The attacker opened fire on Richard M. Fierro, a 15-year military veteran, and his family inside the Colorado Springs nightclub. “I just felt I had to take him down,” he explained.
On Saturday, Richard M. Fierro was enjoying a drag act at Bar Q with his wife and friends when a burst of gunshots swept through the room.
Instincts developed during four combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan surfaced immediately. He pushed himself to defend and fight for his people.
Mr Fierro, 45, served as an Army officer for 15 years before retiring as a major in 2013.
In an interview on Monday at his house, he detailed racing through the club commotion and beating him with the attacker’s gun.
He stood on his driveway, an American flag flapping in the cold breeze. “All I know is that I need to kill him before he kills us,”.
Police have arrested Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, on suspicion of killing five people.
Mayor John Suthers complimented Mr Fierro, saying that “he saved a lot of lives.” After speaking with Mr Fierro, the mayor expressed his appreciation for his humility. “I’ve never encountered somebody who accomplished so much while being humble.”
The battle veteran and his wife, Jess, attended a drag show featuring one of their daughter’s friends, Kassandra, and her longtime lover, Raymond Green Vance.
He’d been in the Army, and now that he was a civilian and a father, he was looking forward to seeing one of his daughters.
“These youngsters want to live that life; they want to have fun,” he remarked as he detailed the night. I’m pleased because they can do whatever they want, precisely what I campaigned for.
Mr Fierro was working on improving his social skills. In Iraq and Afghanistan, he’d been fired at, roadside explosives had damaged his platoon’s trucks, and he’d lost buddies. He received the Bronze Star twice.
The wars had an impact on both the past and the present. There are some things he will never forget.
Crowds bothered him for a long time after he got home. A part of him was always ready to attack, like a persistent itch.
He was way too suspicious and often irritated. His daughter and wife were the most affected. He was hard at work on it.
Medicine and psychological care were provided. He removed all firearms from the residence. He developed a large, white beard and long hair to distance himself from his days as a soldier.
He was friendly with his daughter and her long-term boyfriend, and he and his wife managed Atrevida Beer Co., a thriving local brewery. He knew that the battle would always be with him.
But that night at Club Q, he wasn’t even thinking about war. The ladies were having a good time. He was laughing with his friends. Then the gunshots began.
Near the front entrance, there were fast flashes and the sound of small-arms fire. Mr Fierro was well aware of the situation. He tripped over his pal and fell to the ground without looking back.
Screams were heard. Mr Fierro observed a man carrying a gun that looked similar to the one he had used in Iraq and weighed more.
The man was wearing body armour. The assailant was moving through the tavern toward a door that led to a terrace where several people had fled.
A platoon commander’s long-suppressed desires reappeared. He dashed across the room, jumped on top of the shooter, and dragged him down by the handle on his body armour’s back.
“Was he going to yell at me? “I’m not sure,” Mr Fierro added.
The two fell to the floor. A few feet distant, the shooter’s military-style weapon clanged. Mr Fierro prepared to fight when he saw the gunman approaching with a gun in his other hand.
“I just started beating him in the head and pulling the rifle out of his grasp,” Mr Fierro explained.
Mr Fierro started yelling commands at the victim while holding him down and hitting him in the head with the pistol. He called at another clubgoer to grab the gun and kick the shooter in the face while uttering expletives.
Mr Fierro said he instructed a drag performer to kick the assailant with her high heels as she walked by.
“For the most part, very little happens in fight, but that mad minute, that mad minute, is when you are challenged.” “It becomes a habit,” he pointed out.
“I’m not sure how I got the gun away from that person.” “Even though I’m just a chubby old vet, I saw the need to act.”
He claimed from a rookie cop and used them on his injured companions. He claimed that while working, he tried to speak calmly to them and assure them everything was well.
He was tackled as he approached his wife and daughter, standing at the room’s edge.
Officers rushed into the chaotic situation, unsure of his threat level, and saw a man with a bloodied pistol. For what seemed like a lifetime, he was handcuffed and confined to the back of the police car. He screamed and begged to be let go to see his family.
He was eventually let go. His friends were present at the time and are in a far worse situation.
Everyone had made it. His daughter’s lover, however, was nowhere to be located. They’d misplaced him amid the turmoil. They circled well-known streets on their way back to the club, hoping to spot him. But no such luck.
The shooting had claimed his life. He claimed that when he heard, Mr Fierro cried while hugging his daughter. He called, partially because he was afraid. The deceased’s family and the victims of the atrocities had now lived through war, just as he had. They would struggle, much like him and many of his wartime buddies.
They’d be plagued by the urge to forget and always need to remember, ache from unwarranted vigilance, lash out in rage, and never be able to deal with fear.