'I woke up this morning and couldn't breathe': Northern Colorado communities mourn lives lost in the mass shooting at Club Q
Less than 24 hours after a gunman killed five and injured 25 at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs on Saturday night, dozens gathered in Old Town Fort Collins to observe Transgender Day of Remembrance and mourn those who died in the mass shooting.
“I mentor freshmen at CSU and high schoolers here in Fort Collins,” Charlie Williamson, a student and staff member at the CSU Pride Resource Center, said. “I tell them it gets better and that there is safety in the world. But today I had to contemplate again if I was lying to them. I woke up this morning and couldn't breathe.”
Speakers called for support from allies and action from political leaders. LGBTQ people, many of them transgender, characterized the shooting as a sobering reminder of the dangers faced by their community. One questioned whether R Bar, an LGBTQ bar in Fort Collins, would be the next to face an attack.
“I'm here because I'm scared,” Williamson said. “I'm here because I'm angry. What I want is to be with my community. But I can't help but wonder if being in a group just like this would just make it easier for them.”
The Fort Collins vigil was, in part, an observance of Transgender Day of Remembrance, to highlight violence against transgender people.
“How disgusting that we aren't even allowed a moment to honor and remember all of those who have died from trans violence before we have to add more loved ones to this ever-growing list,” Reggie Fava, the co-president of CSU’s Drag Club ‘The House of Ovis’ said. “I'm heartbroken and I'm angry. The drag community is already so small and it's devastating that this happened to our family and our friends in Colorado.”
Authorities credited patrons of Club Q with quickly subduing the shooter late Saturday night; police arrived a few minutes later. On its Facebook page, Club Q acknowledged the “quick reactions of heroic customers,” and referred to the incident as a “hate attack.”
Colorado has experienced many mass shootings including the 1999 incident at Columbine High School, the 2012 Aurora Theater shooting and last year's shooting at the Boulder King Soopers.
Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies are involved in the investigation into the incident at Club Q. Charges against the suspect will likely include first-degree murder, according to the district attorney.
Gov. Jared Polis ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff on all public buildings statewide this week; the Pride flag will be flown at the state capitol.