COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis visited Club Q in Colorado Springs on Tuesday afternoon to honor the five people killed in the Nov. 19 mass shooting and show his support for the survivors.
“Club Q will be back, and the community will be back," he said in front of the club. "People will feel safe and will learn from this. The perpetrator, of course, will be held fully accountable under the laws of Colorado for the heinous acts committed.”
The shooting, which began just before midnight, left five people dead and 19 others injured. Of those 19, 17 were injured due to a gunshot wound, five were hurt from something other than a gunshot wound, and 12 people had no visible injuries, according to the Colorado Springs Police Department.
Two people — Thomas James, a sailor in the US Navy, and Richard Fierro, a former Army major and an Iraqi war veteran — have been called heroes for stopping the suspect during the shooting.
READ MORE: Here’s how Colorado can help the victims of the Club Q mass shooting in Colorado Springs
The 22-year-old suspect was arrested and has a next court date on Dec. 6. The suspect was arrested for investigation of 10 counts in connection with the shooting: five counts of first-degree murder after deliberation and five counts of bias-motivated crime. The suspect has not been formally charged.
Polis said as of now, it doesn't appear that any more of the victims' injuries are life-threatening. But there's a long road ahead for many people.
“Going out will likely never be the same," he said.
READ MORE: Club Q survivor says safe space was shattered 'but we will be strong again'
As the survivors, victims' families, and others who frequented Club Q focus on healing, the community also needs to focus on loving each other, Polis said.
“No matter who you are, where you live, who you love, Colorado is a place for you," he said, adding, “it will be a healing process to be able to show resilience from this horrific tragedy.”
During a brief Q&A with media, Polis answered multiple questions about Colorado's extreme risk protection order, or red flag law, which was passed in 2019 after long, often contentious debates at the Colorado State Capitol. The law allows a judge to determine whether a person poses enough of a threat to themselves or others to have their firearms temporarily removed from their possession for as little as 14 days or for six-month increments at a time. A parent or law enforcement agency can bring the request to a judge.
“We are going to work with members of the legislature and law enforcement in improving the red flag law and to make sure it’s able to be used in instances where acts like this, as well as suicides, can be reduced by temporary removing access to weapons when somebody is in a mental health crisis," he said.
He said discussions are underway of potentially expanding who can seek a red flag order. That could possibly include district attorneys and prosecutors in the future, he said.
READ MORE: 'We are devastated': Officials react to deadly mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs
An analysis by the Associated Press found that Colorado has one of the lowest application rates of the law, despite widespread gun ownership and a string of high-profile mass shootings. It found that courts issued 151 gun surrender orders from when the law took effect through the end of 2021.
When asked about the recent rise in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, Polis said there's no excuse for attacks on individuals based on who they are or who they love.
“That can not only be incendiary or inspire acts against the LGBTQ community but it also can make life harder for those who are dealing with gender identity or sexual orientation issues and need to see positive role models and get the support they need to be themselves," he said.
Nic Grzecka, co-owner of Club Q, told the Associated Press that he thought the shooting was a reflection of anti-LGBTQ sentiment that has evolved from prejudice to incitement.
“It’s different to walk down the street holding my boyfriend's hand and getting spit at (as opposed to) a politician relating a drag queen to a groomer of their children," Grzecka told the AP. “I would rather be spit on in the street than the hate get as bad as where we are today."
READ MORE: LGBTQ+ advocates say hateful rhetoric has ramped up over the past year
At Club Q Tuesday, Polis was also asked about the suspect's criminal history, which he said will likely come to light in this case, though that will be in the hands of the judge.
“There’s no excuse for what happened and what this person did," Polis said. "And also, it should be a fairly open-and-shut case. Multiple witnesses. Video. People saw it happen. I am extremely confident that there will be a conviction here and the perpetrator will never, during their life, emerge from the jail cell."
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Club Q was known as a safe space for LGBTQ individuals before mass shooting