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Communities mourn mass shooting in Colorado Springs

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Eric Galatas

(Colorado News Connection) Communities across Colorado continue to mourn the deaths of at least five people, after a 22-year-old gunman allegedly opened fire inside an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs Saturday.

More than two dozen people were injured. Colorado's 4th Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen told reporters he has a strong interest in prosecuting the case, including as a possible hate crime, because it's important for the community see that the perpetrator is held accountable.

"The current bias-motivated crime statute in the state of Colorado provides some elevation," said Allen, "but will not elevate beyond what will likely be charges in this case which will likely include first-degree murder, extreme-indifference murder, those types of charges, which are all Class 1 Felony murder charges."

Allen said everyone charged with crimes is presumed to be innocent until proved guilty. 

In a statement, Colorado Governor Jared Polis said, "My heart breaks for the family and friends of those lost, injured and traumatized in this horrific shooting." He also told Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers that he would make every state resource available to local law enforcement.

The mass shooting at Club Q occurred on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, which honors the memory of those murdered in acts of anti-transgender violence. 

Allen also said that every person, regardless of who they are, has the right to be secure from fear and physical harm.

"And actions taken to strike fear in specific communities will not be tolerated in our community," said Allen. "This is particularly true for communities that have been maligned, harassed and targeted by persons or groups to intimidate and cause harm to members of those communities."

According to data collected by Human Rights Campaign, before Saturday's shooting at least 32 transgender and gender non-conforming people have been killed in 2022, although actual numbers are likely much higher due to under-reporting. 

Victims are overwhelmingly Black, under 35, and killed with a firearm. More than 16 percent of transgender students reported being physically assaulted, while one in three has experienced physical harassment.