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Gov. Spencer Cox, local officials react to 'senseless tragedy' in Colorado Springs

The Progress Pride flag waves in the wind after a ceremony to kick off Pride Month outside of the Salt Lake City-County Building on June 1. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and other elected officials on Sunday called the shooting at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub that killed five and injured 18 the night before a 'senseless tragedy.'

The Progress Pride flag waves in the wind after a ceremony to kick off Pride Month outside of the Salt Lake City-County Building on June 1. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and other elected officials on Sunday called the shooting at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub that killed five and injured 18 the night before a 'senseless tragedy.' (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)


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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and other elected officials are calling the shooting at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub that killed five and injured 18 late Saturday a "senseless tragedy."

Authorities were dispatched to Club Q about 11:57 p.m. on Saturday with a report of a shooting. Police discovered two firearms at the nightclub, including a "long rifle," Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez told the Associated Press.

Police identified the gunman as Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, and are still investigating to determine a motive. They are also working to decide whether it should be considered a hate crime, according to the El Paso County District Attorney Michael Allen.

The shooting occurred just one day before Trans Remembrance Day, also known as International Transgender Day of Remembrance. The day is marked as a memorialization of individuals who have been murdered as a result of transphobia.

At least 32 transgender people were fatally shot or killed in 2022, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

The shooting brought back memories of the 2016 mass shooting at the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Florida. The shooter there killed 49 people and injured 53 others. Cox expressed his condolences on Sunday afternoon on Twitter, linking to a speech he made at the time of the Pulse nightclub shooting.

Other elected officials including Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall and Salt Lake Police Chief Mike Brown released statements about the tragedy.

"To our Trans and gender non-conforming community: you are loved, you are seen and you are embraced by your City, which is a better place because of you. We remember those murdered in anti-trans violence + we continue our commitment to making this City a safe place for you," wrote Mendenhall on Twitter.

While the motive hasn't been determined, the club itself and LGBTQ advocates have called the attack a hate crime.

Local statements include Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah. His statement read, in part:

"The past two years, we have watched our community face a new wave of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and legislation designed to generate moral panic. Politicians have given an audience to these fearmongers, and have stoked hysteria throughout the country, falsely asserting that transgender children would 'destroy' women's sports, and that drag queens are 'grooming' children. This dangerous rhetoric is alive here in Utah as well, and it needs to stop now. To the good people of Utah, we implore you to recognize that LGBTQ are your family members, your neighbors and your co-workers. When extremists ratchet up hysteria, they are endangering the people you love."

Williams is likely referencing recent efforts by lawmakers regarding gender-affirming health care for transgender youth and transgender youth participation in sports. In Utah's 2022 legislative session, lawmakers attempted to pass a bill banning transgender girls from participating in female sports. The bill was vetoed by Cox, a decision that was later overturned by lawmakers in a special session.

Other LGBTQ-based nonprofits to express condolences included Encircle and Project Rainbow. Project Rainbow will be holding a memorial service at the Salt Lake City Public Library for Transgender Remembrance Day at 3 p.m. on Sunday. The service will also be streamed via YouTube.

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Ashley Fredde covers human services and and women's issues for KSL.com. She also enjoys reporting on arts, culture and entertainment news. She's a graduate of the University of Arizona.

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