mother.

The question is going to be, of course, why this person wasn't on a list that would have disallowed him from acquiring those two weapons. That's the biggest question I want to hear today answered.

BLITZER: Yeah. Let's see if they answer that question. You know, walk us through, Phil, what investigators are doing right now behind the scenes. What are they looking for and what are their next steps?

MUDD: There's a few pieces of this you have to think about. The broadest pieces I would say are the human piece and the digital piece. You're talking about interviews with family but that's got to spread out to interviews with friends, interviews obviously with people who were witnesses in the bar, you have to talk to people who were schoolmates.

You're not only talking about the investigation now, but you're talking about the investigation going forward so the prosecutors know everything they can find out about this case to ensure that they can go to trial properly. The digital piece has a bunch of dimensions. There are the pieces about text messaging. There are the pieces about what this person was searching on social media that might have suggested motivation.

And then there's going to be the community piece. You've got to talk to the community about safety, about how to keep yourself safe. You got to talk to the LGBTQ community about what the future holds. That's going to go on for months and maybe years, Wolf.

BLITZER: You know, Jonathan, we heard the really incredible story of one of the brave people who subdued the gunman. How much worse could this have been without these good Samaritans?

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, it could have been a lot worse, right? But I go back to what, you know, Phil was just saying. You know, we have to look at, you know, some of these indicators of the suspect right now and look at what was missed. Some of these red flags that were potentially missed in terms of behavior Could this have been -- should have been, you know, mitigated in advance? And I think it could have been.

But in the moments of this act, we had multiple heroes here inside of the club who literally, you know, stopped this act from occurring and getting worse. You know, this actually brings into the conversation recasting the whole notion of run, hide, fight, right? People think of this as a continuum where, you know, you have to run first, then hide, then fight.

But when you have nowhere else to go and you're in that moment, it is a fight for survival, and we saw individuals stand up and take these heroic acts, which did cause, you know, the suspect to stop engaging in the active killing and allowed the police to come in very rapidly, within six minutes. And as we just heard the chief say before, that act, those two

individuals, by subduing that suspect, allowing law enforcement to come in, make the scene safe, they were able to actively get to those victims and save more lives. So, a lot of dynamics going on in a very compressed time period.

BLITZER: You know, Jonathan, we're getting some new video that's coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now that appears to show the gunman ranting about police in a standoff last year. Let's watch this.


UNKNOWN: This is your boy. I've got the (BLEEP) outside. Look at that, they've got a beat on me. You see that right there? (BLEEP) got their (BLEEP) rifles out. If they breach, I'm going to (BLEEP) blow it to holy hell. So, go ahead and come on in, boys. Let's (BLEEP) see it.


BLITZER: So, Jonathan, what's your reaction to that?

WACKROW: You know, this is anti-authority behavior, right? This type of behavior in that moment is one of those red flags that I had discussed, right? Behavior runs on a continuum, you know. It is not normal, Wolf, for someone to walk into any location and start actively killing other individuals.

We have to take those moments, right, you know, take that behavior that we have seen and address it to prevent, you know, future horrific acts. And in this case, it was a fail. It was missed warning sign. It was a missed red flag. You know, the community, you know, different practitioners, whether it's law enforcement, mental health practitioners, behavioral health practitioners, all have to come together to address those types of behavioral anomalies before they transcend into these violent acts.

BLITZER: Jonathan Wackrow, Phil Mudd, guys, thank you very much.

Coming up, we're standing by for officials in Colorado Springs to hold a news conference on the nightclub massacre this hour. We'll have live coverage.

Plus, former President Trump's GOP rivals are dropping hints about their intention to run against him in 2024. Why they say it's time for the party to move on from Trump.



BLITZER: We're standing by for that news conference out of Colorado Springs. When it happens, we'll bring it to you live. Local authorities will brief us on the massacre that occurred there.

Also tonight, as President Biden weighs whether or not to run for re- election, Democrats behind the scenes tell CNN that they're much more confident after seeing the midterm results that Mr. Biden is their best bet to beat Trump in 2024. But they worry President Biden would lose to a younger Republican foe. CNN's Jeremy Diamond is over at the White House for us. So, what are you picking up over there, Jeremy?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, President Biden hit a major milestone yesterday, turning 80-years-old becoming the first octogenarian president of the United States and in the process, reviving this debate that has swirled around the Democratic Party for a couple of years now about whether or not the president should run for re-election.

Heading into the holidays, also, the president is set to have these discussions with his family as he spends time with his family in Nantucket over Thanksgiving and then is expected to also head away for the Christmas holidays and towards the New Year as well. That will be a time for him to discuss with his family.

To be clear, so far, the president has said it is his intention to run again for re-election.


And while Democrats' precedent-defying midterm showing in these midterm elections has calmed some of those questions and certainly reinforced among Democrats that they feel like Biden would be a strong candidate against former President Trump, there are still some anxieties among Democrats about the possibility of Biden running against a younger Republican candidate in 2024, such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, for example.

But I must say when you speak with Biden advisers here, look, this is a team of folks who constantly feel like they are underestimated, like they were underestimated in the 2020 presidential campaign, underestimated in these midterm elections and that they feel, once again, that this is their time to show people, show Democrats and others that they can defy those expectations once again.

BLITZER: All right, Jeremy, stay with us. I also want to bring in CNN national correspondent Kristen Holmes and CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein. Ron, what do you make of these fears from some Democrats that a younger Republican might actually prove to be a difficult challenger for Biden in 2024?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, those are not unreasonable fears, but they are somewhat irrelevant at this point because one thing that we have known I think for quite some time is that Joe Biden considers it his final mission in American politics to prevent Donald Trump from ever being president again, because he views Trump, I think correctly, as an existential threat to American democracy.

And as long as Trump is running, Biden is running. And even if Trump is defeated for the nomination, that will be way past the point where Biden could decide not to run. So, while there were warning signs for Biden in the midterm election, two-thirds of voters in the exit polls said they hope he did not run again, that rose almost three-quarters of independents, he is on a track to do so.

And by and large, as Jeremy noted, the results in the key states that decided the 2020 race, the five states that flipped from Trump in '16 to Biden in '20, were encouraging for Democrats, particularly against Trump, but also potentially against other Republicans, especially if they support restrictions on abortion.

BLITZER: Kristen, I know you're doing a lot of reporting on this as well. Given the better-than-expected midterm results for Democrats in the House and Senate, what are Republicans saying about going up against Biden in 2024?

KRISTEN HOLMES CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this might be one thing that some Republicans and Democrats agree on. I have heard from a number of Republican operatives who believe that the only person who can't beat President Biden in 2024 is Donald Trump. That they are concerned about that. That they believe that they could actually beat Biden in an election if they had a younger, fresher candidate. And this has caused a lot of concern.

As we have heard on multiple occasions, has that they believe the conditions were right for a red wave and that the problem was many of the candidates that were chosen, many of them who were endorsed by former President Donald Trump. The one thing to take away here, though, is that as Ron just said, it's not clear what will happen in the nomination process.

We're hearing from so many Republicans who are saying they want somebody different from former President Trump, but they're still very concerned that he could end up the nominee, particularly looking back at 2016 when there was such a large slate of candidates, which is what we are expecting this time around, that they essentially split the GOP electorate and pave the way for Donald Trump. And there's a lot of people who are saying it feels a lot like deja vu as we head into 2024.

BLITZER: You know, Kristen, several Republican 2024 hopefuls, including some who were very close to Donald Trump, are now making the case that it's time to move on. Listen to this.


LARRY HOGAN, GOVERNOR OF MARYLAND: Trump was saying that we would be winning so much we'd get tired of winning. Well, I'm sick and tired of our party losing.

CHRIS CHRISTIE, FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY: The fact of the matter is, the reason we're losing is because Donald Trump has put himself before everybody else.

MIKE POMPEO, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: We have to find people who are putting themselves forward who have character, commitment, and real confidence. Personality and celebrity just aren't going to get it done. We can see that.

NIKKI HALEY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: We have to look in the mirror. The Republican Party has lost the popular vote in the last seven out of eight presidential elections. That's saying something.

MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I truly do believe to win the future we as Republicans and our elected leaders must do more than criticize and complain. We must unite our party around a bold optimistic agenda that offers a clear choice and lays a lasting foundation for victory in 2024 and beyond.


BLITZER: So, Kristen, what should we take away from that?

HOLMES: Well, there are two big takeaways. One is that former president Trump is not nearly as scary to Republicans as he was even a year ago. You cans see people who are close to him, allies, essentially talking around him, talking about how they're going to run in 2024, despite the fact that the former president has already announced.


The other thing to take away is that it's going to be a very big full slate of Republicans who want to be president in 2024. This is just the beginning. This was just the opening of the door. And you already heard people basically auditioning for 2024 and testing out how they would run against former president Donald Trump. And you're going to see a wide range here.

You saw everyone from Mike Pompeo and former Vice President Mike Pence, they are going to be running on this idea that they are Trump policies without the baggage. And then you also saw people who are running completely against him. So, it's going to -- we're just getting started, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yeah, go ahead, Ron.

BROWNSTEIN: I only have two points. You know, first, to amplify what Kristen was saying. You know, the Republican rules for picking their presidential nominee are very different than the Democratic rules. The Republican rules are much more winner take all oriented and that benefits whoever has the biggest block of support in the party, even if that is less than a majority.

You know, Donald Trump was the presumptive Republican nominee in 2016 before he reached 50 percent of the vote in any state. And there is a real risk to the other candidates that given the solidity of his support particularly among non-college Republicans, that they will divvy up the college-educated Republicans who've always been much more resistant to him and get themselves into a situation like 2016 again.

The other point I would make is I think Republicans are dismissing the evidence if they assume that the only problem, they have in 2024 is if Trump is on the ballot. What we saw in key swing states like Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, even Wisconsin and Georgia, was the Democratic support maintaining its 2020 and 2018 levels in those big populous white-collar suburbs of the big metros of Phoenix, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Detroit, even with a 9 percent inflation, with 401(k)s being hammered for many of the voters in those areas.

The vision of America that they associate with the Trump-era Republican Party was simply(inaudible) for them. And so, Trump may be the weakest candidate in those areas, but the idea that DeSantis is simply bulletproof there I think is way over optimistic and early.

BLITZER: All right. We shall see. Guys, thank you very, very much.

Up next, we're standing by for an update from Colorado officials after the horrific mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub. We're going to bring you that live in a few moments.

Plus, House Democrats plot out their future without Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the helm. What could that look like? Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: Right now we're standing by to bring you that news conference from Colorado Springs live. When it begins we'll have live coverage, of course.

Also tonight, House Democrats are charting their path forward not only as they move from the majority to the minority, but also with a new generation of leaders at the helm. Let's discuss what's going on with Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna of California.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us. As your party will enter the new Congress, the new House, as the minority in the House of Representatives, I want you to listen to what Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, who is poised to become your party's next leader in the House told CNN yesterday. Listen to this.


REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): Well, we will absolutely defend the Biden administration and his track record of success if it comes under assault by people attempting to politicize our governmental responsibilities without question. And I expect that we will strongly and vigorously be involved in pushing back against any effort at overreach by the extreme MAGA Republican wing of the House Republican conference.


BLITZER: So what do you think, Congressman? What's the path forward right now going to look like? And are you confident that Hakeem Jeffries is the right person to lead your Democratic Party in this new era in the House?

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA) PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS DEPUTY WHIP: Hakeem Jeffries is the perfect choice. He's a next generation leader for the party. He can build broad consensus. He has the support of all of the wings. And I'm excited about his leadership.

As he said, we are going to, one, talk about the President's achievements on infrastructure, on jobs of bringing back manufacturing, but also put forth real ideas on how to tackle inflation, on how to help working class families and see if our Republicans are actually going to be working to help solve people's problems.

BLITZER: I know, Congressman, you've said that Hakeem Jeffries will be a consensus builder, your words, what do you say to those who have questioned whether he is progressive enough to lead Democrats into the future?

KHANNA: Well, I would just say, look at his record, he has come to engage with the Progressive Caucus. Now, I don't agree with him on every issue, but I don't agree with any member of my caucus on every issue. The point is, what is his temperament? Is he willing to listen? Is he willing to take progressive seriously? And his record speaks for itself that he is.

BLITZER: House Republicans, as you know, have not been shy about revealing their plans to launch a series of investigations into the Biden administration and the President's own family. How did Democrats plan to respond to those Republican efforts in the House?

KHANNA: By pointing out that that's not what people voted for. I mean, did the Republicans put up ads saying elect us so we can do investigations in Hunter Biden? I thought the ads they ran were on the economy, on inflation. How about we solved the problems that you talked about in the campaign? How about we have real solutions that people care about.


No one ran a campaign -- o one elected anyone to do investigations.

BLITZER: Congressman Ro Khanna, thanks so much for joining us.

KHANNA: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Just ahead, no suspect and few answers one week after the brutal slaying of for Idaho college students. But tonight there is new information about the 911 call.

And we're standing by to hear from officials in Colorado Springs about the latest in the investigation into the deadly LGBTQ nightclub attack there.



BLITZER: The news conference is about to begin.

CASTRO: -- information about the victims in this case. As of noon today, we released that we have five deceased community members, that has not changed since yesterday. We have 17 community members who are injured because of a gunshot wound. We have one community member who is injured but not because of a gunshot wound. And we have one community member who was a victim with no visible injuries. This final area is the area that we expect numbers to change.

And that's why we have reached out to the community to all of our media partners to get out there, that we know there were more people at the club and we really want to speak to them. They could be victims of a crime. And so we are looking to talk to them and identify them if at all possible.

The FBI has been a great partner through this and they have set up a tip line for us. Anybody with information, if they were there, they have video, they were driving by, they might know information about the suspect anything at all, no matter how small or insignificant they believe it might be, could we please call and let us know about that. That phone number is 1-800 Call FBI, and they have dedicated people who are there to talk to anybody who calls in.

Today, we are going to have a couple of speakers. I want to go through the order of the speakers for you. Again, if the conclusion of this if there's any spelling of names that you need, we will be happy to get that to you.

The first speaker today will be Colorado Springs Police Department Chief Adrian Vasquez. The second speaker will be Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers. The third speaker will be Colorado Fourth Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen. And our final speaker will be United States Attorney Cole Finegan.

I also want to acknowledge our law enforcement, Fire and medical partners who are present today and have been supporting us and our community from the beginning. They are FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Matt Foter (ph), ATF Denver Field Division Special Agent in Charge David S. Booth, Colorado Springs Fire Department Chief Randy Royal and Penrose Hospital CEO Patrick Sharp.


At the conclusion of the designated speakers, there will be a chance to ask questions. The questions will be -- should be focused on what we are sharing today or what we have previously shared. Please understand that this is an ongoing criminal investigation. And out of respect for the judicial process, there's simply things that we just can't share information on.

First up to speak will be Colorado Springs Police Department Chief Adrian Vasquez.

CHIEF ADRIAN VASQUEZ, COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO POLICE: Thank you everybody for being here to cover this incredibly important event, just a horrific and sad and tragic event. Today, I just want to talk a little bit about some of the victims in this incident. You know, too often, society loses track of the victims of the sad and tragic events in all the talk about the suspect. We strive to give the victims the dignity and respect that they deserve as well as shine the light of public attention on the victims. Therefore, we are identifying them now.

Please know that while all of the victims' families have been notified, they are suffering a horrific loss. So, I asked everyone who is listening to keep them in your thoughts and show them the care and heartfelt compassion that they deserve. None of the families want to do media interviews at this time and I ask everyone to respect their request.

We respect all of our community members including our LGBTQ community. Therefore, we will be identifying the victims by how they identify themselves and how their families have loved and identified them.

The first person I'll identify is Kelly Loving, Kelly's pronouns are she, her. Daniel Aston, Daniel's pronoun pronouns are he, him. Derrick Rump, Derrick's pronouns are he, him. Ashley Paugh, that's P-A-U-G-H, Ashley's pronouns are she, her. Raymund Green Vance, Raymond's pronouns are he, him.

I wanted to ensure that every victim, family member and friends of victims and all of our community members know that our officers and detectives will continue to be diligent and thorough in our work to hold the suspects accountable for these horrendous acts. I also want to reiterate that the Colorado Springs Police Department and that I am standing beside you as we move through and come to a conclusion in the investigation and seek justice for all of our victims.

As I end, I ask that everyone in our community and around the world, honor each victim lived. I want to take a moment of silence to honor those community members who lost a loved one. Please join me in a moment of silence.

Thank you. I also want to identify the two heroes who intervened inside of Club Q. Their exact actions are part of the investigation, so we can't discuss the specifics out of respect for the judicial process. But with their permission, we want to acknowledge their heroic actions. They are Thomas James and Richard Fierro. Again, thank you for being here and covering this incredibly important event.

And with that, I'd like to introduce Mayor John Suthers.

MAYOR JOHN SUTHERS, COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO: Thank you, Chief. And good afternoon. Thank you for being here.

As mayor of Colorado Springs, and frankly, on behalf of all the citizens of Colorado Springs, I want to again express our heartfelt condolences and unwavering support to the victims, their families, the LGBTQ plus community and everyone affected by this tragedy. I had the opportunity before I came here today to talk to Richard Fierro, identified as one of the two heroes that subdued the suspect in this case, and in my opinion I think the opinion of everyone involved saved a lot of lives.

[17:45:06] I won't talk about, you know, the nature of what he told me about the incident. I will just simply talk about, I have never encountered a person who had engaged in such heroic actions that was so humble about it. He simply said to me, I was trying to protect my family.

I would also like to thank our community, the whole Colorado Springs community and the whole Pikes Peak region for the outpouring of support they've shown, I can't tell you how many people have reached out from the city, our region and frankly, from across the country expressing their love and support for Colorado Springs, and the Club Q community.

And speaking of the club Q community, we are joined here today by two co-owners of the club, Matthew Haynes, and Nick Gaysika (ph). Thank you for being here and thank you for the support you've shown and the cooperation you've shown in making sure that you help us reach out to the community and help us serve the ends of justice in this case.

A lot of people are wanting to know how they can help. We know that the victims and their families need our immediate and long term support. And I want to talk -- tell you about the Colorado Healing Fund. That's a fund that's been in existence for some time. Actually, it was utilized during the Boulder tragedy where several people were killed in Boulder some time ago. It's set up to provide a secure way to donate to victims and family members in incidents such as this, and they are ready and able and they've already talked about appropriating money existing in the fund to the Club Q shooting victims.

And what I want to emphasize the public is that if you choose to donate through the Colorado Healing Fund at, you can be absolutely assured the public -- your donations are going to the right place.

Now for people needing support during this emotional time, the Colorado Springs Police Department is hosting a community resource expo to provide our community members with the help they need and navigating the variety of emotions they may be experiencing surrounding this event. That expo is being held at the University of Colorado Springs, Kevin O'Neill Cybersecurity and Research Center at 36050 North Nevada Avenue. It's open today until 7:00 p.m. and Tuesday and Wednesday from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

The expo is providing mental health resources, spiritual support, emotional support, animal support, child care, emergency financial resources, LGBTQ plus support, meals and other services. Basically, whatever any person adversely impacted by this incident, whatever their needs are, they can help in supporting their needs. The event is designed to be an inclusive and safe space for all community members to gather, grieve and obtain the support they need to cope during this difficult time. If you need this, and I'm speaking to the public, please take advantage of this resource.

You can find details about both the Colorado Healing Fund and the community resource expo along with the other resources at I repeat that, Again, on behalf of the City of Colorado Springs, I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of support. We all want to ensure that our community is not defined by this tragedy, but by our response to it. Thank you very much.

Now I'll introduce Michael Allen, the District Attorney in the Fourth Judicial District.

MICHAEL ALLEN, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, EL PASO COUNTY, COLORADO: Good afternoon, everyone. And again, thank you all for being here.

The devastation this violence act has had in our community cannot be measured. But we do know that we will respond to it in a strong way, that we will hold people accountable as we identify what charges should be filed in this case. It's imperative to note that the investigation continues and will likely last for some time.

It's very common in homicide cases that the investigation continues clear up to and sometimes even during a trial in front of a jury, and that will likely be the case here. There have been reports in the media and in the public that charges had been filed, that is not true. Any case like this, an arrest warrant will be written up that is supported by a probable cause affidavit and that will be submitted to a judge for approval of the arrest of a suspect that has occurred here in this case.


Any charges that are associated with an arrest warrant are only preliminary charges. It's also very customary and is the case here that the arrest warrant and accompanying PC affidavit is sealed. That is to protect the investigation, to make sure that we have a strong investigation, that we have the ability to proceed forward with a strong prosecution.

At some point in the coming days, that seal will be lifted and the arrest warrants and PC affidavit will be available to the public and to the media. Once the case is transferred to us for formal charging, we will review the evidence and then determine final charges.

It is also very customary that final charges may be different than what is in the arrest affidavit. Typically, there will be more charges in a case like this when we do formal charging than what is actually listed in the arrest affidavit. So don't be surprised when you see a different list of charges when we finally file formal charges with the court.

Once the suspect is released from the hospital, we will have a first appearance scheduled with the court. That should happen in the next couple of days, I would guess, although that is still to be determined by his care providers at the hospital. That appearance will be by video, so he will be in the jail and be appearing by video. We will advise the suspect at that time of the arrest charges and his bond status. He is being held without bond, so he will not have the opportunity to be bonded out. Within a few days of that first appearance is when we will return to the courtroom and filed a formal charges with the court. That will again, be another bond advisement by the court, as well as potential punishments that the suspect will be facing as it relates to the charges that we file from the DA's office.

It's important to note that we are not going to try this case in the media, we will only share information that we can share. And that is not to cause frustration in the community or deprive the media of information that the public absolutely wants, it is to protect that prosecution effort. We have an interest in making sure that any conviction we achieve in a case like this can withstand the appeal process. So we'll be very careful about the information that we share, at least as it relates to the DA's office. But that obligation that we have ethically extends to the investigation team as well.

So oftentimes when you ask questions of them and they defer and say that they can't answer it or because it's -- they're trying to protect the investigation, that's because my obligation of being tight with the information extends to the investigation team as well. So don't hold that against them. You can hold that against me.

At this point, I would turn it over to U.S. Attorney Cole Finegan. Thank you.

COLE FINEGAN, U.S ATTORNEY FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO: Thank you. On behalf of the United States Attorney's Office and the Department of Justice, we want to express our deepest sympathies and condolences to the victims and to their families and to all those who are part of the awful incidents, roughly 36 hours ago at Club Q.

We are committed to working with District Attorney Michael Allen, Mayor John Suthers, Chief Vasquez, local law enforcement and our federal partners to bring justice to the people who suffered in this instance and to bring justice to those people who are all involved. This is an awful moment.

And we pledge on behalf of our office and the Department of Justice, that we will work as hard as we can to find justice in this instance. Thank you.

CASTRO: Hopefully I can cut off a couple of questions with these answers. So, a couple of things moving forward for everybody to be aware of. As you've heard multiple times, this is still an ongoing investigation. We expect to be at the scene for the forthcoming days.

It's not going to be over quickly. It is going to be done thoroughly and appropriately. We'll continue to partner with our federal partners throughout this process.


Currently, people who have vehicles in the parking lot will start receiving phone calls from our detectives to release those vehicles to the registered owners. If those vehicles belongs to victims, then we will use our victim advocacy unit and detectives to work with those families.

If somebody is the registered owner of a vehicle, they know that they left there and they are not contacted or they had loaned that vehicle to somebody else, you can call us at the Colorado Springs Police Department's non-emergency line, which is 719-444-7000, and a detective will touch base with you to make sure we get that car returned to that registered owner.

Additionally, at the conclusion of this conference, we will be releasing pictures of the victims that were provided by the family. These are the pictures that the family would like to be released so that everybody remembers them as they remember them. That will be done through our social media accounts, so you'll be able to get the high quality pictures there.

That is all of the information we have to share at this point in time. I'll open it up to questions and then we'll pick the most appropriate person. Just be patient, there's a lot of people here. And to make sure that everybody who is watching knows what the question is asked, I will go ahead and repeat it or if one of the other individuals comes up to answer it we will repeat it before we provide that answer.

So, we'll start this way, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE), were you aware that the suspect's previous interaction with police and why wasn't the Red Flag Law pursued before this happened?

CASTRO: Yes, sir. So the question was about prior interactions with police and our Red Flag Law. I will let Mr. Allen, our district attorney answer that.

ALLEN: Thank you for that question. This is going to be a very unsatisfying answer as it relates specifically to part of your question. The red flag question is something that I think none of us up here are in a position to answer. But as it relates to the first part of your question, I want to talk about this in a way that hopefully makes sense to everybody.

Colorado has very restrictive sealing laws. What that means is that if a case is filed in a courtroom in the state of Colorado and is dismissed for any reason, whether that is because the prosecution dismisses it or the court dismisses it, it is automatically sealed. That is a change in the law that occurred back in 2019. So only three years ago.

That same statute requires us to give very specific answers to questions about cases that may or may not be under a seal order 4nder the scenario that I just gave you. That statute requires us to say, in response to questions about it, that no such record exists. So when you ask questions about specific prior instances, that will be our specific answer. But I wanted to give you a reason why that's the answer that we're giving.

I acknowledged that it is very unsatisfying at this point. Hopefully, at some point in the near future, we can share more about that. But at this stage, that's the best we can give you. And that's going to be the same answer for everybody up here. It's really -- the design behind that is to protect persons that have been accused of crime and been charged, and then are -- the case is dismissed.

The idea behind it is that that person shouldn't have to carry that charge around with them for the rest of their lives if there's no way to convict them of that charge. That's the design behind it. I know that's an unsatisfying answer, but that's the status of the law as it exists right now. If it changes to that specific thing that you're asking about, I'll be passing that information out.

So, the mayor just brought up a good point and it relates to the Red Flag Law. The DA's office doesn't play a part in the Red Flag Law. That would be up to a law enforcement agency. And that's why I say nobody in this group can really answer that specific question. It has to be initiated by law enforcement or a member of the public, not by the DA's office.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As of October, El Paso sheriffs have never filed for extreme risk protection order since the law has been passed and Colorado Springs PD has failed two.