Homeland Security warns of terror threat to LGBTQ+ people after Club Q shooting

Alejandro Mayorkas wears a black suit with burgendy tie, while speaking at the Senate building in a Homeland Security meeting.

The Department of Homeland Security has warned the US of a “heightened threat environment” for LGBTQ+ people and minorities.

During a terrorism advisory bulletin on Wednesday (30 November), Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said US infrastructure could be the target of lone actors or small terrorist groups.

“Our homeland continues to face a heightened threat environment,” he said.

“As we have seen, tragically, in recent acts of targeted violence.”

Mayorkas is seemingly referencing the Colorado Springs Club Q shooting that cost the lives of five LGBTQ+ people and injured several more.

While the shooting has not been stated as a hate crime, shooter Anderson Lee Aldrich – whose lawyers have said uses they/them pronouns – faces multiple hate crime charges.

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Additionally, the DHS added that, since the shooting, it had “observed actors on forums known to post racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist content praising the alleged attacker.

“Similarly, some domestic violent extremists in the United States praised an October 2022 shooting at an LGBTQ+ bar in Slovakia and encouraged additional violence.”

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People leave flowers at the growing memorial at the scene of the shooting inside Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado
People leave flowers at the growing memorial at the scene of the shooting inside Club Q, an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (Credit: Getty Images)

Mayorkas said that the incidents are most likely “driven by violent extremists seeking to further a political or social goal or act on a grievance.”

He also warned that these attacks are to be expected within the “coming months”.

Schools, public gatherings, faith-based institutions, and government facilities are just a few of the possible targets by these groups or individuals, according to Mayorkas.

In a National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin posted on its website, the DHS wrote that “threat actors” could exploit upcoming events, including holiday gatherings and certifications related to the midterm elections.

Members of the community stand next to an array of flowers to pay their respects for those who died during the Club Q shooting.
While the Club Q shooting has not been explicitly stated as a hate crime, the shooter is on trial for several hate crime charges. (Credit: Getty Images)

It also warned that the “marking of two years since the breach of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021″ could also pose a date of concern.

Officials have assured that they are working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to share “timely and actionable information” with relevant recipients.

“We conduct recurring threat briefings with private sector and state, local, tribal, territorial, and campus partners,” the statement continued. “Including to inform security planning efforts.

“DHS remains focused on recognising disinformation that threatens the security of the American people, including disinformation by foreign states.”

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An image of Chase Staub at Fulton County Jail.
Chase Staub was arrested at his home on terrorist threats. (Fulton County Jail)

Politically-motivated criminal activity against minorities has continued across the US since the Club Q shooting.

An arrest was made in Atlanta, Georgia after an individual made several threats against LGBTQ+ bars over social media and in person.

Chase Staub was arrested in his home on 24 November after threatening employees of the bar Heretic over social media.

Additionally, Staub was seen in another LGBTQ+ bar making several remarks against employees before being asked the leave.

A week prior, on 19 November, a man was seen throwing a brick at a New York LGBTQ+ bar for the fourth time in a month.

VERS owner David DeParolesa said the attack, in which a brick hit the window while people were inside, “feels like yet another manifestation of hate”.

Sean Kuilan was eventually arrested by New York police and charged with three counts of criminal mischief, reckless endangerment, and criminal possession of a weapon.

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