5 dead, 18 injured in shooting at Colorado nightclub

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — A gunman opened fire at a gay nightclub late Saturday, killing five people and injuring 18 in the latest mass shooting that has hit the country in a year that anti-gay rhetoric has escalated among extremists .

Lt. Pamela Castro of the Colorado Springs Police Department said police received a report of a shooting at Club Q at 11:57 p.m

Castro said there was one suspect who was injured and being treated. She said it was not immediately clear if the attacker was shot dead by officers. She said the FBI was there and supporting the case.

The police department tweeted that they were planning an 8am press conference at their operations center.

Club Q is a gay and lesbian nightclub that offers a “Drag Diva Drag Show” on Saturdays, according to its website.

In addition to the drag show posted on the website, Club Q’s Facebook page said the evening’s planned entertainment would include a “punk and alternative show” before a birthday dance party with an “all-ages brunch.” ‘ which was due to begin at noon on Sunday.

“Club Q is devastated by the senseless attack on our community,” the club posted on Facebook. It said his prayers are with victims and families, and “we thank the quick responses from heroic customers who overwhelmed the shooter and ended this hate attack.”

Colorado Springs is a city of about 480,000 located about 70 miles south of Denver and home to the US Air Force Academy. The city has long been an epicenter of American evangelicalism. Focus on the Family, a prominent evangelical Christian ministry, is based in Colorado Springs.

In November 2015, three people were killed and eight injured at a Planned Parenthood clinic in the city when authorities said a man opened fire because he wanted to wage “war” on the clinic for performing abortions.

The motive behind Saturday’s shooting wasn’t immediately known, but it brought back memories of the 2016 massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., which killed 49 people. And it happened in a state that has seen several notorious mass murders, including at Columbine High School, a movie theater in suburban Denver in 2012, and a convenience store in Boulder last year.

In June, 31 members of the neo-Nazi group Patriot Front were arrested in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and charged with conspiring to riot at a Pride event. Experts warned that extremist groups could take anti-gay rhetoric as a call to action.

Last month, a fundamentalist Idaho pastor told his small Boise congregation that gay, lesbian and transgender people should be executed by the government, echoing similar sermons by a Texas fundamentalist pastor.

According to The Associated Press/USA Today database of mass killings in the US, since 2006 there have been 523 mass killings with 2,727 deaths on November 19