A Former Soldier Went Into Combat Mode: Richard M. Fierro, a veteran who served for 15 years, was in the nightclub in Colorado Springs with his family when the shooter opened fire. Richard M. Fierro was killed in the attack. “I simply knew I had to take him down,” he stated. “It was my only option.”
Army Veteran Went Into ‘Combat Mode’ to Disarm the Club Q Gunman
Richard M. Fierro was enjoying a drag performance with his wife, daughter, and friends when gunshots erupted. Instincts honed throughout four combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan kicked in. Protect your people, he told himself. Mr. Fierro, 45, who served 15 years as an Army officer and resigned as a major in 2013, recalled storming through the commotion at the club, tackling the gunman, and beating him bloody with the assailant’s rifle.
Mr. Fierro stood in his driveway with a limp American flag, shaking his head. I must kill him before he kills us. Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, is charged with murdering five people and injuring 18 others in a short club rampage. If bargoers hadn’t stopped the gunman, the death toll might have been far worse, officials added. Mayor John Suthers stated Mr. Fierro saved several lives. The mayor praised Mr. Fierro’s humility. “I’ve never met someone so heroic and humble.”
The battle veteran and his wife, Jess, accompanied their daughter, Kassandra, her boyfriend Raymond Green Vance, and two family friends to witness a drag show. Mr. Fierro enjoyed his first drag show. He spent 15 years in the Army and now enjoys being a citizen and parent, seeing one of his daughter’s old high-school pals play. As he remembered the event, he continued, “These youngsters want to live that way, the hand has fun.” “That’s what I fought for, so they can do anything they want.”
Mr. Fierro was practicing going out. He’d been fired at, watched roadside bombs rip battalion vehicles, and lost pals in Iraq and Afghanistan. He got two Bronze Stars. Past and ongoing battles existed. He wouldn’t forget stuff. After returning home, crowds unsettled him. He was watchful. He sat against the wall, facing the door at restaurants. Part of him was constantly poised for an assault, like an itchy itch.
Often skeptical and angry. His wife and daughter suffered. He did it. Medication and therapy helped. He threw out all the firearms. To disassociate himself from his military days, he developed long hair and a white goatee. He and his wife managed Atrevida Beer Co., a popular local brewery, and he was close to his daughter and her partner. But he acknowledged war’s permanence. He wasn’t thinking about war at Club Q. Dancing woman. His pals laughed. Shooting began.
Small-arms fire flashed near the front door. Mr. Fierro was well-aware. He fell, dragging his companion with him. Bullets smashed bottles and glassware in the bar. Screaming ensued. Mr. Fierro spotted a 300-pound man wearing body armor and holding a weapon similar to the one he used in Iraq. The shooter moved through the pub onto a patio where scores had fled.
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Long-repressed platoon leader inclinations resurfaced. He ran across the room, grabbed the gunman’s body armor handle, and leaped on him. Did he shoot? Would he fire? Fierro answered, “I dunno.” “I had to beat him. Two fell. The gunman’s military-style weapon clanked away. Mr. Fierro went for it but saw the assailant draw his revolver. Mr. Fierro “took the rifle from him and started striking him in the head”
Mr. Fierro barked directions while holding the victim down and slamming the gun on his head. He urged a club attendee to take the firearm and kick the gunman in the face. Mr. Fierro told a passing drag dancer to trample the attacker with her heels. Mr. Fierro claimed he kept shooting and cursing at the shooter.
What made him act fearlessly? He’s clueless. Now that conflict had arrived in his hometown, his old war impulses probably had a place. “In a fight, most of the time nothing occurs, but that furious minute tests you. He answered, “It becomes a habit.” “I don’t know how I took his gun. “I’m a big old vet, but I had to do something.” The shooter was no longer battling when police arrived, Mr. Fierro said. Mr. Fierro dreaded killing him.
Blood-soaked Mr. Fierro. He got up and searched for his family in the dark. Friends were on the floor. One had chest and arm wounds. One had a leg wound. Mr. Fiero claimed he started ranting as additional police arrived. Casualties. Casualties. Please send a medic. He said the cops and the shooter were down, but people needed help. He snatched tourniquets from a young police officer to save his bleeding companions. He told them they’d be OK while he worked.
When he saw his wife and daughter at the room’s edge, he was attacked. Officers racing to the chaotic scene discovered a blood-spattered guy holding a firearm. They handcuffed him and held him in a police cruiser for an hour. He shouted and begged to see his family, he claimed. He was released. His wife and daughter suffered minor injuries, so he took them to the hospital. His pals were and are considerably sicker. Alive. The daughter’s boyfriend was missing. He disappeared in the tumult. They drove to the club and circled familiar neighborhoods, hoping to spot him walking home. Nothing.
Sunday night, his mother called. The shooting killed him. Mr. Fierro sobbed when he learned, he claimed. He sobbed because of what lay ahead. The family of the dead, who was shot, had also been in combat. They’d fight like he and his comrades. They’d hurt with misdirected vigilance, lash out in rage, never be able to scratch the itch of worry and be caught between wanting to forget and constantly remembering.
His daughter wailed and dad cried with her. “Driving home from the hospital, I told them, ‘Look, I’ve been through this before. Downrange, you simply go on the next patrol. You must forget it. It’s cured. Doing more helped. You arrive home safely. I fear there won’t be another patrol. Less treatable. You’ve arrived.”