Colorado Springs Mourns 5 Lives Lost and a Haven for the LGBTQ Community
The victims of the Club Q shooting are remembered as loving patrons and staff members who basked in the camaraderie of the neighborhood oasis.
Two were trans, one was gay, and another was a mother. All were loved.
The five people who lost their lives in Saturday's Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs were staff members and patrons of a sanctuary in the middle of a conservative community with a history of anti-gay sentiment.
“In a world that can be so dark and so angry, it’s that one place that feels like home,” said Jewels Parks, a drag queen and a club regular. “We’re able to unwind, forget about our troubles with work, family, society.
"Because of Club Q, we’re able to make friends that turn into family and be accepted for our true selves," Parks told CNN.
The lost have been identified as Kelly Loving, Derrick Rump, Ashley Paugh, Raymond Green Vance and Daniel Davis Aston. Their deaths have galvanized and gutted the LGBTQ community.
Those gathered Saturday night at Club Q were celebrating Transgender Day of Remembrance, an annual event that commemorates the danger and violence visited upon trans and gay people who openly embrace their true selves.
Rump and Aston were bartenders. Paugh, Vance and Loving were patrons. They were shot with a long rifle, allegedly fired by 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, who faces five counts of murder and five counts of committing a bias-motivated crime, authorities said.
Here is a look at the victims.
Daniel Davis Aston, 28
Sabrina and Jeff Aston said their son was happy, the life of the party and a huge fan of being just plain silly. His entrance lit up a room, and he loved his job as a supervising bartender at Club Q. Saturday was a special night for him.
“They were doing, like, a celebration of life for those people that had died,” Sabrina Aston told The Associated Press. “And instead, they lost their lives.”
Aston came out as a man to his mother, and headed to Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, where he became president of the LGBTQ club.
“We are in shock, we cried for a little bit, but then you go through this phase where you are just kind of numb, and I’m sure it will hit us again,” she said. “I keep thinking it’s a mistake, they made a mistake, and that he is really alive,” the mother added.
His parents often attended their son's performances at the club, where he loved to dress up and play to the crowd. “He had so much more life to give to us, and to all his friends and to himself," his mother told the Denver Post.
But now, life is "just a nightmare that you can’t wake up from,” she said.
Derrick Rump, 38
A bartender and co-owner of Club Q, Rump identified as a gay man and was "one of the sweetest, funniest, quirkiest smartasses you’d ever want to meet," his friend Sky Lay told the Colorado Sun.
Known for his quick wit and compassionate heart, Rump was all about making people happy inside the club, said those who knew him.
"Loving, supportive, with a heavy hand in his drink pouring, and just a really good listener and would not be afraid to tell you when you were wrong instead of telling you what you wanted to hear, and that was really valuable," his friend Anthony Jaramillo told CBS News.
“He genuinely loved Club Q,” Shadavia Green, who worked behind the bar with Rump, told The New York Times. “He was the bar.”
Kelly Loving, 40
Loving, a trans woman, had spoken to her sister on the day she was gunned down.
"I had just got off the phone with her that same day," Tiffany Loving told ABC News. "We had video calls that same day. She was a kind person, she was loving, always fighting for people."
Friend Natalee Skye Bingham, 25, said she met Loving some seven years ago, when they worked at a Florida club. Loving had been like a mother to her, she said, and pushed her to embrace herself.
“When I first started to transition, I wasn’t confident at all,” Bingham told The New York Times. “She reminded me that you are not doing the wrong thing by being trans, that it was OK to embrace it because you are a beautiful person.”
Loving had been stabbed, shot at and beaten up as a trans woman, Bingham said. Her friend had been depressed lately, but had spoken of being excited to go out Saturday. It was her first visit to the club, Bingham said.
“It was nice to see her so confident in herself,” Bingham said. “It was so relieving to know that she felt beautiful that night.”
Ashley Paugh, 35
Paugh was the mother of an 11-year-old daughter who was in Colorado Springs for the day with a friend. She was not a member of the LGBTQ community, was married to her high school sweetheart, and had gone to the club to see a show.
"It just doesn't seem real," her sister, Stephanie Clark, told NBC News. "We're heartbroken. We're sad. We're mad, angry."
She worked for Kids Crossing, a group that assists foster children. “She’d always wanted better homes, better places for children,” her nephew, Jaden Harris, told The Times.
"Nothing will ever be the same without her," her sister said. "She was a loving, caring person who would do anything for anybody. We're gonna miss her so much."
Raymond Green Vance, 22
Vance made his first and only visit to Club Q on Saturday night with his girlfriend, her parents, and friends. They were celebrating a birthday.
He had just gotten a job at FedEx and “was thrilled to have received his first paycheck,” read a statement from his family. “He couldn’t wait to save enough money to get his own apartment.”
The parents of his girlfriend also issued a statement on social media.
"With an incredibly heavy and broken heart we lost Raymond, who had been a part of our lives since our daughter was in high school," the post said. "Raymond was Kassy's boyfriend. We are going to miss him and his bright smile so much. We are going through a lot of emotions ... The loss of lives and the injured are in our hearts. We are devastated and torn. We love our #lgbtq community and stand with them."
Vance came from a large and tight-knit family. “His absence will leave irreparable heartbreak in countless lives," his relatives said in their statement.
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