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The shooting at the Colorado Springs LGBTQ club was horrific, police chief says

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

With us now, the police chief of Colorado Springs, Adrian Vasquez. Chief, thank you so much for being with us this morning. And our deepest condolences to you and your community there.

ADRIAN VASQUEZ: Well, thank you, Rachel. I appreciate it. Pretty sad event and just horrific, I thank you for your coverage on it, though.

MARTIN: Yeah. We know it's early in the investigation. But is there anything more you can tell us about the gunman?

VASQUEZ: At this point in time, obviously - I left late last night, so I haven't been briefed. And I'll receive an updated briefing here later this morning. There's not a lot more that I know at this point. But I know our investigators are working tirelessly to conduct interviews, contact family members and other witnesses. So hopefully, we'll know a little bit more later this morning.

MARTIN: As we just heard from our reporter, there was a man with the same name and age who was taken into custody in June of last year and charged with making bomb threats against his mother, the same name and age as the gunman who attacked the Club Q. Can you confirm that this is the same man?

VASQUEZ: Well, as we do in every investigation, we, of course, look at the history of the individual, the suspect in that particular case. At this point in time, our investigators are still looking into that. As you can imagine, the focus was on the scene and processing. So I should have updated information on that as part of the investigation.

MARTIN: If and when you can confirm that, though, would it indicate that Colorado's red flag law had been ignored?

VASQUEZ: Well, I think when we look into other contacts, obviously, it's going to depend on what the type of contact was for. Did it fall in the realm of a red flag issue and - you know, or not? So that we don't know at this point in time.

MARTIN: The man, the shooter, was described as heavily armed. What preparation might have gone into this attack?

VASQUEZ: So he - we know that he was carrying a long gun. And it was an AR-style platform. And we also know that he had additional multiple magazines with ammunition. So obviously, the thought that comes to mind through an investigation like this would be the knowledge that that many rounds might be able to produce a lot of damage. And we know that as soon as he entered into the club, he immediately began firing on individuals. So there was no hesitation on his part to do the damage that he did. And so that speaks to, you know, the preparation that he took for - before entering that club.

MARTIN: I want to ask you about something the mayor of Colorado Springs, John Suthers, told us, our colleagues at NPR's All Things Considered. Let's listen to a little bit of that conversation.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

JOHN SUTHERS: It certainly has the trappings of a hate crime. But it's too early to designate it as such because we - the motive really is a matter of investigation at this point in time.

MARTIN: The shooting did occur just before the Transgender Day of Remembrance. What can you say about a possible motive? Does it look and feel like a hate crime to you?

VASQUEZ: Well, I think I would agree with the mayor, certainly in his comment about the trappings of it, appearing that it could be that. Certainly, the type of club that it is, it's an LGBTQ club. And it is on the Transgender Day of Remembrance. So those things piecing together, you know, you would certainly take those into consideration as part of the investigation. I think there's a lot of work to be done before we can come to that determination, like interviews and, you know, search warrants on things like computers and those kinds of things to see what type of sentiment he may have posted or had. But certainly, it feels that way.

MARTIN: Can you give us a sense of the scope of the interviews that you've been doing at this point?

VASQUEZ: Sure. I mean, there's a tremendous amount of interviews. I'll be briefed a little bit more on the amount of individuals that were in the club. The problem is, of course, that individuals will flee, as anybody might think to do when something like that happens. So our investigators are having to track down those that were in the club as well as just interviews with members of family or friends that may have known the suspect. So we'll get a better feel for that as the interviews continue.

MARTIN: Do you believe the shooter was working alone?

VASQUEZ: At this point in time, we believe he was working alone. What we do want to make sure that we find out was - or is whether somebody was helping the individual, you know, potentially get weapons or understand what the club was about and those kinds of things. That's part of the ongoing investigation. But as far as the shooting itself, we do believe he was working alone.

MARTIN: What's your message to the community right now, I mean, especially the LGBTQ community, who is likely feeling vulnerable?

VASQUEZ: Yeah, absolutely, and completely understandable. Club Q was a place that they could go that is a safe haven to them. And it is a place they feel like they should be able to go into without fear of being harmed. And this community is truly very inclusive. And overall, I feel like I want the message to be that the police department stands beside them and is here for their protection. And it's just - I'm absolutely heartbroken over this. It's sad. And it's really just horrific to have somebody evil like this individual doing this kind of act. We are here for the LGBTQ community.

MARTIN: Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez. Thank you so much.

VASQUEZ: Absolutely. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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