As he broke his silence on Sunday, the second man who contributed to ending the tragic Colorado mass shooting last month described his actions as a defense of “family” at the LGBTQ nightclub and everywhere else.
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Thomas James said in a statement released from his hospital bed, “I just wanted to save the family I found.” “If I could, I would protect everyone from the senseless acts of hatred in the world, but I am only one person,” the speaker said.
James is recovering from gunshot wounds sustained on November 19 at Club Q in Colorado Springs, where Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, is charged with killing five people and injuring 16 others while using a weapon that police believe to be a copy of the Colt AR-15, a semi-automatic long gun designed originally for use on the battlefield.
According to police and prosecutors, Aldrich has been detained on suspicion of murder and bias-related assault. Soon, formal charges are anticipated.
Aldrich’s attorneys have not formally reacted to the accusations, expounded on any counter arguments, or responded to requests for his comment. Aldrich self-identifies as nonbinary and uses the pronouns they/them, according to court filings.
Alongside decorated Army veteran Richard Fierro, 45, of Colorado Springs, who has been stabilized at Centura Health’s Penrose Hospital, James subdued the suspect, assisted in disarming him, and held him for authorities, according to Fierro and authorities.
According to Fierro, the second person who assisted in stopping the suspect was initially knocked down or hit the ground while being subjected to intense gunfire, but quickly got back up, assisted in securing the rifle, and began kicking the suspect.
The firearm that the suspect is also claimed to have possessed was taken, according to Fierro.
According to booking images, the suspect was beaten and bruised during his arrest by bystanders at the scene.
The day after the attack, Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez referred to Fierro and James as “the two heroes that interfered inside of Club Q” at a press conference.
James, an information systems technician, has been unable to talk because he is still recovering even though Fierro has been able to do so and detail his own actions as well as James’.
In a statement, Penrose Hospital stated that he would not be conducting interviews.
Fierro was at Club Q that evening celebrating a birthday with his wife, their daughter, and some of their daughter’s friends. Fierro is a two-time Bronze Star recipient and assists his wife in running Atrevida Beer Co.
He claimed that he took action to defend those loved ones and family members, referring to them as “my family,” and that he later found out that his daughter’s boyfriend had been murdered.
James essentially stated the same thing in his comments on Sunday, but his view of family appeared to be broader.
We are family, thank goodness, because family takes care of one another, he continued. “From Stonewall, we have come a long way. Bullies are vulnerable.”
He went on: “Be bold, I say to the young. There is your family somewhere. You are cherished and treasured. So make a strong entrance as you emerge from the closet.”