05/12/2022

‘Everybody in that building experienced combat that night.’ Army veteran Richard Fierro describes the moment he took down the Colorado nightclub gunman | CNN




CNN
 — 

Former Army Maj. Richard Fierro never thought he would need to use the combat skills he learned in the military while on a night out with his family.

But that’s just what happened Saturday night as Fierro, his wife and daughter, his daughter’s boyfriend and family friends were at Club Q in Colorado Springs celebrating a birthday and watching a drag show.

Shots rang out at the LGBTQ nightclub just before midnight.

“I went to the ground as soon as I heard the rounds,” Fierro told CNN’s John Berman Monday night.

The veteran who did three tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan said his training kicked in.

“I was in (fighting) mode, I was doing what I did down range. I trained for this,” he said.

After hitting the ground, Fierro saw a man with a gun and jumped into action. “I ran across the room … pulled him down,” Fierro said.

Fierro and Thomas James were identified by police as two clubgoers who helped take down the suspected gunman. Five people were killed in the attack and 17 were injured, officials say.

While hailed as a hero for helping stop additional casualties, Fierro told CNN it hurts him to think about the five people who will never get to go home as well as everyone in the building who was traumatized that night.

“This whole thing was a lot, my daughter and wife should’ve never experienced combat in Colorado Springs. And everybody in that building experienced combat that night, not to their own accord, but because they were forced to,” Fierro tearfully told CNN.

After the suspect was on the ground, another man, apparently James, helped Fierro subdue him and pushed a rifle out of the suspect’s reach.

That’s when Fierro noticed the suspect also had a pistol, which Fierro said he took and used to hit the gunman.

“I found a crease between his armor and his head and I just started whaling away with his gun,” Fierro said. “I told him while I was hitting him, ‘I’m going to f****** kill you man, because you tried to kill my friends.’ My family was in there, my little girl was in there.”

While Fierro was hitting the suspect with a gun, the other man was kicking him in the head.

One of the drag performers also jumped in, Fierro said. “She helped kick him with the high heels that she had on.”

As soon as the police arrived, Fierro said he began tending to his injured friends.

“I tried. I tried to help everybody in there,” Fierro said, becoming emotional.

“I don’t want to ever do this,” Fierro said of using his combat skills. “I was done doing this stuff, it was too much,” he said. “It lives in you. If you actually do this stuff, it’s in you … I’m not a GI Joe, I’m just a normal guy.”

Fierro’s daughter’s boyfriend, 22-year-old Raymond Green Vance, is among those killed in the shooting, he said.

“Raymond was a kind, selfless young adult with his entire life ahead of him. His closest friend describes him as gifted, one-of-a-kind, and willing to go out of his way to help anyone,” his family said in a statement.

The suspected gunman, identified as Anderson Lee Aldrich, remained hospitalized Monday. He is facing five counts of first-degree murder and five counts of a bias-motivated crime causing bodily injury, according to an online docket in El Paso County courts. The district attorney for El Paso County, Michael Allen, said formal charges have not been filed and the ones on the docket are preliminary and might change.

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