Richard Fierro, a decorated Army veteran who was at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Saturday night when a gunman opened fire, recalled how he worked with another client and an artist from drag to prevent the shooter from killing more people.
Fierro was at Club Q with his wife, daughter and friends watching a drag show when a gunman wearing body armor and carrying an AR-15 style rifle killed five and injured 19 others.
During a press conference from his home, Fierro and his wife, Jessica Fierro, described how he charged across the room, pulled the shooter to the ground from behind by his body armor and beat him with his own weapon.
“I just went into combat mode,” Fierro said, according to The New York Times. “I just know I have to kill this guy before he kills us.”
Fierro, a veteran of four combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and a former platoon leader, said he started shouting orders at a young man who stopped nearby to help, The Washington Post reported. . Fierro had grabbed the shooter’s pistol and was hitting it with it while ordering the young man to move the rifle.
“I said, ‘Hit it! Move the AR!’ Then I just started hitting him. But he was wearing armor plates, so I started hitting him wherever there was skin,” Fierro said, according to the Post.
When the man helping him got tired, Fierro said he beckoned a drag queen in high heels to help him, shouting, “Hit him!”
“She kicked him because the other guy was tired,” Fierro said.
“I have never met a person who had engaged in such heroic actions who was so humbled about it,” Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said of Fierro at a press conference. Monday. “He just said to me, ‘I was trying to protect my family.'”
Fierro and his wife own a local brewery called Atrevida Beer Co. In a post on the brewery’s Facebook page on Monday, Jessica Fierro said her husband injured his hands, knee and ankle while apprehending the shooter .
Two of their best friends were shot, she said, and their daughter, Kassandra, broke her knee trying to flee. Kassandra’s longtime boyfriend, Raymond Green Vance, was killed in the attack.
“We are devastated and torn. We love our [LGBTQ+] community and stay by their side. This cowardly and despicable act of hate has no place in our lives or business,” she wrote. “Damn hate. It left us and our community scarred but not broken. Lots of love to everyone.
A 22-year-old man was arrested in the shooting. He faces murder and hate crime charges.
Fierro said he was first handcuffed and put in the back of a police cruiser for what seemed like more than an hour after police arrived and saw him covered in blood and holding the shooter’s handgun. He said he was screaming and begging to be released so he could watch over his family. When he was finally released, he went to the hospital with his wife and daughter.