Nightmare at the Nightclub

When the shooting started, a combat veteran’s lifesaving instincts kicked in

When the shooting started, a combat veteran’s lifesaving instincts kicked in

Richard M. Fierro was at a table at Club Q with his wife, daughter and friends on a Saturday night last November when the sudden flash of gunfire ripped across the nightclub. His instincts, forged during four combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, instantly kicked in. Fight back, he told himself. Protect your people. 

Fierro, 45, who spent 15 years as a U.S. Army officer and left as a major in 2013, charged through the chaos at the club and tackled the gunman, beating him with the shooter’s own gun.

“I don’t know exactly what I did. I just went into combat mode,” Fierro said in the driveway of his Colorado Springs, Colorado, home a few days after the shooting, an American flag hanging limp in the freezing air. “I just knew I had to stop this guy.”

The gunman, Anderson Lee Aldrich, then 22, was arrested on charges of killing five people and wounding 18 more in a rampage that lasted only a few minutes. The death toll could have been much higher, officials said, if patrons of the bar had not stopped the gunman.

“He saved a lot of lives,” John Suthers, then the mayor of Colorado Springs, said of Fierro. Suthers said he had spoken to Fierro and was struck by his humility. “I have never encountered a person who engaged in such heroic actions and was so humble about it.”

It was supposed to be a chill family night out. The combat veteran and his wife, Jess Fierro, joined their daughter, Kassandra, her longtime boyfriend, Raymond Green Vance, and two family friends to watch one of his daughter’s friends perform a drag act.

It was Fierro’s first time at a drag show, and he was enjoying it. After all those years in the Army, he now relished his role as a civilian and a father, watching one of his daughter’s old high school friends perform.

“These kids want to live that way, want to have a good time, have at it,” he said ...

Read more!