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.