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Who is Richard Fierro? Colorado vet who tackled gunman at Club Q reveals how he prevented more deaths

On November 21, authorities identified Richard Fierro as one of the individuals who stopped the gunman who opened fire with the rifle inside Club Q in Colorado
UPDATED NOV 22, 2022
Richard Fierro, a Bronze Star Medal recipient, served as an Army field artillery officer from 1999 to 2013 (Scott Olson/Getty Images and YouTube/NBC News)
Richard Fierro, a Bronze Star Medal recipient, served as an Army field artillery officer from 1999 to 2013 (Scott Olson/Getty Images and YouTube/NBC News)

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO: An Army veteran, whose heroic efforts helped to put an end to the carnage which claimed the lives of at least five people and injured 19 inside a gay club in Colorado, was hailed by the community, according to NBC News. Richard Fierro was one of the two people who tackled and subdued the gunman inside the Club Q on Saturday, November 19 night in Colorado Springs. 

“My husband took the gunman down,” Jessica Fierro, Richard's wife said of the shooting suspect who had an AR-15 style rifle and wore a flak vest. “My husband knocked the guns out of his hands and took the pistol and literally started hitting the guy with it.” Richard and his family went to the club to celebrate a friend’s birthday, enjoying a drag show that included a performance by his 22-year-old daughter’s best friend. “We were having a great time, we were all on the dance floor, and from one minute to the next you just heard gunshots and everyone was separated and just started running,” she said. “It was absolute chaos.”


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On Monday, November 21, authorities identified Richard Fierro and Thomas James as the individuals who stopped the gunman after he opened fire with the rifle before midnight. “I have never encountered a person who had engaged in such heroic actions who was so humble about it," Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said of Fierro during a news conference Monday. "He simply said to me, ‘I was trying to protect my family.’” 


Police arrested the 22-year-old suspect within a few minutes. He was charged on Monday with five counts of first-degree murder and five counts of bias-motivated crime-causing bodily injury by state prosecutors. 

Who is Richard Fierro?

According to the military records, Richard, a Bronze Star Medal recipient, served as an Army field artillery officer from 1999 to 2013 and held the rank of Major at the end of service. He was deployed three times to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. Besides the Bronze Star, which is given to service members who have "distinguished himself or herself by heroic or meritorious achievement or service," he was also awarded several other commendation and achievement medals.

In 1999, he graduated as the AROTC Distinguished Military Grad, according to a biography on San Diego State University's website. The next 15 years he spent in the Army serving in various positions, including platoon leader, battery commander, battalion operations officer, brigade plans officer, and corps counter fire officer. In 2021, Richard earned his MBA from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. 


How did Richard Fierro stop the gunman?

While speaking to Anchorage Daily News, Richard, who had already lost three of his loved ones the in ordeal, said, "I had my whole Colorado Springs family in there. I had to do something. He was not going to kill my family.” He added, “I just want people to take care of people, the people who are hurt and no longer with us. I still got two of my best friends who are in the hospital. They still need prayers; they still need support.” 


Richard said that the gunman entered the club and started firing after the drag show while he stood with a friend as their wives danced. “But I’ve always been shot at from afar,” he said, adding, “I heard the shot. I smelled the cordite.” When Richard first heard the gunshot, he said, "I dove when I heard it and I pushed my friend down. He went to the floor and ended up getting shot.” Unfortunately, the same thing also happened to his friend’s wife and his daughter’s boyfriend. 


Richard's daughter also fractured her knee as she ran for cover and a stranger pulled her into a dressing room to hide. He said his wife “got sucked into the crowd that went to the patio.” Richard saw the 22-year-old with a gun when he got up from the floor. “I looked across the room and the guy was standing at the door. I ran across the bar, grabbed the guy from the back and pulled him down, and pinned him against the stairs,” he said.

People hold a vigil at a makeshift memorial near the Club Q nightclub on November 20, 2022 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Yesterday, a 22-year-old gunman entered the LGBTQ nightclub and opened fire, killing at least five people and injuring 25 others before being stopped by club patrons.
People hold a vigil at a makeshift memorial near the Club Q nightclub on November 20, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colorado (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The killer wore body armor and carried both a handgun and an AR-15-style rifle. “He went for his weapon, and I grabbed his handgun,” Richard said, adding, “His AR was right in front of him.” He shouted orders to a young person who had stopped in front of the shooter to help. “I said, ‘Kick him! Move the AR!’ Then I just started hitting him. But he was in armor plates, so I started hitting him wherever there was skin,” he said, adding, “The back of his head was my target.”


Richard said he felt his military training kick in. “I’m an officer and that’s what we do. I took control of the scene as best I could. I’m just hitting the guy with the pistol, beating the back of his head,” he recalled, adding, “I’m yelling to people at the same time, ‘Call the police! Let’s go!’”

The military vet shouted "Kick him" at a drag queen in high heels to help when the young man assisting him flagged. “She kicked him because the other guy was tired,” Richard said. “I was in the middle of a puddle of blood,” he added when the first police officer arrived.