Club Q Hero: 'I Just Went Into Combat Mode'

Boyfriend of Army veteran Richard Fierro's daughter was killed in the shooting
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 22, 2022 12:01 AM CST
Updated Nov 22, 2022 6:15 AM CST
Army Veteran Describes How He Took Down Club Q Suspect
Richard Fierro talks during a news conference outside his home about his efforts to subdue the gunman in Saturday's fatal shooting at Club Q, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.   (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

The man who subdued the alleged Club Q shooter Saturday night, beating him with his own gun, is telling his story. Richard M. Fierro had gone to the gay nightclub with his wife, his daughter, her longtime boyfriend, and two family friends to watch his 22-year-old daughter's best friend from high school perform in a drag show. Fierro, a 45-year-old Army veteran who had four combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan and was twice awarded the Bronze Star, says he found himself back in a war zone when shots from a military-style rifle rang out. "I don’t know exactly what I did, I just went into combat mode," Fierro tells the New York Times. He pulled one of his friends down to the floor with him, then got up, ran, grabbed the gunman and took him to the floor, Fierro says. The rifle fell from the man's hand, but the shooter grabbed a pistol—which Fierro took from him.

Another patron stopped near them to help. "I said ‘Kick him! Move the AR!’ Then I just started hitting him," Fierro says, per the Washington Post. "But he was in armor plates, so I started hitting him wherever there was skin." As he hit the shooter with his own pistol, he later called in a drag queen to kick him with their high heels, and by the time police arrived, the alleged gunman was no longer fighting back. (He was still hospitalized as of Monday.) Fierro then started helping with the casualties, putting tourniquets on the husband and wife who'd come with him and his family to the show, both of whom were shot and remain hospitalized. Police, seeing Fierro covered in blood and holding a pistol, initially detained him, uncertain whether he'd had a role in the shooting. When they let him go, he found his wife and daughter, who sustained minor injuries.

They found their family friends at the hospital, but couldn't find their daughter's boyfriend. His mother called them the next day: Raymond Green Vance, 22, was among the five people killed in the shooting. “My little girl, she screamed and I was crying with her,” Fierro says. “I told them, ‘Look, I’ve gone through this before, and down range, when this happens, you just get out on the next patrol. You need to get it out of your mind.’ That is how you cured it. You cured it by doing more. Eventually you get home safe. But here I worry there is no next patrol. It is harder to cure. You are already home.” The others killed were Daniel Aston, 28, a bartender and performer at Club Q; Derrick Rump, 38, also a beloved bartender at the club who'd just started trying drag; Kelly Loving, 40, who had just moved to Colorado; and Ashley Paugh, 35, who leaves behind a husband and 11-year-old daughter. (More Club Q shooting stories.)

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