A second man who helped end the deadly mass shooting in Colorado this month broke his silence Sunday, describing his actions as advocating for “family” at the LGBTQ nightclub and beyond.
“I just wanted to save the family I found,” Army Petty Officer 2nd Class Thomas James said in a statement issued from his hospital bed. “If I had my way, I would protect everyone I could from the senseless acts of hate in the world, but I’m just one person.”
James is recovering from gunshot wounds sustained November 19 at the Q Club in Colorado Springs, where 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich is accused of killing five people and wounding 16 others with what police described as a clone of the Colt AR-15, a semi-truck. -automatic long cannon initially developed for the battlefield.
Aldrich has been booked on suspicion of murder and hate-motivated violence, police and prosecutors say. Formal charges are expected soon.
Aldrich’s lawyers have not formally responded to the allegations, elaborated on his possible defense arguments or responded to questions seeking his side of the story. They said in court documents that Aldrich identifies as non-binary and uses the pronouns they/them.
James, who has been stabilized at Centura Health’s Penrose Hospital, subdued the suspect, helped disarm him and held him with authorities along with decorated Army veteran Richard Fierro, 45, of Colorado Springs, Fierro and authorities said. .
Fierro has said the other person who helped detain the suspect was initially knocked down or fell to the ground amid high-powered gunfire, but soon got up, helped secure the rifle and began kicking the suspect.
Fierro said he secured the other weapon the suspect allegedly had: a pistol.
Stock photos showed the suspect beaten and bruised, apparently as part of his detention by civilians at the scene.
Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrián Vásquez described Fierro and James at a press conference the day after the attack as “the two heroes who intervened within Club Q.”
Although Fierro has been able to speak to the media and describe James’ actions as well as his own, James, an information systems technician, has not been able to speak because he is still recovering.
Penrose Hospital said in a statement that it would not give interviews.
Fierro, a two-time Bronze Star winner who helps his wife run Atrevida Beer Co., was at Club Q that night celebrating a birthday with her, her daughter and her daughter’s friends.
She said she went into action to protect those relatives and loved ones, “my family,” and that she would later find out that her daughter’s boyfriend was murdered.
James said much the same thing in his statement on Sunday, but his definition of family seemed to be more inclusive.
“Fortunately, we are a family and the family takes care of each other,” he said. “We’ve come a long way from Stonewall. Bullies aren’t invincible.”
He continued, “I tell young people to be brave. Your family is out there. You are loved and valued. So when you come out of the closet, come out swinging.”