Richard and Jessica Fierro at Atrevida, the bar and brewery they own in Colorado Springs. Richard Fierro, an Army veteran, subdued the gunman in Saturday's shooting at Club Q, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022. Photo from Atrevida website.
Just before midnight on Saturday, a 22-year-old man dressed in body armor and carrying a rifle and pistol entered Club Q in Colorado Springs and started shooting.
That’s when Richard Fierro, a 45-year-old former artillery soldier, jumped into action. “I don’t know exactly what I did, I just went into combat mode,” Fierro told The New York Times in an interview Monday, Nov. 21. “I just know I have to kill this guy before he kills us.”
Police said Fierro disarmed the suspect, stopping the shooting spree. The gunman still shot and killed five and injured 18 before Fierro and others reached him.
Colorado Springs police identified Fierro and Thomas James as “two people whose heroic actions stopped the suspect and saved lives.”
According to a Navy press release, James serves as an information systems technician second class. He was among those injured on Saturday and is currently in stable condition.
Since Fierro’s identity emerged, many on social media have urged their followers to buy out the merchandise from Fierro's brewery, Atrevida Beer Co.
Dozens of accounts echoed those calls, with some urging the purchase of gift cards as a quick way to get money to the Army vet's brewery.
Additionally, the League of United Latin American Citizens, a national Latino advocacy group, is awarding Fierro the organization’s presidential medal and $5,000.
Once the shooting started, Fierro’s military experience took over, he told The New York Times. “Was he shooting at the time? Was he about to shoot? I don’t know,” he said. “I just knew I had to take him down.”
The former field artillery officer did four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Times. Fierro was awarded two Bronze Stars during his 15 years in service. He left the Army as a major in 2013.
Richard Fierro gets support from his brother Ed Fierro as he talks at his home during a news conference about his efforts to subdue the gunman in the Club Q nightclub shooting Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Jack Dempsey/AP photo.
Fierro told the Times that he charged the gunman and wrestled him to the ground when the shooter turned his back. The rifle clattered out of reach, and Fierro grabbed the shooter’s pistol as he raised the weapon.
“I grabbed the gun out of his hand and just started hitting him in the head, over and over,” Fierro said.
The mayor of Colorado Springs praised Fierro. “He saved a lot of lives,” Mayor John Suthers said. “I have never encountered a person who had engaged in such heroic actions that was so humble about it,” he said after speaking with Fierro.
According to the Times, Fierro had been socializing at Club Q with his wife, Jess, daughter, Kassandra, and friends. Kassandra’s longtime boyfriend, Raymond Green Vance, was also at the nightclub. Jess and Kassandra left the club with minor injuries, but Vance died in the shooting.
Raymond Green Vance was killed in the shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Vance is pictured left, and he and his longtime girlfriend, Kassandra Fierro, are pictured right. Atrevida Beer Co. Facebook photos. Composite by Coffee or Die Magazine.
“In combat, most of the time nothing happens, but it’s that mad minute, that mad minute, and you are tested in that minute. It becomes habit,” Fierro told the Times. “I don’t know how I got the weapon away from that guy, no idea. I’m just a dude, I’m a fat old vet, but I knew I had to do something.”
Jenna Biter is a staff writer at Coffee or Die Magazine. She has a master’s degree in national security and is a Russian language student. When she’s not writing, Jenna can be found reading classics, running, or learning new things, like the constellations in the night sky. Her husband is on active duty in the US military. Know a good story about national security or the military? Email Jenna.
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