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American Tableau

Two Americas and their tragic, bloody confrontation at a gay club in Colorado Springs
COLORADO SPRING, CO - NOVEMBER 21: Richard Fierro, with his brother Ed, left, by his side, describes how he took the shooter down the night of the shooting at Club Q while outside of his home on November 21, 2022 i... COLORADO SPRING, CO - NOVEMBER 21: Richard Fierro, with his brother Ed, left, by his side, describes how he took the shooter down the night of the shooting at Club Q while outside of his home on November 21, 2022 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Fierro is credited with saving many lives when he took the shooter by the back and pulled him to the ground. He was able to get the shooters gun and hit him over the head with it. He told another person to kick the shooter until police arrived on scene. Fierro said his training in the Army helped him react to the shooter. Fierro, a former Army major, had three tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq. Fierro was detained by the police for an hour before they realized what he had done inside the Club Q. He is being hailed a hero for stopping the shooter from killing many more people inside the gay nightclub. An attacker opened fire in a gay nightclub late Saturday night killing five people and wounding at least 25, officials said. Colorado Springs police Chief Adrian Vasquez identified the suspect as 22-year old Anderson Lee Aldrich. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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November 22, 2022 10:51 a.m.

We build stories out of the messy, contradictory realities of our lives. Rich Fierro is the hero of the mass shooting at the Club Q, the gay club in Colorado Springs, Colorado. We need more heroes and fewer events that create them. Fierro is a retired Army major who appears to have had something approaching a flashback, a reflex response from the brutalizing violence he experienced in Iraq when Anderson Lee Aldrich opened fire in the night club.

These are the indelible memories, psychic damage that haunt so many veterans. In interviews, Fierro has said they haunt him too and were one of the reasons he left the military. In this moment, though, they were lifesaving. Fierro rushed, tackled, disarmed and violently beat Aldrich, alongside another patron and a trans dancer in the club who helped subdue him. Numerous accounts include the evocative detail that the dancer helped subdue Aldrich by stomping him with her high heel.

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