An army veteran became the unsuspecting hero of Saturday’s Colorado Springs shooting when he took down the gunman in a moment that harkened back to his years in combat.

Former Army Major Richard M. Fierro was at the LGBT nightclub with his wife and daughter, his daughter’s boyfriend and a few friends. They went to Club Q to watch a drag show when, just before midnight, shots were fired across the room. 

“I just went into combat mode,” Fierro told a press conference. “I just know I have to kill this guy before he kills us.”

As soon as he saw the perpetrator holding a rifle, Fierro ran toward him and pulled him to the floor. The former military leader knocked the rifle out of his hand and deflected the gunman from pulling out a pistol. Fierro began ordering the club’s patrons, as if in combat again, telling one man to grab the rifle and commanding a trans woman to stomp the attacker with her heel. 

When the police arrived, Fierro was covered in blood and had obtained injuries to both hands, knees and ankles, according to his wife. Initially, law enforcement mistook him for a perpetrator and put him in a cop car. Eventually, he was released and reunited with his family to find that his wife and daughter had both been injured.

Five people were killed in the shooting, which is being charged as a hate crime, but Fierro’s heroic act undoubtedly saved lives. 

Fierro was deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, serving as an officer for 15 years. He received a Bronze Star twice for his service.

He compared the tragic night in Colorado Springs to his time in combat.

“My daughter and wife should’ve never experienced combat in Colorado Springs,” he told CNN. “Everybody in that building experienced combat, not to their own accord, but because they were forced to.” 

His daughter’s boyfriend, Raymond Vance, 22, was one of the five victims who did not survive that night. Fierro said he held his daughter and cried when they heard Vance didn’t make it. 

“I’m not a hero,” he said. “I’m just a guy that wanted to protect his kids and wife, and I still didn’t get to protect [Vance].”

Fierro’s wife, Jess, wrote on their brewery’s Facebook page about the incident.

“We are devastated and torn,” she wrote. “We love our LGBTQ community and stand with them. This cowardly and despicable act of hate has no room in our lives or business. F— HATE. It has left us and our community scarred but not broken.”

The other four victims identified were Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh, Daniel Aston and Derrick Rump.

The suspect in the shooting has been identified as 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, who faces five counts of first-degree murder and five counts of a hate crime.

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