FEATURED POST

USA | Lethal Injections Are Crueler Than Most People Imagine. I’ve Seen the Evidence Firsthand.

Image
Alabama is pausing the use of the execution method after two botched attempts, but physicians need to refuse to ever participate in making them possible. Lethal injection is not a medical act, but it impersonates one. The method of judicial execution works by shuttling medicines, repurposed as poison, directly into a vein via an intravenous catheter. Intravenous use is a ubiquitous method for drug and fluid delivery that most anyone might recognize, either by direct experience when sick or by observation in others when others are sick. According to the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, punishment cannot be cruel, and when lethal injection causes death, the outward result can be extraordinarily mild and bloodless. I speak from experience. As a physician, I was invited by Georgia prisoner Marcus Wellons to watch his execution on June 17, 2014. Lethal injection is a highly curated event; even my medical trained eye could detect very little. Wellons died quietly and quickly. I’ve

USA | 5 killed, 17 wounded in Colorado Springs Gay club; suspect faces murder, hate crime charges

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — The man suspected of opening fire at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs was being held on murder and hate crime charges Monday, while hundreds of people gathered to honor the five people killed and 17 wounded in the attack on a venue that for decades was a sanctuary for the local LGBTQ community.

Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, faces five murder charges and five charges of committing a bias-motivated crime causing bodily injury in Saturday night’s attack at Club Q, online court records showed.

Authorities said the attack was halted by two club patrons including Richard Fierro, who told reporters Monday night that he took a handgun from Aldrich, hit him with it and pinned him down with help from another person.

Fierro, a 15-year U.S. Army veteran who owns a local brewery, said he was celebrating a birthday with family members when the suspect “came in shooting.” Fierro said during a lull in the shooting he ran at the suspect, who was wearing some type of armor plates, and pulled him down before severely beating him until police arrived.

“I tried to save people and it didn’t work for five of them,” he said. “These are all good people. ... I’m not a hero. I’m just some dude.”

Fierro’s daughter’s longtime boyfriend, Raymond Green Vance, 22, was killed, while his daughter hurt her knee as she ran for cover. Fierro injured his hands, knees and ankle while stopping the shooter.

The suspect remained hospitalized with unspecified injuries but is expected to make his first court appearance in the next couple of days, after doctors clear him to be released from the hospital.

The charges against Aldrich were preliminary, and prosecutors had not filed formal charges in court yet. The hate crime charges would require proving that the gunman was motivated by bias, such as against the victims’ actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

Local and federal authorities during a Monday news briefing declined to answer questions about why hate crime charges are being considered, citing the ongoing investigation. District Attorney Michael Allen noted that the murder charges would carry the harshest penalty — life in prison — whereas bias crimes are eligible for probation.

“But it is important to let the community know that we do not tolerate bias motivated crimes in this community, that we support communities that have been maligned, harassed and intimidated and abused,” Allen said. “And that’s one way that we can do that, showing that we will put the money where our mouth is, essentially, and make sure that we try it that way.”

Additional charges are possible as the investigation continues, he said.

About 200 people gathered Monday night in the cold at a city park for a community vigil for the shooting victims. People held candles, embraced and listened as speakers on a stage expressed both rage and sadness over the shootings.

Jeremiah Harris, who is 24 and gay, said he went to Club Q a couple times a month and recognized one of the victims as the bartender who always served him. He said hearing others speak at the vigil was galvanizing following the attack at what for more than 20 years had been considered an LGBTQ safe spot in the conservative-leaning city.

“Gay people have been here as long as people have been here,” Harris said. “To everybody else that’s opposed to that ... we’re not going anywhere. We’re just getting louder and you have to deal with it.”

The other victims were identified by authorities and family members as Ashley Paugh, 35, a mother who helped find homes for foster children; Daniel Aston, 28, who had worked at the club as a a bartender and entertainer; Kelly Loving, 40, whose sister described her as “caring and sweet”; and Derrick Rump, 38, another club bartender who was known for his quick wit and adopting his friends as his family.

Vance’s family said in a statement that the Colorado Springs native was adored by his family and had recently gotten a job at FedEx, where he hoped to save enough money to get his own apartment.

Thomas James was identified by authorities as the other patron who intervened to stop the shooter. Fierro said a third person also helped — a performer at the club who Fierro said kicked the suspect in the head as she ran by.

Court documents laying out Aldrich’s arrest have been sealed at the request of prosecutors. Information on whether Aldrich had a lawyer was not immediately available.

A law enforcement official said the suspect used an AR-15-style semi-automatic weapon. A handgun and additional ammunition magazines also were recovered. The official could not discuss details of the investigation publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

Thirteen victims remained hospitalized Monday, officials said. Five people had been treated and released.

Officials on Monday clarified that 18 people were hurt in the attack, not 25 as they said originally. Among them was one person whose injury was not a gunshot wound. Another victim had no visible injuries, they said.

Colorado Springs, a city of about 480,000, is 70 miles (110 kilometers) south of Denver. Mayor John Suthers said there was “reason to hope” all of the hospitalized victims would recover.

The assault quickly raisedquestions about why authorities did not seek to take Aldrich’s guns away from him in 2021, when he was arrested after his mother reported he threatened her with a homemade bomb and other weapons.

Though authorities at the time said no explosives were found, gun-control advocates have asked why police didn’t use Colorado’s “red flag” laws to seize the weapons his mother says he had. There’s no public record prosecutors ever moved forward with felony kidnapping and menacing charges against Aldrich.

It was the sixth mass killing this month, and it came in a year when the nation was shaken by the deaths of 21 in a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. It also rekindled memories of the 2016 massacre at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that killed 49 people.

President Joe Biden talked to Colorado Gov. Jared Polis by phone and will continue to press Congress for an assault weapons ban “because thoughts and prayers are just not enough,” White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday.

A makeshift memorial that sprang up in the hours after the attack continued to grow Monday, as a stream of mourners brought flowers and left messages in support of the LGBTQ community. The shooting site remained cordoned off.

“It’s a reminder that love and acceptance still have a long way to go,” Colorado Springs resident Mary Nikkel said at the site.

Since 2006, there have been 523 mass killings and 2,727 deaths as of Nov. 19, according to The Associated Press/USA Today database on mass killings in the U.S.

Site of Colorado gay bar shooting 'celebrated' LGBTQ people


Reese Congleton grew up in Colorado Springs feeling as if she had to keep her queer identity quiet, and because she hadn’t come out to many people, she was nervous to go to Club Q for the first time.

But on Monday she recalled how the rainbow lights bounced around the room and the lively crowd shared her excitement. Congleton, 19, said she went from feeling like she had been merely tolerated in public to “being celebrated. … It’s really special not to feel alone.”

In the mostly conservative city of Colorado Springs, Club Q has long been a go-to spot for members of the LGBTQ community — a safe space where many felt they could let down their guard and just be themselves. It’s a place where LGBTQ teenagers can’t wait to be old enough to enter. It’s one of the first spots new LGBTQ residents are sent to meet others in the community and feel a sense of belonging.

But that sense of safety was shattered this weekend when a gunman entered the club as people were drinking and dancing — killing five people and leaving 17 with gunshot wounds. As the community mourned the lives lost, many were also grieving because it happened at a place that's seen as a sanctuary for many longing to fit in.

“We weren’t out harming anyone. We were in our space, our community, our home, enjoying ourselves like everybody else does," said Joshua Thurman, who was on the dance floor when the shooting started. "How can we now do anything knowing something like this can happen?”

An 18-and-up gay and lesbian nightclub, Club Q features dancing, drag shows, karaoke and drag bingo, according to its website. Its Facebook page boasts “Nobody Parties like Club Q!," and posts flyers for a Halloween party, a shots party, as well as trivia. Some described it as a cozy, welcoming place that drew those who wanted to sit down for a meal and relax, as well as those who wanted to dance into the morning hours.

The club's doors remained closed after the shooting, as many people left flowers at a growing memorial nearby.

Stoney Roberts, the southern Colorado field organizer for One Colorado, an LGBTQ advocacy group, described it as a sacred space and said the shooting felt like a “desecration.”

Roberts, who identifies as a nonbinary trans person, graduated from high school in 2007 and couldn’t wait to be old enough to go to Club Q, which, Roberts said, back then was one of the only safe spaces in Colorado Springs for LGBTQ people.

“I came of age there,” said Roberts, who performed in Club Q’s drag shows from 2009 through 2011. “If it were not for Club Q, if it were not for the experiences I had there, I would not be the person I am.”

A sense of home for members of the LGBTQ community is what Matthew Haynes, one of the club’s co-founders, hoped to create when he started the club two decades ago.

“There have been so many happy stories from Club Q,” Haynes told The Colorado Sun. “People meeting and relationships being born. So many celebrations there. We’re a family of people more than a place to have a drink and dance and leave.”

Colorado’s laws are now among the country’s friendliest to LGBTQ people, though it wasn’t always that way, and Colorado Springs was particularly unwelcoming.

The city of 480,000 located 70 miles (110 kilometers) south of Denver has long held a prominent place for the American evangelical Christian movement. Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian ministry that lobbied for years against LGBTQ rights, has its headquarters there.

After the attack, Focus on the Family president Jim Daly said in a statement that the shooting “exposes the evil and wickedness inside the human heart. We must condemn in the strongest terms possible the taking of innocent life.”

The city's extensive military presence also contributes to its conservative slant. It's home to the United States Air Force Academy, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), Peterson Space Force Base and a large Army base, Fort Carson. Many military veterans also live there.

After the shooting, Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said in a statement that Club Q is a safe haven for LGBTQ people, and “every citizen has the right to be safe and secure in our city; to go about our beautiful city without fear of being harmed or treated poorly."

Congleton and Ashlyn May, 18, said growing up in Colorado Springs they often felt they had to keep their true selves hidden. May recalled being looked at with disgust when, in a middle school class, she proposed that Queen’s song “I Want to Break Free” was about exploring coming out as gay.

Even now, “it’s scary to hold hands in public,” Congleton said.

But Club Q gave them a place to be themselves. May regularly attends bingo on Wednesday evenings, where a drag queen’s compliment about an outfit tore away their insecurities. “Yes, I am hot!” said May, who was excited to bring their queer younger sister to Club Q for bingo this week to show her “it’s okay to be queer, and it’s okay to love who you love."

Justin Godwin, 24, and his friend visited Club Q for the first time Saturday and left in an Uber just minutes before the shooting. He said he’s been thinking of all the people who were dancing, sitting at the bar and enjoying the night.

“They’re all there for different reasons, whether they’re regulars, their first time, they’re celebrating something. It’s just supposed to be a fun environment where we feel safe, where people aren’t judging you, giving you looks or anything,” Godwin said. “You’re just being yourself, like no matter how you look, like everyone just feels welcome.”

“It’s just crazy to think someone had the intentions to go in there and just do any harm to anybody,” he said. “It’s just sad for people who find a home somewhere and it gets ruined.”

Korrie Bovee, who identifies as queer, said Club Q has been the cornerstone of a community of like-minded people who have each others’ backs, in a city where verbal harassment is not uncommon and freedom to be oneself is not always found in schools or churches.

“My kids live here,” the 33-year-old said, wiping a tear from her eye. “It’s just hard to know I’m raising my kids in this context.”

Roberts said that as a Black queer person, most places in Colorado Springs seem welcoming, but there is always that “underlying nuance of realizing where you are.”

At Club Q: “You can take a deep breath and you can be your authentic self.”

Source: The Associated Press, Staff, November 21, 2022





🚩 | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.




Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!



"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

USA | Lethal Injections Are Crueler Than Most People Imagine. I’ve Seen the Evidence Firsthand.

Missouri executes Kevin Johnson

U.S. | Alabama won't try lethal injection again on "execution survivor" Alan Eugene Miller, but it may try new method

North Korea executes teens for distributing foreign films

Iran executed 4 people it says spied for Israel

Alabama inmate describes failed execution attempt: Unknown injections, repeated attempts to start IV

Idaho | Gerald Pizzuto December execution canceled as state can’t find lethal injection drugs

China | Death penalty upheld for woman convicted of killing 7

Utah Court Grants New Trial to Death-Row Prisoner Convicted in 1985 by False Testimony Coerced by Police

Iran pushes ahead with death penalties to deter protests