the bartender of the Q club recounts the horror, “there were very brave people”

Cowering in the courtyard of the nightclub, bartender Michael Anderson was sure he too would die listening the shots shot inside that killed his friends and colleagues.

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“I just felt lonely, really lonely and terrifiedhe told AFP. I didn’t have my phone with me. I was afraid that I wouldn’t even be able to say goodbye to my mother. »

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Just moments before, he was serving drinks at Club Q, a long-established LGBT club in Colorado Springs, at the gates of the Rockies in the United States.

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“It was absolutely terrifying”

A transvestite show had just taken place to mark Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is celebrated internationally on November 20. The music pulsed. He started hearing popping pops.

“I looked up and saw the shadow of a tall person holding a gun. I saw the gunhe recalls. Burst after burst. It was absolutely terrifying. »

“I dived behind the bar. Glass was flying all around me like there were bullets smashing the bottles and whatever was there. »“I’m ashamed, but I was homophobic”: “coming in” means appropriating one’s homosexuality

Fearing being targeted, Anderson crawled into the yard where he and a colleague took refuge between a wall and a cubicle, looking for some form of protection.

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The shooter subdued and arrested by the police

Inside, a man who will be arrested by the police and identified as Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, fired at the revelers indiscriminately, killing 5 people and injuring 25 others, some seriously. And it wasn’t over.

“I saw a gun coming out of the gate onto the yard, the barrel of a gun sticking outrecalls Anderson. This is where I was most scared. ‘Cause I knew what was gonna happen. He was going to find us. »

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What happened then leaves Anderson eternally grateful to people he considers heroes: Two individuals, police say, rushed towards the shooter and mastered it. Looking up, Anderson saw him pinned to the ground.

A close-knit LGBT community

“There were very brave people who beat and hit him, preventing him from doing more damage”he said.

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“I don’t know who did this. But I would really like to know because I’m very grateful. They saved my life last night. »

Such violence occurs regularly in the United States but for Anderson and others in the LGBT community in Colorado Springs, a city of about half a million people, the threat seemed remote.

“The community here has very close tieshe observes. Everyone knows each other. We are like a family. When I started working at Club Q […] my manager told me: “You are part of our family. Now we are here for you.” »

Anti-gay rhetoric

“We always thought it could never happen here, never in Colorado Springs, never at Club Qhe continues. But maybe we were telling ourselves that so we could go out and feel safe. »

Anderson hopes the shooter will spend the rest of his life in jail. And the country, he thinks, must change its face. Less than two weeks ago, during the midterm elections, several candidates seeking votes amplified their anti-gay and anti-trans rhetoric. Politicians must review their strategy, he judges.

“People who spit this stuff out think it’s harmless, it’s just part of their culture war, but their culture war has real consequences and I’ve seen it for myself”he concludes.

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