A patron who survived the mass shooting at an LGBT+ nightclub in Colorado Springs has described his terror as he hid from the gunman with other clubgoers in a locked room.
Joshua Thurman, 34, told local media that he had been celebrating his birthday on the dance floor at Club Q when a man began shooting at patrons with a rifle, killing five and causing injuries for at least 25.
At times breaking into tears, Mr Thurman said the attack had "shattered" a vibrant community hub for LGBT+ people in the Rocky Mountains city, where drag performer Del Lusional had been hosting a show.
"This is our only safe space here in the Springs," he told local broadcaster KRDO-TV on Sunday. "And so for this to get shot up, it's like: what are we gonna do now? where are we gonna go?
"Yeah, we can rebuild and come together. But what about those people that lost their lives for no reason? The 18 others that were injured? I could have been one of them... how are we gonna feel safe in our city?"
Joshua was inside Club Q when the gunman entered. He ran and hid. Heard the gunman being “beat up.” Tells @BeedieonTV “This was our only safe space in The Springs. Where are we gonna go?”#LGBTQ #ClubQ pic.twitter.com/ZkijarxZoc
— Josh Helmuth KRDO (@Jhelmuth) November 20, 2022
Authorities have named 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich as a suspect in the shooting, saying that the attacker used an AR-15-style rifle and was subdued by people inside the club after opening fire.
Mr Thurman said: "As I was dancing on the dance floor, I heard shots fired. I thought it was the music, because there were no screams, there was no 'help, help', nothing like that.
"Then there were more shots. When I realised what was going on I ran to the dressing room immediately. There was a customer that followed me and there was a drag performer, Del Lusional, who was in the dressing room.
"I made them lock the doors and we got down on the ground and turned off the lights immediately. We heard everything."
From inside the dressing room, the three heard more shots, and then fighting between the gunman and patrons. They heard police entering the building, yelling at the shooter, and triaging the casualties.
When they left the dressing room, Mr Thurman told The Colorado Sun that the police had not realised they were inside and were surprised to see them.
"At that point, honestly, I lost my cool," he said, struggling with his words as he broke into tears. "Because when I came out, there were bodies on the floor, there was shattered glass, broken cups, people crying....
"There was nothing keeping that man from coming in to kill us... why did this have to happen? Why? Why did people have to lose their lives?"