COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — This weekend marks one year since the horrific mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs that killed five people and injured dozens more.
Michael Anderson, the only bartender who survived that night, remembers it vividly.
“November 19 of last year, Saturday, I was bartending. You know, when you're at work, sometimes you're like, 'Oh, I'm ready to go home.' And you're looking at the clock, you're counting down. 'Oh, two hours left.' Well, that night, I wasn't doing that. That night, I was like, 'This is actually a really good vibe,'" Anderson recalled.
But everything changed in a matter of minutes — right around midnight.
"One moment, everything's fine, and everything's good. And I'm in the middle of doing my job and socializing. And then the next minute, everything turned into a hellscape. Everything became like a horror movie," Anderson said.
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Anderson was in the middle of pouring a drink for Ed Sanders, one of Club Q's longest patrons, when he heard gunshots.
"It just became like a series of decisions. Like, looking up, realizing there's a gun. What do I do now? And I need to do it quickly. I ducked down, and then it's like, 'OK, now what do I do?'" said Anderson. "Every decision I made could have been, well, it was the difference between me being alive right now and me being dead."
Anderson was one of three bartenders who went into work that evening, and worked alongside Derrick Rump and Daniel Aston. But he was the only one who made it out alive. Both Rump and Aston were killed in the shooting.
"What I think is scary — and I haven't talked about this — but Derrick followed me in the same path that I took to try and escape. So he did exactly what I did. In a situation like that, every decision you make, second by second by second is the difference between life and death. I think that's horrific because had I waited five or 10 seconds, it would have been me in that situation. I wouldn't be here talking to you today," said Anderson.
Since the tragedy, Anderson has been a vocal advocate for gun reform and LGBTQ+ equality. He testified to the U.S. House Oversight Committee on December 14th, 2022, and appeared on several major news networks and newspapers.
"The last year, what's helped me process what's happened is being involved, is going to D.C. and meeting with politicians and advocating for gun reform and gun safety legislation. And meeting with the vice president and the president to talk to them about, you know, we've got to do something in this country," he added.
In March, Anderson attended the GLADD Media Awards and presented the Advocate for Change Award to Christina Aguilera.
"I can't sit, you know, at home and hide from the world because I'm afraid. Because yes, I am afraid, but I know that if I just live in fear, and I never do anything about this, or I never talk about it, or I never advocate, nothing will ever change. And things may not change still, even if I do all those things, but it's worth a good-faith effort to put my energy towards something. And that's exactly what I've done this year. And it's just been quite a wild ride," said Anderson.
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Anderson wants something to be done before gun violence touches another person's life.
"We can still protect gun rights, while also ensuring that we have safer streets where people who don't need to have weapons, particularly high-powered weapons, can't get them. It's really frustrating because we don't have to live like this. As Americans, we can do better than this. And we should do better than this," he said.
Anderson is now part of Club Q's management team and is efforting the club's reopening at its new location under a new name. The Q is expected to reopen sometime this winter.