Club Q shooting survivor shares message of resilience: ‘I won’t be taken out by some sick person’

Ed Sanders

A survivor of the horrific mass shooting at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs has said he “half-expected” a hate attack on Club Q – but remains resilient.

Five people were killed and at least 25 injured after a shooter opened fire at Club Q on 19 November.

The victims have been named as Daniel Aston, Derrick Rump, Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh and Raymond Green Vance.

Ed Sanders, 63, was shot in the back and thigh and lost friends in the shooting.

He explained he had been waiting at the bar buying drinks when he was hit in the back — the bullet miraculously missed vital organs but broke a rib. When Sanders turned to look at the shooter, he was hit again, this time in the thigh.

In a statement released by UCHealth Memorial Hospital Centre, he said he’s “doing OK”.

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“I fell. And everybody fell,” he said. “It was very traumatic. I shielded another woman with my coat… there was a lot of chaos.”

Sanders says he still doesn’t know if the woman he shielded survived the Club Q shooting.

“I was trying not to lean on her… I put my coat over her. She was shivering and not breathing very well. And there was another woman… who’s an entertainer there. She was helping the other woman too, trying to encourage her to breathe.

“Several people asked about me, and I said that I was hit, and it didn’t seem that bad. The shot to my back didn’t feel like what it left, which is a big, scooped-out wound.”

Ed Sanders was shot twice during the Club Q massacre in Colorado
Ed Sanders was shot twice during the Club Q shootings in Colorado. (Sonya Doctorian for UCHealth)

Sanders says in the statement he is a “survivor” who has beaten HIV and coped with dementia.

“I want to be resilient. I’m a survivor. I’m not going to be taken out by some sick person,” he said.

“I’m smiling now because I am happy to be alive. I dodged a major event in my life and came through it, and that’s part of who I am as a survivor.”

And Sanders admitted that after the massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida in 2016 — the most deadly attack on the LGBTQ+ community in US history — he was “half-expecting” something to happen at Club Q.

He said: “It has happened so many times in other places. We get some rhetoric out here from hate groups… different groups that come out against us.

“I half-way expected something to happen. I always wondered what I would do. But I did what I did. It was a lot of regular customers, and it was family helping family basically. We took care of each other.”

Paying tribute to the victims of the Club Q shooting, Colorado Springs city hall unveiled a 25-foot Pride flag on Wednesday (23 November).

The flag has been loaned to the city hall by the Sacred Cloth Project and has been flown at several historic LGBTQ+ events worldwide, including in Orlando after the Pulse nightclub shooting and the Supreme Court after the 2015 victory for marriage equality.

Mark Ebenhoch, the director of the Sacred Cloth Project, said: “We are honoured to share this symbol of hope, love and unity with the people of Colorado Springs in their time of sorrow.”

The incident reportedly stopped after a brave patron grabbed the killer’s gun and hit them with it, before joining forces with another person to pin down the suspect until police arrived.

The suspect in the shooting has since been named by police as 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich.

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