Colorado Springs shooting survivors felt like ‘fish trapped in a barrel’

People leave flowers at the growing memorial at the scene of the shooting inside Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado

Survivors of the Colorado Springs shooting at an LGBTQ+ nightclub sustained life-changing injuries, and have been left processing horrific trauma.

Five people were killed in the shooting at Club Q on Saturday (November 19), the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance. At least 25 were left injured.

Daniel Aston, Derrick Rump, and Kelly Loving were named as victims shortly after the shooting, with Ashley Paugh and Raymond Green Vance named in the following days.

The exact number of those injured in the shooting, whether from gunshots or while trying to flee the venue, is uncertain as some victims made their own way to hospitals, while others were taken by ambulance.

Colorado Springs shooting survivor Jerecho Loveall was shot in the leg, but was so full of fear that he didn’t realise until he arrived at the hospital.

He told CBS: “I was running around with adrenaline going through me, trying to find the people I was there with, trying to check on the people that I knew, the people that I hoped and prayed were safe.

“And then I went outside to try and help find everybody. I found my people and at that point is when we found out I had a wound on my leg that was bleeding. The paramedics wrapped my leg and I took myself to the hospital, and that’s when I found out I had a gunshot wound. Through and through.”

Now, he said, he is struggling to process the horror of that night.

“I know there’s pain there,” he said. “And I know there should be pain there. But I… I feel the pain, I hurt, but I don’t know if it’s more mental or physical pain that I’m feeling at this moment.”

Jessy Smith Cruz embraces Jadzia Dax McClendon the morning after a mass shooting at Club Q, an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on November 20, 2022. – At least five people were killed and 18 wounded in a mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in the US city of Colorado Springs, police said on November 20, 2022. (Photo by Jason Connolly / AFP) (Photo by JASON CONNOLLY/AFP via Getty Images)

The friends and families of those injured in the shooting have been working to raise funds for medical expenses.

Albert Reliford, from Aspen, Colorado, started a crowdfunding page for his best friend, Manuel Garcia, who was “one of many injured in senseless acts at Club Q”.

Garcia suffered life-changing injuries, with a bullet that hit him in the back, collapsing his lung. He also broke his jawbone.

“He needs physical therapy as [part of] a long process ahead of him for full recovery,” Reliford said.

Crys Lucero has raised more than $23,000 for her best friend of 15 years, Tara, a DJ who goes by the stage name DJ T-Beatz.

The DJ, who often performed at Club Q, required surgery after suffering gunshot wounds.

Her best friend added: “Tara is loved by so many, and we can only imagine the physical and emotional hurdles she will face during the recovery process.”

‘They considered Club Q a safe space’

Siblings Charlene and James Slaugh were also shot at Club Q.

Charlene is currently “recovering from the first of several surgeries and has a long recovery ahead” after being shot in the abdomen. Doctors identified “13 holes so far from one or more bullets”. She also suffered a collapsed lung.

James was shot in the shoulder and his partner was shot in the leg.

Their brother Mark wrote on the crowdfunding page to support their medical expenses: “James and his partner met at Club Q and always considered it a safe space.

“Charlene loves hiking in the mountains with her dog. Her brother James wanted to cheer her up after a recent breakup and on the one-year anniversary of their mother’s death from Covid.

“They went out for a fun night of dancing at Club Q. They were preparing to leave when shots were fired.”

But it isn’t just those who were physically injured who will suffer long-lasting trauma from the shooting.

Michael Anderson, a bartender at Club Q, was trapped inside the nightclub while the shooting was ongoing.

He told MSNBC that he was with a co-worker and another woman: “We were all just huddled together, praying that it would end.”

Recalling the moment he saw the barrel of the gun, he said: “I felt like a fish trapped in a barrel.

“I didn’t know where to go, I didn’t have my phone, I didn’t have anything. I was just so scared I wouldn’t be able to talk to my mom.”

The shooter has been named as 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich. The police investigation continues.