COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Dozens of candles burned Sunday night at a memorial outside the LGBTQ+ venue, Club Q.
"We left just five minutes before, and we didn't know anybody. We were just literally sitting there, people-watching," Justin Godwin said.
He and his friend Aeron Laney told Denver7 they had just moved from California and visited Club Q Saturday night to determine if it was the right fit for them.
"We could just tell that this was going to be a community that we were going to be a part of," Laney said.
They never imagined the venue they were going to call their new safe space — that they had left just minutes prior — would be the site of a mass shooting.
"How do you walk in and see the environment that we saw and want to shoot people?" Godwin asked.
At a prayer vigil earlier in the day at St. Paul's United Methodist Church, tears fell as certified lay minister Twinkle Gordon shared the anger and pain so many in the community feel.
"There is no rhyme, no reason, no explanation why the devastation and the evil came upon people who are also your children," Gordon said. "People who tried to escape, but they did not. They got killed, other people got killed, just trying to run away. God, we know better than to ask why, and it certainly is too soon for us to say we forgive."
"That prayer just hit so good. It was just ... she said all the things that I'm feeling. Like, I'm angry, I'm upset. I'm heartbroken," Kourtney Berg said.
She and her wife, Bird Berg, could not believe the news that the place in which they felt the safest over the years could face such tragedy.
"I've lived here 31 years. When they start releasing the people that passed, I know I'm gonna know 'em," Bird said, holding back tears.
It's unclear if Club Q will ever be anyone's safe space again. For now, its patrons are focused on remembering those lost — and hurt — by senseless violence.
"The community doesn't deserve this. Especially, the LGBTQ community doesn't deserve this either," David Walter said.
In Denver, a candlelight vigil is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 21, at 7 p.m. at ReelWorks Denver for those who want to pay their respects but can't make the drive south.